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The way things are

I am writing in response to your “Conservancy Counters Ramirez Protests” article of Oct. 22, 1998. As a 20-year Ramirez Canyon resident, some facts and clarification regarding the conservancy’s response are in order.

1) Ms. Soghor states, “The real nuisance is the protesters. . . .” The neighborhood has staged one peaceful protest, no weddings have ever been disrupted and no threats have been made.

2) Ms. Collins states, “The center has not done anything differently since its opening . . . . nothing has changed except the neighbors’ behavior.” The center has done nothing except to continue to not comply with coastal rules and zoning laws. The have increased the use of our road exponentially. They have filled vans full of their catered guests and party equipment, tables, caterers, film crews, lighting, musicians, etc. to the point where legitimate neighbors who wish to take a walk on their road (this is our sidewalk) with their children or dogs cannot do so for the speeding traffic (people and dogs have been hit by speeding conservancy traffic), noise, congestion and continuous smell of diesel fuel. One van driver said he alone had made 35 trips for one event at the Streisand Center and had carried more than 200 people into a wedding; the conservancy denies any misuse by saying only 15 vans are used without telling actual numbers of trips each van takes. We are still waiting to get the real figures, which they have delayed providing us. They advertise our private road on websites for weddings, sales of T-shirts, film shoots, etc. We do not have a moment’s peace for the barrage of conservancy activity and looky-loos.

Our neighborhood is sick and tired of this continual onslaught all day and all night. Fifteen-foot trucks idle in front of our houses after midnight; the sheer size has broken some of our ancient oak trees and one of our bridges, and the constant loud noise late into the evenings of bands playing is incredible. To call them about the noise during an event is to reach an answering machine; they simply disregard the neighborhood altogether.

3) Coastal Commissioner John Hisserich states that with respect to compliance with laws regulating commercial activities, “Any enforcement action is an extremely low priority.” Why is it that if we want to move a fence or add a carport we need coastal approval, but when a fellow state agency, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, changes the entire character of a sensitive habitat into that of a convention center, it is a “low priority”? Wasn’t the Coastal Commission designed to protect our environment? The facts are that the SMMC is breaking the law! They have not done what any resident would be required to do — follow zoning and obey coastal regulations. The fact is that our neighborhood is paying for the SMMC to maintain their offices (into which they moved secretly at night) in a compound that is way beyond their means; they are ruining our environment to do so. This is not a set of buildings used in any environmental way, for study or conservancy purposes — its sole use is to house the offices of the conservancy elite and their attorneys. What happened to the agency that was supposed to preserve the environment? Why does one of the most sensitive beautiful quiet habitats in rural Malibu have to be demolished to support Mr. Edmiston having his, and his affiliates, offices in Barbra Streisand’s home?

Lotte Cherin

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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