Part three of getting to know your now five candidates campaigning for your vote this November Q&A
By The Malibu Times Editorial Board
On Friday, Oct. 14, Malibu City Council Candidate Jimy Tallal announced that she was dropping out of the race.
Tallal released the following statement:
“I want to thank all of my many supporters for their ongoing help during my run for Malibu City Council.
Unfortunately, some things have come up, and I’ve decided to drop out of the race for personal reasons.
Instead, I ask my supporters to vote for Marianne Riggins and Doug Stewart for City Council, both of whom are excellent candidates.”
Tallal had no further comment at this time.
City Council Candidates 2022 Q&A Part III
As Tallal drops out of the race, campaigning continues for the five remaining candidates seeking election for the two open seats on Malibu’s City Council.
In alphabetical order by last name, the five candidates are Ryan Embree, Hap Henry, Marianne Riggins, Bill Sampson, and Doug Stewart.
As a follow-up to the last two weeks’ City Council Candidates 2022 Q&A, each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same list of questions from The Malibu Times Editorial Board in 150 words or less in addition to their introduction and statement at 200 words. In light of Tallal’s exit from the election, we have removed her answers from the questionnaire.
The candidate’s answers are presented in alphabetical order by last name. Please refer to last week’s paper for Part II and Oct. 6 for Part I.
Question: Can Malibu support an independent school district with a dwindling population and fewer children enrolled in local public schools?
Embree: Yes. The funding is more than adequate under all scenarios proposed by the current factions. Our schools have been at the bottom of the totem pole for far too long. It’s time to become independent and use our property taxes to fund state-of-the-art schools that will attract families and students. Reducing year-round STRs and Pacaso fractional ownership real estate will bring families back to Malibu.
Henry: Yes, although Malibu’s student population is currently low relative to when I graduated from Malibu High in 2010, I envision Malibu having the nation’s premier school district in the near future.
This is an issue of local control, as we are currently within a District that neither understands nor meets Malibu’s needs as a community. We pay SMMUSD over twice as much in property taxes versus what we receive in return. We owe it to our students to offer the best possible public education and extracurricular programs, which they are not currently receiving. This has resulted in many families opting to send their children to private schools or homeschool.
As we limit STRs, continue Woolsey rebuilds, and explore housing options affordable to Malibu’s working class and young families, our student population will grow once again.
Riggins: The studies done by experts in our community show that a Malibu Unified School District is financially viable. Additionally, we have seen that parents have responded positively to a healthy, safe school site with the increase in enrollment at Malibu Middle School. Having local control will allow our residents to make decisions in Malibu about how our schools operate, fundraise and educate our children. We need to take additional steps to create a community that families want to live in by increasing our community recreation and fulfilling the unmet sport facilities needs of our community outlined in our General Plan.
Sampson: Contrary to the “loaded” question, Malibu can and will support its students. The population has indeed decreased – in large part due to Woolsey and the unacceptably slow rate of rebuilds. Every house converted to a short-term rental is a house that will deprive our schools and our community of school children. Every house sold to an eight-member LLC, such as Pacaso, for use as the equivalent of a time share for once in a while, residents is a house that will not have school children. Part of addressing the school issues is addressing those other issues.
There are smaller and vibrant school districts. We have a population that values, I would say, cherishes education. We can most certainly have our own school district once we unwrap the tentacles of SMMUSD.
Stewart: While the number of students in the schools today is listed as one of the considerations for a separate school district, it is reported not to be an essential requirement. It is well understood that the present less than satisfactory nature of the local schools that is driving the demand for separation is also a deterrent to many parents to add their children to the school population. Build a better to best school system for Malibu, and there is little doubt that the school-age families and their children will return to Malibu and our schools in addition to future Woolsey rebuilds.
Question: How would you address the current situation at Camp Kilpatrick?
Embree: This is currently threatened litigation by the City. My comments are of record opposing the intensification of use without a California Environmental Quality assessment. The City was not consulted regarding emergency evacuation or inmate re-capture scenarios. This is a Public Safety problem that the the Public Safety Commission should have tracked and reviewed.
Henry: High-level offenders have no place in a minimum-level facility, and I am committed to working with our County Supervisors to address this irresponsible and short-sighted decision. Camp Kilpatrick is located in an extremely high-risk fire region, surrounded by private homes, and lacks the infrastructure and security to ensure that high-level offenders do not pose a threat to public safety.
Riggins: Our partners at the County and State level are making policies that do not include input from all stakeholders, and this needs to change. The intensification of those being housed at Camp Kilpatrick was implemented without considering the effects on neighbors, and any neighbor concerns were dismissed.
Our city leaders need to work with the County and State to change how their decisions are made, and they need to be shown that we are willing partners to find solutions to mutual issues, but our concerns are valid. The facilities at Camp Kilpatrick need to be improved to reflect the change in use both for the protection of the neighbors but also for the people who work and are housed at the facility and other facilities like it.
Sampson: The best solution would be to persuade the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to rescind its decision to place serious offenders in a facility designed for lower level offenders. I have personally worked with those lower-level offenders in an effort to provide them some hope in what, in almost all instances, have been very bleak lives. I have never felt threatened. Now I do.
The vote of our outgoing Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, was simply wrong in my opinion. What the Supervisors can do, they can undo, and we should certainly request same.
If all else fails, this may be an issue to litigate for the protection of our residents, a potential solution not lightly undertaken. It is expensive, and the results are never 100 percent certain. Lawyers specializing in the field should be consulted so that we may review our options to protect our residents.
Stewart: Kilpatrick and its potential felons who are not really juveniles is a problem caused by the County and must therefore be solved by the County. Having a new County Supervisor for our District 3 will hopefully bring a fresh view to the problem and a favorable solution. In the meantime, we must pursue our current approach of demanding the proper environmental review be in place before Kilpatrick expands operation, working with our fellow cities in the area for a regional voice of disapproval and potentially a regional legal response if needed.
Question: What is your plan to address homelessness in Malibu?
Embree: We need an outside Malibu facility, near medical and mental health resources, that we can offer housing to our homeless population. We have a no camping ordinance that can be enforced and can bring the unhoused to this facility if they oblige. I proposed an oversized vehicle ordinance in the 1990s, which was opposed by the City Attorney, who had ideas to criminalize sleeping in vehicles and add no camping. They were two different concepts, and Malibu lost on historic prohibition of oversized vehicles as a result – conflating the two issues.
Henry: In 2017, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase to address homelessness. This year, Malibu did not receive any Measure H funds due to the narrow scope of qualifying projects, so we must work with our County leaders to ensure that we can utilize these funds in order to do our part to tackle homelessness.
Riggins: We need to continue to support our local groups that are working with the homeless, they are our frontlines and know best what policies and programs are working. We need to also work with the County of Los Angeles and State of Ca to ensure that we have access to the billions of dollars in funds that have been allocated to address homelessness. Our Homelessness Taskforce has been doing great work to find solutions for the proliferation of vehicles that have been parking overnight on our local streets. We need to provide tools to our local law enforcement so they can effectively enforce our local laws when illegal activity occurs.
Sampson: I have served on the City of Malibu Homelessness Task Force for more than a year. I have learned quite a bit about the problem of homelessness. The problem was not caused by nor did it originate in Malibu. Malibu should not be called upon to fix a problem, not of its creation. Sympathetic assistance in going to a location that can provide services is essential.
The City is currently pursuing the possibility of three beds outside of Malibu to which willing persons can be transported. Those unwilling to accept assistance should bear the consequences of that decision – not be tolerated abusing residents. Discouraging others similarly situated from moving here following other bad choices is one of my goals. If potential new residents of this sort learn that bad behavior will not be tolerated, they won’t come – word travels fast in every community.
Stewart: Malibu has quietly addressed the homeless problem with its contract with the People Concern, the Sheriff’s Homeless Support and Mental Teams, and the volunteerism of its residents. The year-over-year reduction in the official homeless count is testimony to the success of those efforts. The impact of Martin v. Boise, the most recent extension of that decision, and the State’s passage of the CARES Act, brings another set of challenges to how we deal with the homeless. Clearly, we need a Boise compliant Alternative Sleeping Location to address those still living on the street. However, this is a regional matter and should be addressed with the County and our area Cities to create an effective and efficient regional solution rather than a Malibu-only problem and solution.
Question: Where do you propose to put a tow lot?
Embree: The Civic Center is the proper strategic location for a year-round operation of a tow service and vehicle impound lot and has zoning conducive to this historic use.
That is totally different from the temporary detention/reclamation location that the Public Safety Commission and City Council improperly imposed on Point Dume. Malibu High School’s parking lot was unused on peak enforcement dates. A better relationship with SMMUSD officials, and Board, could have implemented in that location. Because the City Council hears Appeals from Planning Commission, I know and will do better. My opponent, Doug Stewart, fills a seat on the Public Safety Commission and parroted a false narrative that 1,000 tows needed to be done, that the City made a substantial income from each tow, and that the Point Dume lot was essential. I served on Public Safety Commission longer than Doug and know that was untrue and wrong and violated zoning.
Henry: The current tow lot location at PCH between Portshead and Heathercliff is not the correct location. I propose we re-engage SMMUSD to utilize space at Malibu High School for this purpose. Alternatively, using a small portion of the Chili Cook-Off site or another parcel in the Civic Center area may be an option.
Riggins: We have two needs when it comes to local vehicle towing and storage. We have a year-round need and a summer seasonal need. Our year-round towing and storage needs should be housed in our civic center area; unfortunately, there is not currently a location to meet that need. Our summer seasonal need should be located closer to our most popular beaches and public areas. Our Public Safety commission is focused on identifying locations for the future; we need to see what they identify as potential sites and determine what is best for our community.
Sampson: The term “tow lot” is a misnomer. We are talking about a temporary “impound” lot used until vehicles are towed to a true tow lot outside of Malibu. If an impound lot is truly needed, it should be where it has been in past years – in the upper parking lot at Malibu High School. A little give and take with the school district should accomplish that task – as advocated by Councilmembers Uhring and Silverstein.
I do question whether an impound lot is needed in Malibu at all. A better solution is to find ways to better prevent the need to tow vehicles in the first instance, and to have more tow trucks available to tow the vehicles to a true tow lot outside of Malibu – which also will help to reduce the number of vehicles requiring towing once word gets out of the extreme cost and inconvenience to the offenders.
Stewart: There is only a need to have a temporary day impound location/lot during heavy visitor times of the year. This is in effect a parking lot to bring impounded cars to until the owner can redeem the vehicle that same day or have it transferred to the tow company’s actual tow yard outside of Malibu. There are only a few land parcels that are zoned for such a temporary site, and even most of those are not workable. One of the unused parking lots at the high school was the traditional location for this requirement. Because of the school construction programs, this was not practical for the last few years. However, the School District, as part of the recent City approvals for additional new construction, has agreed to work with the City to reopen the school lots in the future. This should solve the problem going forward.
Question: What is your plan for library set aside funds?
Embree: As I stated above, I support a Western Malibu Library project with the $16 million funding becoming available for City use. A combined facility could provide meeting rooms for Seniors, Teens and soundproof rooms for podcasts and musical instrument practice and recording while continuing the Speakers Series.
Henry: I would explore using our library set aside funds for public amenities such as a cultural and performing arts center, community garden, meeting space, and youth and senior facilities. Malibu sorely lacks venues for residents to gather, and a multi-purpose meeting space on the western half of town would be a valuable addition to our community.
Riggins: The library set aside funds should be used to continue and develop educational programs in our community. We should create programs that highlight our environment and the great programs and policies that Malibu has implement to improve our environment, including Malibu Dark Skies, Poison Free Malibu, and our Plastic straw/utensil ban. We should be hosting classroom programs throughout our community to show how fragile our world is and how to protect this great place we call home. We should also be creating programs to increase access to our local library. We should be making sure that everyone in our community has access to library programs and features, especially those with limit mobility.
Sampson: The use of library set aside funds is governed by a “Memorandum of Understanding” between the City and the County. The funds are for Malibu’s use alone. Use of the funds outside Malibu is a breach of the contract.
It appears that a substantial sum of Malibu’s money has been misappropriated for uses inconsistent with the contract. There will be legal and tactical decisions made as to whether recovery can or should be pursued. I’ll exercise prudence in that regard. It is clear that mistakes were made and must be avoided going forward.
A West Malibu branch, a Chumash exhibit, or a performing arts center added to the existing library are all possibilities. The County is holding our money for these purposes depending on resident desires.
Stewart: The Library set aside funds are governed by an agreement with the County, and that agreement must be followed as to the use of funds and the library projects to serve the needs of Malibu. Since this agreement was created nearly two decades ago, the purpose and use of the Malibu library has evolved to meet the digital world. The underlying agreement needs to be followed and potentially updated to use the accumulated excess funds to deliver the library facilities and operations that Malibu should have to address the needs of the 21st century.
City Council Candidates 2022 Q&A Part I and II see below: