Public Works director provides an update on the recent sewage spill and the antenna tower

The 75-foot replacement tower was built in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, which require lights and colors, since it is adjacent to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helipad. Photo by Samantha Bravo.

The 75-foot replacement tower at Santa Monica College Malibu Campus continues to be an ongoing discussion in city meetings

Public Works Director Rob DeBoux provided an update on a few items that have been a concern during the Public Works Commission meeting on June 28, such as the recent sewage spill at Malibu Lagoon and the 75-foot replacement tower at the Santa Monica College Malibu Campus. 

On Thursday, June 8, an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of untreated sewage contaminated Malibu Lagoon State Beach and surrounding beaches for nearly a week. The cause of the sewage discharge was a damaged wastewater line, which resulted in sewage entering the storm drain at the corner of Malibu Canyon Road and Potter Road in Malibu. 

During the City Council meeting on Monday, June 12, City Manager Steve McClary provided an update on the sewage spill and said a vehicle struck into equipment that carried the sewage water and caused the sewage water to travel along Malibu Canyon Road and ultimately into the creek. McClary said the sewer line is owned by Pepperdine University and it conveys wastewater from the university. 

DeBoux commented on the commission’s concerns with the sewage spill.

“I have been in contact with Pepperdine group, and I have a meeting with them on how we can communicate better, but they went out there right away and shut the pumps out and did a bunch of cleanup to make to make sure all the wastewater was contained, and it didn’t get further down,” DeBoux said. 

DeBoux said they are looking for solutions to prevent future incidents. 

Chair Scott Dittrich asked DeBoux for an update on the antenna tower, and DeBoux said there are still waiting for a response from the college. The antenna tower has been an ongoing concern among residents and commissioners since June 2022

“We’re waiting for a response back from the college based on the non-compliance letter they have sent them,” DeBoux said. “It’s out of our … I haven’t heard from anything from them.”

The Emergency Communications Facilities tower was erected at the Santa Monica College Campus and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Substation in the Civic Center last year. Since the tower is adjacent to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helipad, it was built in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, which require lights and colors. 

Residents and city council members have expressed their concerns with the height and color of the tower and continues to call it “an eyesore” and “nuisance.”

In response to complaints from community members, staff prepared a memorandum to inform the City Council and the community about the project’s chronology and permits. 

DeBoux said they are adding the item to the future work plan. 

To read the memorandum visit, and search Santa Monica College — Malibu Campus Project.

For commissioner reports, Wade Major said they need to come up with a “more rigorous local method of noticing.” 

“So many people got their word, not by the mail, but through ‘Next Door,'” and the recent hearing in the Big Rock Assessment District. I didn’t get my letter until like two weeks after the hearing, because it somehow got caught in a postal loop and got postmarked twice,” Major said. 

Major suggests using the alert noticing systems for all city departments for hearings as well.

“I think we’ll get much better participation and feedback from the community,” Major said. 

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The next Public Works Commission meeting is scheduled for July 26.