City Council elects new mayor and mayor pro tem, addresses celebrity-permitted events

Steve Uhring was elected as mayor, and Doug Stewart was elected as mayor pro tem. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Steve Uhring was elected as mayor and Doug Stewart was elected as mayor pro tem 

The election of mayor and mayor pro tem, the Malibu Triathlon and celebrity permitted events were addressed on Monday night’s City Council meeting. Steve Uhring was elected as mayor, and Doug Stewart was elected as mayor pro tem. 

“First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to my wife, my fellow city councilmembers, and the people in Malibu for placing their trust in me,” Uhring said. “I pledge to work to advocate for the benefit of our beautiful city; special recognition should really go to my wife because she’s the one who encouraged me to run for City Council.”

City Manager Steve McClary provided an update on city events and upcoming agenda items. To read the city events, visit our calendar and news briefs.

McClary apologized for the lighting in the chambers. There was no lighting at the podium where public speakers stand, and they were unable to be seen on the cameras for Zoom participants.

“We are actually in the midst of doing an upgraded project, and we ran into some issues with that, but rest assured, we should have that all completed and looking better for the next regular meeting on Oct. 9,” McClary said.

McClary said there will be an update on the Malibu Middle/High School local coastal plan amendment and an update on the school separation during the Oct. 9 City Council meeting.

One topic that was highly addressed was a permitted event that was quickly granted by the city for a company owned by Kourtney Kardashian called Poosh.

On Thursday, Sept. 21, Councilmember Bruce Silverstein learned of a party planned at a vacant house in his neighborhood. The event, due to its size, needed a Special Event Permit, which on Thursday it did not have. 

Silverstein took to Facebook to address his concerns regarding the city for giving preferential treatment to wealthy permit seekers. 

By Friday, a permit was requested and granted for the Saturday event. The applicant was not a Malibu resident but an event planning company staging a promotion for a company owned by Kardashian’s company.

The quick turnaround on the SEP without prior notice to neighbors bothers Silverstein. He wrote to the city: “It is unacceptable that the city staff, including the planning director, interim city attorney, and possibly the city manager would together move heaven and earth to get this accomplished on no day’s advance notice for a celebrity when our residents are required to wait days, weeks, and even months for such attention respecting matters of much greater concern than a celebrity party.”

The SEP imposed various conditions, including same-day set-up and take-down that Silverstein indicates were apparently violated without consequence. 

McClary responded to a few concerns raised by the councilmembers and public speakers on the special events permits. McClary read the municipal code.

“I just want people to understand what the city rules is in the terms of these, so the municipal code requires a special permit on any event in residential property in city limits that would have the following components: 100 or more persons, an admissions fee, public advertising if the event takes places at a venue,” McClary said. “Special event permit applications must be submitted to the planning department public counter at city hall and can be submitted the same day, no mail notices are required to notify neighbors the event is taking place.” 

McClary said he was told from the city staff that it is not “unusual” for homeowners and event organizers to apply for and receive a Special Event Permit a day before the event. 

Silverstein asked how frequently the city receives event permits the day they are requested and even the day before the event takes place. 

McClary said he will be investigating the permit and will provide a full report. The Malibu Times will have a follow-up story next week.

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs Sgt. Chris Soderlund provided a brief report on recent crime that occured in Malibu and the status of the Malibu Triathlon.

“Regardless of what happens tonight, we are staffed and ready to go, and we’re going to make sure it’s fun and safe for everyone,” Soderlund said.

During council updates, Uhring raised his concerns with receiving a letter from Attorney Ann Ravel from Los Gatos, claiming two Malibu planning commissioners’ work as local contractors creates a conflict of interest “specifically in matters in which they have a reasonably foreseeable material financial benefit.”

City Attorney Trevor Rusin said the item is not on the agenda, so they are unable to create discussion, so the council motioned to bring the item back to a closed session for discussion. 

The council approved the creation of a Code Enforcement Ad Hoc Committee. At the Aug. 14 City Council regular meeting, the council directed staff to bring back an item for it to consider forming an ad hoc committee to work with the city attorney and staff on a review of the city’s code enforcement fines and penalties. The council will appoint two councilmembers to the committee and direct the committee to report back to council on its findings and recommendations. This project will need to be considered in relation to other City Council priorities to determine if there is enough bandwidth to work on this initiative.

Silverstein circled back to address the Kardashian Poosh party permit and said the event was not handled properly. 

“This was not a one-off problem, it’s a problem with the cities handling or lack thereof of Nobu, it’s a problem with the cities handling of events recently in Big Rock, it’s a problem with the cities handling of the wedding palooza on Broad Beach during the ‘Hurriquake,’ it’s a problem with the cities handling of large events regularly held on Point Dume, it’s a problem with the cities handling of short term rentals, and fractianal share homeownership, it’s a problem our residents face on a regular basis,” Silverstein said. “It’s an endemic problem that needs to be fixed with action and not just words.”

Silverstein said after experiencing that event, he understood what the residents in Point Dume experience. 

“This event this weekend didn’t disturb me in the least; it gave me an excellent opportunity to see what is happening, what i’ve been hearing about in Big Rock, what I hear in Point Dume; it was a tremendous opportunity and a great platform to be able to come here now and talk about it,” Silverstein said.

Stewart added, “This is a small town, we’re 10,000 people, we’re trying to keep our rural community, it’s part of our mission statement, it’s the reason why Malibu is Malibu and to turn it into Disneyland is not our intention.”

The council addressed the Malibu Triathlon after 10 p.m. Nearly 20 speakers attended the meeting in-person and through Zoom in favor of the event. 

Just after midnight, four councilpersons voted to grant the The Malibu Triathlon’s temporary use permit and councilperson Bruce Silverstein abstaining.

The Triathlon will be held as scheduled on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at Zuma Beach, using a city-approved modified bicycle path because of the Zuma underpass closure. Approximately, 3,700 participants will swim, run, and bicycle. To read more about the event, read the article on A1 by Barbara Burke. 

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 9.