News Briefs

Mark Burnett, creator of "Survivor" and reality TV producer, and wife Roma Downey, actress ("Touched by an Angel"), received honorary doctorate degrees and gave the commencement address at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Business and Management 2009 graduation on Saturday. Photo by Ron Hall

Ramirez homeowners lose suit against SMM Conservancy

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Richard B. Wolfe issued a final decision last week against the Ramirez Canyon Preservation Fund, which sought an injunction to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s plan to implement overnight camping at certain Malibu parks.

The conservancy’s Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Plan would include an amendment to Malibu’s local coastal program and allow overnight camping in Ramirez, Corral and Escondido canyons.

The enhancement plan has long been criticized on various grounds by Malibu officials and residents who are opposed to overnight camping in the canyons because of heightened fire risks and the narrow accesses for emergency vehicles to the areas. Though the proposed plan would prohibit campfires, residents doubt the extent to which that rule would be enforced.

The City of Malibu has also proposed an amendment to its local coastal program that would prohibit overnight camping. The California Coastal Commission will hear the rival proposed LCP amendments when it meets from June 10 to 12 in the Los Angeles area. The Ramirez Canyon Preservation Fund’s lawsuit claimed the conservancy violated state law last year by granting $385,000 of its $20 million of voter-approved Proposition 50 bond money to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for the parks enhancement project. Also included in the grant was money designated to cover litigation costs involved with the parks project. The plaintiffs, led by Thousand Oaks resident Jere Robings, say the bond money can only be granted to certain kinds of entities, and the MRCA does not qualify. They also say that money cannot be used for litigation.

The park enhancement plan proposes to create a total of 29 overnight camping sites at the parks in Ramirez, Escondido and Corral canyons; 32 special events per year at the conservancy’s Ramirez Canyon property; a 32-space parking lot at the top of Winding Way and improvements to local trails to create the Coastal Slope Trail that would connect the east and west ends of Malibu.

Malibu High School selected as ‘Distinguished’ School’

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in a press release Monday announced Lincoln Middle School and Malibu High School as two of 261 secondary schools that have been selected as 2009 California Distinguished Schools, an annual award that recognizes some of the state’s exemplary public schools.

“The Distinguished Schools program always identified schools that are leaders in academic achievement. It now also recognizes schools that are leaders in helping all students succeed,” State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell said in the press release.

This year, the selection process required schools to provide an in-depth description of two “signature” practices implemented at the schools that are replicable, and directly related to the success of its students. During an intensive site visitation by a trained team of external educators, additional evidence about the effectiveness of the “signature” practices was gathered and analyzed.

Firefighters to ‘Fill the Boot’ for neuromuscular disease research

Malibu firefighters will stand, boots in hand, at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Drive on Thursday through Sunday to collect money for their annual “Fill-the-Boot” fundraising campaign to benefit victims of neuromuscular disease. They raised $38,558 in donations last year.

Fill-the-Boot funds support medical clinics staffed with specialists in muscle disease and accessible summer camp for kids. Proceeds also help fund worldwide research programs seeking treatments for diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

More information can be obtained by calling 310.390.6802.

Corral Canyon signal to fully operate Thursday

The City of Malibu anticipates that the newly implemented traffic light at Corral Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway will be fully operational by Thursday this week, according to a city press release. The ancillary roadwork is currently being completed.

The city council listed the need for a signal at the Corral Canyon intersection as the number one priority when it approved the Pacific Coast Highway Turn Improvement Feasibility Study in September 2004. In 2008, following numerous project challenges relating to the site design and permitting, contract negotiations and the state budget crises, the city provided the funding to begin the project.

“This has been a long time coming and I’m really proud of how our staff and Caltrans worked together to overcome the challenges until the job was done,” Mayor Andy Stern said in the press release. “Safety is something that we cannot set aside while we wait for the economy to straighten itself out.”


Sitting shotgun (literally)

April 9-An abandoned, tan-colored pickup truck with a California license plate and a Lost Hills red tag on its windshield was found on Coastline Drive at 9:25 p.m., according to a Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s deputy’s report. After determining the vehicle had not been moved for a significant amount of time, Sheriff’s deputies searched it and discovered three Beretta Silver-Pigeon II shotguns with engravings of birds. All attempts to contact the vehicle owner were met with negative results. A tow truck was dispatched to transport the vehicle to the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.

All shook up

April 4-Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of battery at 6:30 p.m. on Heathercliff Road, according to a Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s deputy’s report. The victim, a male security guard assigned to the guard kiosk on Heathercliff Road, said a male visitor drove up and wanted to see a resident of the gated community. The guard said he could not identify the male visitor in the security system. The resident then responded to a phone call from the male visitor, who met him at the gate, then the resident grabbed the guard’s arms and shook him in anger for not allowing the visitor through the gate, the report stated. The guard said he does not want to press charges but wants the incident documented for his employer. The property manager was notified about the incident as well, the report stated. Sheriff’s deputies went to the unit to speak with the resident but he was not home.

Careening off Kanan

April 17-A sport utility vehicle swerved off Kanan Road in Malibu on Friday and tumbled down an embankment, sparking a small brush fire and leaving the woman behind the wheel injured, authorities said.

The crash off winding Kanan Road just north of the tunnel in the Malibu hills above Mulholland Highway was reported to the California Highway Patrol at 12:26 a.m., said CHP Officer Alex Gonzalez.

The woman was taken by helicopter to a hospital, according to Los Angeles County fire officials, although the extent of the woman’s injuries was not known.

Gonzalez said officers at the scene were investigating the possibility that the motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

-Olivia Damavandi