Malibu City finally did something right, and obvious, at its recent meeting. As I comment on public radio 99.1 KBU and select websites everywhere, it voted unanimously to pursue the purchase of three prominent properties; two in the now scattered and scarred so called civic center, and the other at the cluttered and confused entry to Point Dume. The total indicated price is $42.5 million,
But the praise for the City stops here, for I feel that though the purchase should be pursued, it also raises serious concerns, and necessitate the very close monitoring of our less the competent staff and council.
I note that almost immediately after the meeting, the usually paranoid and less than transparent City Hall put out a press release, praising itself for the purchase by claiming to be fiscally responsible, and quoting its moustache of the moment, rookie Mayor Rick Mullen.
Pardon me smirking, but I can’t remember when the city was so quick to issue a statement. Certainly it didn’t when disavowing any responsibility for the construction mess screwing up traffic on the PCH, explaining it was principally a matter between private developers and the bumbling Caltrans. Civil servants, indeed!
Only reluctantly did the city get involved in the management of the projects to mitigate the traffic delays, and only after being embarrassed to do so by angry Malibu driver.
As for the private developers, it should be said they were empowered by the city, which not only yielded to their wrangling for zoning abuses, but also bowing to their commercial imperatives.
I mention that here because it is the lack of any planning imagination or initiative that, not coincidentally, fattened the price of the parcels the city is now pursuing at what they say is fair market value.
I also must observe that being fat from fees and taxes does not make one fiscally responsible, as the city’s press release boasts.
In fact, in the case of Malibu, it is my opinion it has made the city less than responsible, administratively fat and lazy, prone to sit at their P.Cs and outsource work. Over the years this has resulted in millions of dollars to avaricious consultants, including, in at least one prime instance, without any proper accountability. The abuses continue.
This apparently has sadly shifted City Hall’s priorities to primarily payrolls, pensions and perks, rather serving residents. And in turn surreptitiously has led the constant care and feeding of councilpersons, approving trips and expenses, and who are endlessly delaying public meetings to have their pictures taken by toady staff.
And let us not to forget the additional legal fees to our well-compensated city attorney and her office. Let’s face it, Malibu has been a gravy train for some, a trough for others.
So, getting to the point of this recitation, while praising the purchase of the properties for the city’s land bank, given the poor history of our past and present City Hall, it is imperative that there be some responsible citizen oversight to the process and professional planning necessary to benefit a future Malibu.
If not, this purchase could easily become a bureaucratic paper game on City Hall desks, an annuity of sorts for some. Unless Malibu voters demand change.