Letter to the Editor: Impression of May 13 City Council meeting 

Letter to the Editor: The Malibu Times

Dear Editor,

I am a frequent participant and/or observer of our City Council meetings, as well as other department and commission meetings. I take exception to what Councilman Doug Stewart wrote in last week’s Letter’s to the Editor section titled “Respect and proper decorum must return to Malibu council meetings.” I attended that meeting by Zoom and I just reviewed it again on YouTube to make sure my first impression was correct.

Regarding Mr. Stewart’s assertion that there was “verbal abuse of city planning staff by one or more members of the council,” I find that to be untrue. Common sense questions were asked of the staff planner, and there was a back-and-forth discussion, but it was not a verbal assault in any stretch of the imagination. Mayor Steve Uhring ran the meeting in a professional manner as he always does. Mr. Bruce Silverstein raised questions about staff procedures that were important, and read letters from residents opposed to this project. I imagine staff was embarrassed when shortcomings were revealed, but the questions needed to be asked.   

As to the members of the audience reacting to what was said at the council meeting, the audience was not raucous or out of line from what I could tell as a Zoom participant. They did not disrupt the meeting in any way. This is not a judge’s chamber, and sometimes reactions such as laughter or light clapping are not out of order, especially in this situation. Sometimes spontaneous responses just happen. This was an important appeal that the residents had to pay for, and obviously they were invested in the outcome. Were they supposed to remain completely silent? And if a funny comment is made by a council member are they not to laugh?

I am happy that Mr. Stewart intends to ensure compliance in the future, but I hope proceedings will not become so strict we lose our humanity. I belong to many groups and over the years have attended many, many governmental and private meetings, so I do have a sense of what goes on. I thank our council people for their long hours of work, and their commitment to the Malibu Mission Statement.

Lonnie Gordon
Executive Director