Letter to the Editor: Opposition to Disbanding the Malibu Homelessness Task Force 

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Letter to the Editor: The Malibu Times

Dear Editor,

Below is a copy of a letter sent to the Malibu city manager, city safety manager, and City Councilmembers in opposition of reverting from the Brown Act body to an advisory board, Malibu Homelessness Task Force, and asking for appointees to replace vacant seats.

Letter to Council:

I am an appointee on our Malibu Homelessness Task Force and was made aware of discussions of disbanding this Brown act body in favor of a more informal “advisory board.” Though I have tremendous respect for the individual proposing this, I want to state my opposition to reverting to a less democratic and less productive group.

A Brown Act task force, consisting of two appointees of each councilperson, ensures that the process remains democratic and representative of the constituents the council serves. It makes it far less likely that the process will be co-opted by special interests, less representative groups, or succumb to volunteer fatigue.

The process of working within a Brown Act body is not expeditious, nor is it easy, but it is important that our community have the ability to follow the process, to comment, and to fully understand how the city forms policies. Our original 10 appointees came from vastly different points of view, but worked harmoniously, and respectfully, to come to conclusions that considered the needs of all who are stakeholders and who call Malibu home.

We need councilmembers to appoint vacancies so that we have the human resources it takes to do the research and the reporting to the city. We have made important, well-measured, and sometimes controversial suggestions to the city. In just our first few months of being formed, we researched and visited various housing frameworks and advised the city against adopting a no-barrier shelter model being proposed by Los Angeles County. This week, LA Mayor Karen Bass announced that the city will be reevaluating the “housing first, no-barrier shelters”, after the takeover of the now-failed Skid Row Housing Trust.

Our diverse body concluded that this was not an effective or sustainable model and would be especially ill-advised in our resource-scarce community.

It has been my honor to be involved in trying to improve our local homelessness situation through volunteerism and policymaking. I speak from experience when I say that it is important to have a body that is representative of our community. Transparency is crucial and is best afforded within the context of a Brown Act body, especially when trying to solve a sensitive problem that receives as much scrutiny as Homelessness.

Kelly Pessis
The Malibu Homelessness Task Force member