The six candidates running for two open seats on the Malibu City Council presented their platforms at a forum on Saturday presented by the Malibu Democratic Club. With strict short answering periods, the six vying for a council seat answered questions on a number of topics.
The emcee of the event was Jane Albrecht, who set the tone of the forum by stating that this was the first in-person forum since 2018 before the Woosley Fire.
In opening statements, 30-year resident Ryan Embree started by addressing that there is an issue with his campaign for Malibu City Council in 2006, which is unresolved and a personal matter, not criminal. Embree then moved on, saying he would like to see another library branch in Point Dume and that there’s money to build it.
Lifelong resident Hap Henry would like to restore a “Malibu way of life” that he said has disappeared and increase public recreational opportunities with a pool, performing arts center, garden, and skatepark.
City employee Marianne Riggins, another lifelong resident, favors more city recreational opportunities including a pool, skatepark, and improved communication with the city’s neighboring partners.
Forty-two-year resident Bill Sampson said the city dropped the ball on the proliferation of short-term rentals. He also promised, “Whoever is first will be mayor.”
Twenty-three-year-resident Doug Stewart declared, “I am not a real estate developer, never have been.” He mentioned he is a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member and the Vice Chair of the Public Safety Commission.
Jimy Tallal, who lost her home in the Woolsey Fire, touted her business experience, conflict resolution experience, and 12 years writing about local issues for The Malibu Times newspaper. She is a 24-year resident.
One of the topics the candidates were divided on was the temporary use of a city-owned lot on Heathercliff Road used as a tow yard for illegally parked cars in the city.
Tallal reminded, “It’s just a temporary thing until the high school construction is done. I didn’t understand why Point Dume residents got so upset. It had to go somewhere. Nobody wanted it. We didn’t want to pay the tow company to take cars all the way to Thousand Oaks. They put up a privacy screen so you don’t have to look at the cars. It only takes up a small area.” Tallal added she didn’t think the site would be permanent.
Embree called the lot “a big mistake.” He said the city was in a time constraint bind and told by the Public Safety Commission there would be “thousands of cars that had to be towed. The city was making bank off of this — $150 a tow. What we found out was there was only a handful of tows going on. It grew out of misinformation.” He said the city should have known better if anyone had looked back at towing history records.
Henry agreed, saying, “The city dropped the ball on this with a lack of foresight and planning.” He questioned why “the Chili Cook-Off site was not explored more thoroughly,” especially for Labor Day weekend.
Sampson added, “We were wrong on putting all these cars at Heathercliff. We can do better. Thank heaven it is temporary. I know the Public Safety people worked hard. The school district, I wished they played ball with us.” Sampson said his preference would have been above Broad Beach where the lot previously was.
As a Public Safety commissioner, Stewart challenged Embree on his assertion that real estate agents brokered the deal. Stewart said when Malibu Tow did the work there were “1,500 cars towed a year. So far this year there have been 305 cars towed since June 18. That’s 38 cars a weekend.” After a busy Labor Day weekend that saw the closure of two beach parking lots, Stewart said the Public Safety Commission will have an after-action review of the “way we handled that. It was critical situation with the Sheriff’s Department to get those cars out of the way.”
Riggins called the tow lot “a success. Anybody who has a driveway along Pacific Coast Highway or someone who has a fire hydrant near their house, if something had happened and there had been a car illegally parked in those areas, what would you have done if you had an emergency at your house? The Public Safety Commission spent a long time looking at a variety of lots. The high school lot was not available because of construction. This is an unfortunate reality with 15 million people coming to your city annually. You have to deal with illegally parked cars.”
Another topic addressed by the candidates concerned the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority that is constantly at odds with Malibu residents over trail and beach access rights and their stewardship of public land.
To watch the forum go to Tiny.cc/MalibuCity2022