From the Publisher/Karen Portugal York
Editor’s note: This letter is a response to a Letter to the Editor that was received from J. Flora Katz published in The Malibu Times on July 3, 2003.
Dear Ms. Katz,
First, I want to thank you for sharing your views so articulately. It has always been our desire to provide a forum for the wide range of opinions that are held by Malibu residents. And, while you might be surprised to find out that we welcome your sentiments, you will probably be even more surprised to discover that we love Malibu as much as you do-and for the same reasons. Perhaps it is just the means to our mutual ends that differ.
You state that you find our content offensive. What we are offended by are not sincere and committed citizens like yourself who openly express their disagreement, but by insidious individuals who perpetuate the fallacy of the “easy answer.” These people encourage snap judgments, labeling and sometimes even libeling, any who disagree with them. Intelligent citizens, like you, understand that one’s interests and desires cannot always be consistent with those of others. When that happens it is process, not polemics that are required: respect, creativity and, yes, even compromise must be employed to find a solution that is most effective, while being least offensive.
Because our means may differ from yours, please don’t call us names. The “D” word has become synonymous with “devastation” and that’s not what we’re about at all. And, despite your impression, the Malibu future that we desire will not provide us the lucrative income that you envision.
So what’s in it for us? Would you believe that we, too, are committed to preserving-to the degree that it is possible-the very beauty that brought you (and us) here? What I didn’t read in your letter, Ms. Katz, was an acknowledgement of the fact that Malibu does not exist in a vacuum or without history. You do not appear to be na•ve enough to believe that we can usurp the rights of others who have legally acquired and paid taxes on “our” beautiful open space. Nor do you appear to be selfish, wanting to deny others the beauty we residents enjoy. And, as an educated woman, you must be familiar with “due process” and “just compensation”?
Arnold and I are deeply committed to The Rule of Law. For us, that means respect for the legal rights and privileges of our fellow citizens, an appreciation of our system, the process by which we are governed and an understanding of what it takes to legitimately influence the system so it is responsive to its citizens.
Just to set the record straight, we also believe:
- That landowners have a right to “develop” their property to the extent and within the limitations imposed by the laws of our city, county, state and federal government. And I fervently believe that it is our duty, as citizens, to make sure that these laws protect the interests and welfare of the community and the environment.
- That the citizens of Malibu, not the courts, should be the arbiters of the kind of community we live in. Malibu has suffered from far too much expensive and ineffective “knee jerk” litigation and too little well informed dialogue and negotiation; the consequences of which have been extraordinary legal fees, unnecessary overdevelopment and the potential loss of the very “home rule” that we voted for 10 years ago!
- In supporting legislation to protect our open spaces and the beauty and fragile plants and habitats that they provide. And, I also believe that when a community shares this belief, that we are obligated to use all of our resources, creativity and influence to develop the means of acquiring, protecting and maintaining these areas.
- In a community that provides a safe and healthy environment for its citizens. Supporting a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility in high-density areas does not a “developer” make! Rather, as responsible citizens we must acknowledge the environmental and lifestyle differences among the many micro-communities that dot our 27 miles of coastline, developing a planning process that protects each according to its needs.
- In a community that respects and supports the interests of its constituents: apartment dwellers, homeowners, merchants, singles, families, children, seniors, students, employees and visitors.
Ms. Katz, there are no easy answers to the challenges that face our community. And, there is no one “right” answer-there are only “right” questions: How best can we preserve the beauty and integrity of our landscape? How can we harness 21st century technologies to provide the safest and healthiest environment for our citizens and environs? How do we provide community services that are supportive to the city’s residents? How do we find and allocate the resources necessary? And, most importantly, how can we learn to work together to achieve these ends?
In the spirit of respecting our city’s wonderful diversity and in the hope that, together, we can harvest the energy that it generates-I’m glad that you live here even if you think we shouldn’t.