From the Publisher: It’s Complicated

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Arnold G. York

The Senate is recessing for the Fourth of July break without a vote on the repeal of Obamacare, which means that majority leader Mitch McConnell didn’t have the votes to get it over the finish line. He wanted a vote before the break because, I’m guessing, he was speculating that many senators are going to get an earful from unhappy voters when they go back to their states. There are many voters who could get kicked off of insurance who are justifiably worried about that. The problem is that health insurance can’t be better and cheaper. If it’s cheaper, it can’t cover as much, which means higher copays and deductibles. If it’s better, it’s got to cost more. In either case, if the kids aren’t in it, the arithmetic doesn’t work, meaning the young and healthy have to help pay for the older and sicker — the rationale being someday they’re going to be older and sicker and some future generation is going to help pay for them. Unless something extraordinary happens, we won’t know the outcome until after the senators get back from the break.

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Our city council is struggling with the decision they made not to go ahead with an environmental impact report on Bluffs Park. I’ve heard rumors that some are beginning to rethink their decision not to proceed. A number of people showed up at council to urge them to do the EIR. The problem is not going to go away because, frankly, many people can’t understand their decision not to proceed, nor the reasoning behind that decision, which to many doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now with the possibility that Joe Edmiston of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy just might want to call off the wedding, the opportunity to pick up some additional land for recreation uses could be lost forever.

Incidentally, there is a letter from Joe in our letters section accusing us of going with “fake news” in last week’s story. Fake news is often in the eye of the beholder. What it generally means is that we didn’t go with their spin; that we unspun their spin and went with our own spin. Joe may call that “FAKE NEWS.” We prefer to call it “analysis.” In any event, he invited the city to give him a call — even put in his phone number just in case they misplaced it.

Joe Edmiston is a man of unlimited ambition and is driven by a sense of public mission. Currently, he’s back in action on the land acquisition front and just got his board’s go ahead to buy a vacant lot in Malibu’s Sycamore Park neighborhood for $1 million. Most all of the neighbors objected vociferously at the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy’s meeting, but to no avail. There are some very hairy legal questions involved. Once the property is purchased, it’s clear Joe intends to invite in the general public, even though the road is private. The argument runs that if the other landowners in the canyon can invite in their guests, well then so can the conservancy — except the conservancy’s guests are the entire general public. 

The danger is what happened on Winding Way, where hordes of people come on weekends to see the Murphy Falls up in the mountains. Residents are overwhelmed with people visiting, particularly with online apps directing people to the site. The problem is that the area can only handle some finite amount of visitors without it all being destroyed. It also requires restrooms and rangers to police the crowd, and often that simply doesn’t happen.

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The three member court of appeals panel came down unanimously with their decision on Measure R, related to the Whole Foods ballot measure and agreed with the trial court that the voters’ and cities’ attempt to block the Whole Foods project was illegal. If the California Supreme Court doesn’t accept the case, assuming they try to appeal it, the developers could be breaking ground in the near future.

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There is a brouhaha brewing over some of the oceanside land around the Adamson House, which appears to be eroding at an accelerating rate, some charge. A number of the ocean types claim that the renovation of the lagoon is the cause of not only the erosion of the land but also of the loss of some of the wave action around Surfrider Beach. Some surfers are charging this is the worst surf they’ve seen in many years. I know absolutely nothing about the ocean waves, but I spent 22 years of my life in courtrooms trying to prove up causation. What causes what to happen can be an enormously complex question. Or, to put it another way, what causes what to stop happening and why? It’s often very difficult to prove, one way or the other — with lots of experts, lots of contradictory evidence, lots of charges of bad faith and chicanery, and both sides complaining they simply can’t understand how people just don’t see something so obvious.

We’ve had heavy rainfall this past year following a number of years of drought. Is that a factor? Or perhaps it’s rising sea levels and weather shifts? Maybe the ocean heating up has changed he waves? It’s complicated.