The Republicans are about to pass a major piece of tax cut legislation—the first in 35 years—and, with the exception of some major large international corporations and some very high income tax payers, most Americans don’t seem very happy about it. Recent surveys say 55 percent of Americans think it’s a bad bill and 66 percent think it will only benefit the aforementioned, which means the American people are pretty leveled-headed in analyzing a large, complex piece of legislation (despite all the spin being put out about the bill). I can accept the fact that when a party wins an election, the people that put up the money or manpower to back them are lined up to get their share of the spoils afterward. If the Democrats had won, the same thing would have happened, except it would be a different group of people lined up. The winner gets to pass out the goodies and that’s why elections make a big difference, despite what some silly people may think.
What doesn’t make any sense is why they made this a one-party bill when they could have easily involved some Democrats in the process. They could have broadened the base by doing something about child healthcare or the Dreamers in the bill, rather than kicking those issues down the road. I know they felt they had to pass some piece of legislation—in fact, any piece because they were beginning to look like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight—but still, any piece of complex legislation like this, done by one party and all in the back room without any public hearings, is a guarantee that they made some big mistakes. Tax lawyers all over America, actually the entire world, are already going through the legislation word-for-word, looking for new opportunities; you can bet the lawyers are going to find them. That means that the $1.5 trillion they thought this would cost is going to end up much higher. I predict it’ll be by a factor of 2 or 3 times before it’s all over.
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It is very clear that the California Coastal Commission is not crazy about the City of Malibu. Any time the commission has an opportunity to stick it to us, that’s just what it does. Recently, the City of Malibu passed an ordinance to prevent parking from 2-3 a.m. in the vicinity of the Malibu Pier. The ordinance had only one goal and that was to stop the Surf Shack—that’s the people who rent out kayaks and surfboards to ocean visitors—from taking up a permanent position along the curb near the Pier. Surf Shack got around the current ordinance by moving their kayaks a few feet every day, so they weren’t exactly in the same spot. The city was furious that they were gaming the system (which they were), but the Coastal position was along the lines of, “So what? This is visitor serving so leave them alone.”
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Yesterday, we had a big scare. Suddenly, fire engines were coming up Las Flores Canyon Road and driving up Rambla Pacifico Road, with sirens blazing because a small fire had broken in the area around the top of the road. They hit it with everything they had: men, trucks on the ground and air attacks; it was quickly subdued. In lessons learned from past fires, we all know that if we can catch it before it builds up a head of steam, it can be contained. Once the fire gets out, it becomes exponentially harder to keep the fire boxed in. Kudos to the LA County Fire Department, who have streamlined their systems, put equipment strategically into place before fires start and seem able to react with incredible speed. They really know their job.
The fire department was assisted by the presence of a private road, paid for by the people in the area. It was many years in the making and gave firefighters quick, easy access to the top of Rambla Pacifico. Some years ago, there was a major mudslide on Rambla Pacifico and the entire road remained closed for a number of years. Initally, there was some hope that the Federal Emergency Management Agency—FEMA—might pay to reopen the road, since it slid partly as a result of the natural disaster (extraordinarily heavy rains) but that never happened. Finally, all the neighbors in the area got together, raised the money, obtained the right-of-ways and put in an emergency road, which proved its worth the other day.
Fire season has become more than a few vulnerable months. According to some recent studies, the Arctic ice melting means that weather patterns off the Califonia coast have changed and we are going to be hit with more droughts that last longer. Researchers estimate that California rainfall will drop 10-15 percent in the coming decades and the variation in different years would increase—some very dry, others very wet—with 10-15 percent being the average change.