The thought of the fire still haunts me, as I am sure it haunts many in Malibu, especially the burnouts but also persevering residents who are acutely concerned how it will effect the future city, other than at the present being a cash cow for select public serpents.
If you think “serpents” is too strong to describe select bean counters in our City Hall these day, read the last few paragraphs to this commentary, that also appears in Thelocal.com and select websites everywhere.
Meanwhile, I can still see from a sandy perch on free Zuma beach that monster cloud, dark with toxic ash, slowly drifting from above a west Malibu exploding in spasmodic flames, to cast an ominous shadow over Point Dume that fateful Friday afternoon.
That image and the view the next day of the smoldering ruins of homes of friends and neighbors, and our house miraculously still intact, will be with me for a long, long time. No need to bring up the few photos I took those days to conjure up memories..
“So so fucking lucky,” commented my New York learned lawyer and litigator daughter who usually picks her words carefully. Or what I know my deceased father would say, as he said to me once after a personal misfortune, “So, you‘re free and still got your health. Enjoy it.”
He should know, having somehow survived a world war, a revolution and a civil war in a ravaged Russia and some miserable years after journeying through a menacing Europe before settling in Paris. And as my mother would inevitably caution, “survivors shouldn’t look back.”
Nonetheless, the memory of the worst Malibu fire in history still weighs on my consciousness a full four months after, as I consider what to write for my commentary, while growing increasingly perturbed over how too many fire victims are being treated by miserly insurance companies and, worse, city apartichiks. And then there is an unapologetic, covetous city manager Reva Feldman smirking behind closed doors.
Exceptionally heart rendering and harrowing are the very personal stories of victims I hear in the coffee shops, on lines at Costco, and gossiping at the Trancas Canyon Dog Park, now that is finally open after being closed for two years (canine calculated).
Most plaintive is the candid comments posted in the social media, notably in Nextdoor Pt. Dume and Neighbors. It is must reading for anyone remotely involved in the Rebuild effort and needs to know what victims and others are thinking, and most importantly, feeling.
Personally, it makes me really angry To quote from just one written by a Point Dume resident of 59 years:” The city staff and employees are our public servants. How can it be that they are not offering, assisting, and helping homeowners with filling out forms? They should have samples for and a road map for success and directions to follow for applying for all of these processes. They should be ashamed of themselves and for their unprofessional and poor behavior in our community. Our City should be fighting for and aligning with us in these challenging times. If these rough tactics are not curbed right away, we may have another generation chased out of our once beautiful town. “
That greatly concerns me, and others. As another involved resident wrote: “What the city government really owes us is to make it possible for Malibu to return to its old self. We all know what Malibu used to be and the only way to return to that Aloha feeling is to allow rebuilding by those who have been forced out. Part of that is for the city council to tackle rent gouging with strict enforcement of the laws, lower the rebuild fees and stop the takeover of Malibu by short term rentals. Our locals need to live in Malibu…
As for the City leveling permit fees, I again echo what stalwart burnout victims advocate Gail Block has declared; that “there should be no more excuses; no obnoxious means tests; there should be relief, now!”
And by the way, a quick comment about an issue I trust does not slip by an already overburdened council: that Reva and entourage has quietly set aside $300,000 (for two years of salary plus benefits) in the City Library budget, reportedly in anticipation to award former councilmember Laura Rosenthal with a sinecure on the Library Foundation.
A review of the Library budget further found several other egregious abuses, which to their credit Mayor Wagner and Pro tem Farrer apparently axed to the tune of $1 milllion, but were covertly put back by the city manager’s office. The bollixed budget is on the council’s agenda for next Monday.
As the articulate head of an investigative task force with which I once was associated said discovering similar shenanigans, “This shit has to end!