Zoning subcommittee addresses harmful chemicals

During the ZORACES special meeting on Thursday, April 14, the subcommittee addressed the use of rodenticides, insecticides and herbicides and whether a policy or an ordinance to the Local Coastal Program (LCP) Local Implementation Plan (LIP) should be prepared to implement.

Since 2014, the city has been in efforts to eliminate environmentally harmful poisons from within the city limits and has taken numerous measures to restrict their use. However, the city’s efforts were hampered by state law that preempted the ability of municipalities in California to create laws prohibiting the use of state-regulated chemicals. 

Despite regulatory obstacles, in 2019, the city approved an Earth Friendly Management Policy, which governs pest management on city-owned, managed or leased property and bans the use of rodenticides on city property and prohibits their use in connection with any contract with the city. Also, in 2019, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 19-54 amending Land Use Plan Policy 3.18, which created a policy mechanism to allow the city to create a regulatory framework to address the use of pesticides, rodenticides, and insecticides throughout the city.

In 2021, after the council adopted the California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) modifications to LUP Policy 3.18, the council adopted Resolution No. 21-33 initiating an amendment to the LIP to add provisions to enforce LUP Policy 3:18. In addition, the council directed staff to work with community stakeholders to develop an ordinance. This report presents the outcome of meetings with community stakeholders and seeks the subcommittee’s guidance.

After the LCP amendment was submitted to the CCC, the state Legislature enacted AB 1788, which is a law that generally prohibits the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, except in certain instances, such as when used for eradication of invasive species on offshore islands. Although this law already restricts the use of rodenticides in Malibu, the subject LCP policy would go further than these restrictions because it would apply to all rodenticides and pesticides rather than just second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides.

On June 28, 2021, the City Council adopted the CCC’s modifications to the city’s proposed LCP Land Use Policy after numerous negotiations with the California Coastal Commission, city officials, and community stakeholders.

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“Except as permitted pursuant to this provision or Policy 3.20, throughout the City of Malibu, development that involves the use of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides or any other similar toxic chemical substances, shall be prohibited in cases where the application of such substances would have the potential to significantly degrade Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas or coastal water quality or harm wildlife,” the policy reads. “Herbicides may be used for the eradication of invasive plant species or habitat restoration, but only if the use of non-chemical methods for prevention and management such as physical, mechanical, cultural, and biological controls are infeasible. Herbicides shall be restricted to the least toxic product and method, and to the maximum extent feasible, shall be biodegradable, derived from natural sources, and used for a limited time.”

They recommended the city adopt a policy that determines that the application of pesticides, rodenticides, and insecticides is considered as development, rather than an ordinance, in order to expedite the implementation of LUP Policy 3:18. 

During public comment, residents were frustrated with the ineffectiveness of this issue and requested to create a policy before or while the ordinance is being put in place.

“I think we’ve been dancing around this thing for a long time and I’m tired of dancing around,” Councilmember Steve Uhring said. “I think we need to start getting something implemented that will enable us to start dealing with this and waiting for an ordinance. I think we’ve got to do something in the short run.” 

Uhring said he wants to make sure the commission has a strong law firm and is able to help defend their argument.

“I think the policy is the way to go,” Uhring said. “If we want to do an ordinance in the long run, let’s do that, but let’s get something going on that deals with these pesticides and prevents them from being used.” 

Planning Director Richard Mollica agreed with the health and safety issue for wildlife. 

Uhring voted to create a policy and councilmember Mikke Pierson motioned to bring forward the recommended draft policy to City Council. 

To view the April 14 agenda and the rest of the meeting items, visit malibucity.org/agendacenter

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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