Changes in commissioners underway

The Public Works Commission Meeting on March 23 began with the election of the chair and vice chair of the Public Works Commission and the departure of commissioner James Palmer. Wade Major will serve as chair and Scott Dittrich as vice chair.

First public speaker was Jo Drummond who is taking the place of commissioner James Palmer on the Public Works commission this month.

“Thanks to the generosity and sensitivity of Jim Palmer and Bruce Silverstein in creating more space for women input at the city,” Drummond said. “As a commissioner I plan on keeping the residents informed and representing their wishes in putting the environment, residents and safety first above all. I look forward to working with you all.”

Public Works Director Rob DuBoux provided a staff update on the Caltrans Trancas Bridge replacement project construction and utility work.

Commissioner James Palmer announced his voluntary resignation to include a woman on the Public Works Commission. 

“The last few months with City Council, it has come to my attention that of the 25 commissioners that are appointed by the City Council only four are women,” Palmer said. “So ironically [it] is Women’s International Month and I thought it would be in the spirit of equity, and in fairness and the fact that women represent more than half of our community, that the right thing for me to do is to resign my commission.”

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Palmer said Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein appointed Drummond in his place which came into effect at Monday’s City Council meeting.

“With that said, I appreciate everyone’s assistance in always trying to do the right thing,” Palmer said. “And one thing that we should always include in our commissions meeting is to reference the Malibu mission statement, which briefly says that Malibu will maintain its real character by establishing programs and policies that will avoid suburbanization and commercialization of the natural resources. We’re all here for the same reason: we love Malibu and we want to preserve Malibu, we always want to do the right thing for Malibu.”

Palmer said although they might disagree on many things, he hopes projects such as the broken pipe on Malibu Road gets fixed.

“My biggest takeaway is how difficult it is to get things done and the disconnect between the community, the residents and the employees of the city of Malibu,” Palmer said.

Palmer referenced the broken pipe and asked DuBoux to prioritize that, “please do your service to the community and fix the broken pipe.”

“We’ve been talking about it for the past 10 years, and I’ve been talking about it for the past six years, and at this point nothing’s been done. I’ve repeated myself more times than I could count,” Palmer said. “I would like to see fixing this broken pipe at the top of the agenda of the public works projects — that’s really my biggest failure as a commissioner is not being able to get this simple task completed, otherwise I’ve received a tremendous education in how government works and I will continue to be here for the City of Malibu promoting to try to preserve our natural and cultural resources.”

Former Public Works Chair Lance Simmens and Major thanked Palmer for his time spent on the commission and agreed on the importance of having unanimous votes. 

“Jim, it has been a real privilege,” Major said. “Appreciate your fighting spirit and please continue that even off the commission I fully expect you winding up on a commission somewhere again in the future, and Jo welcome to the club, it’s going to be a lot of fun moving forward. We’re going to get a lot of work done.” 

Assistant Public Works Director Troy Spayd provided an update on the Capital Improvement Projects and Disaster Recovery Projects Status Report. DuBoux presented the first draft of the five-year capital improvement plan for the 2020-27 Fiscal Year.

DuBoux said the five-year plan is a planning document they use to identify upcoming projects, develop resources, obtain funding, and create a realistic work plan to move forward. The total cost of the work plan projects would be $32,639,308. 

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of resources — in other words, enough staff time to do a lot of these projects,” DuBoux said. “We can’t do everything all at once, it’s just unfeasible. We don’t have enough staff to do everything so we have to balance the need to what projects are done in a priority manner and balance that with our existing resources.”

DuBoux said they’ll be performing a traffic study on Malibu Canyon Road. 

“We’re hoping with that traffic study we can develop different alternatives to improvements we can do at that intersection,” DuBoux said. 

DuBoux highlighted a few projects: PCH utility undergrounding, improvements on the intersection on Las Flores and Rambla Pacifico, improvements from city limits to Cross Creek Road, pedestrian signal at 22523 PCH and resuming the City Hall Solar Project which was put on hold from Woolsey Fire. 

The next Public Works Commission meeting is scheduled for April 27, at 3:30 p.m. Visit, malibucity.org/virtualmeetings

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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