The new curbing is finished at PCH and Trancas Canyon Road but without a right turn lane as requested by residents and promised by the developer and City Hall.

Unless you live in West Malibu, as I comment on 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites, this is really not much of a concern, such as traffic on the east PCH.

But I did think it worth noting as an indication of the fog enveloping City Hall, and how such items annoy.

Indeed, my dogs become noticeably agitated if I must wait a minute plus before making a right turn at the light at the corner, on the way to Trancas Canyon Dog Park for their daily social engagements,

However, as some residents revealed, the failure to install the turning lane is just one of a number of oversights by City Hall concerning the development of Trancas Canyon Market.

And this was a development for which there were numerous  public hearings where residents raised a host of concerns, which both the Planning Commission and City Council promised to address. And so did the developer.

Apparently holding public meetings to review a major project is one thing in Malibu, while getting the actual plans for the project stamped and approved at City Hall, another.

To be sure, the shopping center is popular, if not a little pricey; the Starbucks and the Vintage market attracting both locals and tourists, as do the mom and pop’s, such as Natii.

And the outdoor concerts have been a big success. Parking is also adequate, though access and particularly egress onto PCH difficult.

Nevertheless, according to residents who have monitored the planning, the 17 acre project is not as promised, and not as environmentally and people friendly as it could be. No words were minced.

Observed a former city planning commissioner in an e-mail that was circulated publicly, the project was bungled from the get-go, adding, perhaps “deliberately? “

She contended the net acreage was not calculated correctly, of course in favor of the developer.

In addition, the dedicated equestrian trail recorded on the parcel map was not installed, although it was to be a condition of approval. Further, the east parking lot was allowed to intrude into the riparian habitat area of the creek, and added that no historical survey was done although demanded.

Also noted was that a pedestrian path to the beach from Morning View Drive was not installed as required.

However, she added that “a strange structure,  with no permits, popped up behind the employee parking lot, blocking the view of residents on Trancas Canyon.”

The residents were further short changed by the developer failing to construct an emergency evacuation route for Malibu West, as had been promised when a parking lot blocked the original route.

She added “with various conditions incomplete or ignored and obvious violations not addressed at all, the city allowed the shopping center to open for business.”

Though issuing a public e-mail, the planning commissioner requested her name not be used, out of fear that the city might retaliate, with flash property inspections or a law suit.

Another resident added another condition of approval ignored was that the power lines supplying the shopping center across PCH were supposed to be “temporary” and buried, and are not. Several others conditions also have not been met.

And I thought City Hall was just napping when it failed to follow through on the turning lane.  It now appears it was fast asleep on many items promised the public, or frankly just duplicitous.

Is its negligence endemic? To be continued.


A pause in my usual weekly reviews and recommendations on public radio KBU and select websites of cultural endeavors from wherever, to add my voice to the chorus of congratulations for my next-door neighbor for being awarded a Nobel Prize.

Yes, I’m talking about Bob Dylan, who doesn’t live exactly next door, but around the corner a half mile or so away, and I know is at home only occasionally, being on the road and seemingly performing constantly, everywhere.

In the score of years we have lived on Point Dume here in Malibu I’ve only seen him once, in a car, which I happily report was going under the speed limit.

Actually, I met him once, 52 years ago, in 1964, when he was a rising star and recognizable, with that wild, wiry hair, the slouch, and sheepish, if not a sly grin.

He was in a coffee house where else but in Greenwich Village, at the next table being interviewed by the music critic Nat Hentoff, who was a mainstay, in a then defiantly different Village Voice

I was a reporter at the New York Times, but to the exasperation of my editor occasionally wrote books review and critical commentaries for the Voice. I also knew Nat, havin met him several times, at the paper’s infamous parties hosted by its infamous publisher, the writer Norman Mailer.   It was very much a scene back then in a gritty, restive Village, and Dylan was a part of it.

At the time he was coming under a lot of criticism by the Voice and folk song purists for playing an electric accoustical guitar at a recent concert, I believe it was in Forest Hills, where he was actually booed. I was in the crowd that said let the kid do his thing, and cheered him.

And so seeing him, a few steps away, shook his hand, and to annoyance of Nat, said something to the effect that I liked what he was doing, and thought it was time for folk music to move on. I remember he smiled that shy smile, and murmured what I heard as a thanks.

He is the only Nobel prizewinner I ever met.

But not bearing witness to this, the only other Malibu story I eve r heard was from my late neighbor and friend, Al WInnikoff. He claimed to be Dylan’s realtor, and said he used drive him around looking at properties.

Al also fancied himself a singer, songwriter, and guitar player, and said on several times he got to perform for Dylan. Having tolerated Al’s indulgence, I can only shudder to think what Dylan experienced.    10.14.16









Every time I make a right turn from PCH to Trancas Canyon Road –and that is several times a week-– I am reminded how our city government disappoints.

Whether the powers-that-be are asleep at the wheel when it actually comes to enforcing agreements with private interests, or whether the city staff is just not motivated, whatever, the fact is the city’s persevering residents are not particularly well served.

And that is especially if they also are not well connected or deep pocketed, and live in West Malibu, as I comment in my latest city observed on 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites.

The failure of a right turn lane not being included in the curbing project now being completed at the northeast corner of PCH and Trancas is not a big item. Actually it is piddling in the public infrastructure realm of billion dollar traffic and transportation budgets.

But it is nevertheless a case in point of how local government – that’s the council and staff –just doesn’t seem to be functioning well these dog days of democracy. They fumbled the right turn issue several times, before simply dropping the ball.

Lot of fingers are being pointed in the social media and where West Malibu denizens meet whom might be to blame for this failure: the haughty owner of the market, the conflicted City Council, a remote Cal Trans, or a somnolent city staff.

To be sure, all are in part guilty to some extent. But mostly I blame a compliant city council and staff that always seems ready to tell you why something can’t be done, rather than how to do it, and indeed get it done.

At City Hall hearing after hearing over the years, whenever planning and development affecting West Malibu was discussed, inevitably the need for a right turn lane off of PCH was raised.

It was never, ever an issue. Everyone concerned apparently agreed, the area’s residents, the shopping center developers, the city’s public safety and planning commissions, the city council, and, of course, city staff.

Also giving a nod to the turning lane was various traffic consultants, PCH study groups, and the condescending Cal Trans. The right turn lane was no brainer: facilitate traffic at a busy corner, and make PCH a little safer.

However, when the plans for a new and improved 17 acre Vintage Market shopping center were approved by the City Council several years ago, the turning lane was not made a condition. The city dropped the ball, only to have it handed back several times by a concerned resident, but dropped it again.

Even when the item was brought back before the City Council, and the developer’s lawyer publicly agreed to the condition, the city did not follow through.

The city said it was Caltrans responsibility, Caltrans said it was the developer’s, the developer said it was the city’s, while alternatives have flown back and forth: move the curb, move the traffic signal, move PCH.

But no one wanted to move his or her ass, and so the construction being completed at the corner now does not include a turning lane.

With any gumption, the council and staff in concert could have taken the initiative, talk as they incessantly do about making PCH safer. But instead, they seemingly, blithely, went out to lunch.

And then at tables in the city’s favored eateries , they no doubt are wondering what the electorate seem so angry about, are our jobs in jeopardy, our pensions?






As heralded here last week and reviewed this week  of OCTOBER 8. 2016,  in my arts commentary on KBU and radiomalibu,net, an exhibit featuring the photography of Fred Ward has opened at City Hall with a celebration of his prolific life.

The exhibit lends a welcomed dual use to the muted municipal building at the end of Stuart Ranch Road, organized by the city’s Cultural Arts Commission and the Ward family. He died at his home in Malibu this summer at the age of 81.

On display is an arresting selection of photographs culled from Ward’s career freelancing for the leading newsweeklies and preeminent magazines of a half-century ago, when print ruled the media, before the age of tedious television and the blathering Internet.

It was also a time of a magnanimous media for top tier writers and photographers, as Ward obviously was, a life of front row seats, exotic assignments, living wages, and generous expense accounts, making the exhibit particularly nostalgic for this former correspondent.

The assignments for Time, Life, Newsweek and the National Geographic took Ward everywhere around the world, evidenced by the exhibit’s display of the diversity of places and people he captured in composed and revealing photographs.

His was an art, be it capturing the obscure, such as the photos of a Maasai warrior in Kenya, or a little girl with a wig in Guadeloupe Or the famous, presidents Kennedy and Ford, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Fidel Castro and the Dalai Lama, among the many.

And then there are also his exquisite photographs of gems, among them, the Hope Diamond, and crown jewels of Iran, hinting at his fascination with these earth treasures that he documented in several books, and led him in later life to be a gem dealer and gemologist. ,

Ward’s life was indeed fascinating, and well documented by tens of thousands of prints, which his son, Chris, culled with obvious love to about a hundred for the exhibit. Happily the display will be revolving, and several hundred other favored print s also will be shown during the exhibit, which runs until mid January.

It certainly will be an excuse for me to visit several times

Also on display in the Civic Center will be a special art exhibit this Saturday, from 3 to 7, at the Canvas Boutique and Gallery.  Organized by the gallery and the Los Angeles-based First Responders, it will benefit the International Medical Corp., and feature the works of local artists, including one of my favorites, the sculptor Eugenie Spirito. Check it out, at 23410 Center Way,



Malibu’s City Hall happily will be the site for yet another exhibit featuring the work of a local artist, the photographer Fred Ward. The exhibit opens Saturday, and promises to be haunting, as I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU.

Though Ward was first and foremost a deadline driven news photographer, he was in my estimation an artist; his work having risen to the level of iconic images, evocative of a time and place. He passed away at his home in Malibu, in July, at the age of 81.

For some of us the exhibit will be a trip back in time to the turbulent 1960s, for which we can thank the Malibu Cultural Arts Commission in a its continual laudable attempt to tap into the city’s scattered artistic history and celebrate its artists.

Fred Ward was a photographer for Life, Time and Newsweek magazines, back in our fleeting history when weeklies were the crown jewels of print journalism.   And the most glistening, polished by a circulation that at one time topped 13.5 million copies, was Life.

So to be a photographer for the photo featured and promoted Life was to be a journalistic super star. The notable writers there that included during that time Joan Didion and Jane Howard were admittedly envious.

Indeed, all newspersons that toiled in the trenches of print at that time were envious, including those at the august New York Times, where I worked as a young reporter. Pay was said to be good at the newsweeklies, expenses better, and deadlines were only once a week.

And when journalists gathered then at select midtown watering holes to celebrate their publications being put to bed, getting a photo on the cover of Life was the equivalent to getting an Academy Award.

Ward had several, most notably in 1963 of a grief stricken, Jacqueline Kennedy with her two children before the casket of the assassinated President Kennedy. It was this photo that Andy Warhol turned into his famous print.

And in was Ward who a few days earlier had captured the image of the first lady returning to Washington with her husband’s blood on her legs.

These and other select photos of Ward when on assignment for the news weeklies and later the celebrated National Geographic are included in the retrospective. Also featured is a short video on Ward’s very full professional life, produced his son, Chris. The exhibit runs until January 13 of next year.




The election campaign in Malibu for City Council became a little more interesting this week as the six candidates finally came under more personal and pointed questioning.

The emphasis here is on finally, for most of the forum until the last few minutes, was, frankly, not revealing. if the critical Giant Dodger game wasn’t blacked out for most, I doubt if the hometown drama at City Hall would have attracted a nearly packed house.

The questions were convoluted, diffidently delivered, aggravated by a fumbled sound system, that unfortunately, I feel, prompted predictable answers, and echoed a previous forum at City Hall awkwardly orchestrated by the Malibu Democratic Club.

In full disclosure as a registered Democrat, the less I comment about that evening that ended in a bungled ballot for a questionable endorsement, the better.

The latest forum was conducted by the Malibu Times, and featured its venerable editor Arnold York in uncomfortable command. He is a print journalist, not a broadcast journalist, and not at ease with direct questions and extracting clear answers. .

To be sure, the grilling came at the end of a long, and mostly mundane forum with the candidtes perching on the stage in the council chamber’s, as they all hope to do as elected members in a few months.

After throwing various softballs at the forum, York delivered a hard ball to Skylar Peak, citing his poor attendance record and his position on encroachments on Pt. Dume that had led to a wellspring of protests and an embarrassing reversal for the City Council.

Peak looking nonplussed replied he only missed a fraction of the meetings, albeit attendance at some were by phone. Modest applause

As for the charge Peak proposed the encroachments, he stated it was not he that did but a traffic consultant, and whatever he eventually voted against them. Silence.

Jennifer DeNicola was questioned if her relatively recent community advocacy, in particular battling the school district on PCBs, and now presumptuously running for the council, was just a bare political maneuver for a high political appointment or office. She stumbled through an answer, proclaiming her sincerity and love for her adopted home of Malibu. Scant applause.

York then turned to, or should I say turned on, Laureen Sills, asking if she as a councilperson would just be a complaint sidekick to her good friend, Laura Rosenthal. Sills replied with steely conviction that in her 30 years as an active, concerned resident she had many friends, many at times she disagreed with, and while listening and respecting all, would be fiercely independent. Strong applause

As for being independent, York asked Zuma Jay, given his resume as a former mayor and popularity, why he was running on a slate. with lesser lights Ouch. He replied because he generally agreed with Peak and Rick Mullen, though at time they will no doubt disagree. Scattered applause

Rick Mullen was questioned about his lack of credentials, citing in reply a thick resume that includes a long active residency that includes being a local fire chief and parent. Polite applause.

Carl Randall also was chided for his lack of identity. He, too, in reply cited his positions in the parks and school’s communities, And then there also was his family’s involvement, in particular his mother, Carol, who is well connected at City Hall. Strong but limited applause from the family.

However provocative, it is to York’s credit that these are the questions Malibu residents are asking. To the voter, the six appear to be in agreement on most issues, so it is frankly the hearsay the most likely swing the election.





The bloated local ballot in Malibu needs some attention, that is if we can possibly tune out the inanities emanating from the national elections, where the gut issues of the day are being drowned out in the nit picking of a trumped up Trump, and a harassed Hillary,

For the first time they are being held the first Tuesday in November, concurrently with the national and state ballots, in hopes a decent turnout, as I comment in The Local, on 97.5 KBU. FM and select websites.

Ever since the city of Malibu was founded 25 years ago the local elections had been held in the Spring, with the results there has been a depressing decrease in voters.

Generally the turnout over the years has registered about 25 percent lower that state and national elections.

The reasons have been many: The time of year, which occasionally conflicted with Spring break for schools and families going on vacation; and no gut-wrenching issues threatening residents, such as the closure of PCH, or a blatant municipal scandal.

In addition, a self satisfied, comfortable public seemed frankly content with the status quo, whether just an illusion, the lack of municipal transparency or an undiscerning local media. Whatever.

To be sure, there was a quiet complaint that the low turnout feed a favored a select clique of residents who dealt in personal favors. But this was put down as scattered whining .

That is, until recently, what with traffic on PCH becoming increasing intolerable; the civic center being stripped of local serving business for high end shops; the public schools being neglected by a distant school district, and a languid City Council, except when it came to self aggrandizing.

But even it could not ignore the low turnouts and the heightened concerns, and subsequently approved moving the elections from the Spring to the Fall, to coincide with State and National elections. No doubt a factor was that the move gave incumbents an extra 9 months in office.

The question now is whether it will actually improve the local vote. That will require voters to wade through the top of a long ticket, plus some 17 propositions,  before having to ponder the local elections, and the six candidates vying for the 3 council seats.

For some indication of that task coming soon in the mail to every registered voter is a 224 page Voter Guide, said to be the most voluminous election guide in California history.

Voters are just going to have to be more alert than ever, listen harder, and think more about what the candidates, are saying and doing. That especially applies to our local candidates judging from the recently launched election campaigns.

All six presented themselves to a crowd of about 100 elbowed into the community room in City Hall at a recent forum sponsored by the local Democratic Club.

Most of the statements of the smiling candidates tended to be indistinguishable, all pledging their commitment to uphold the city’s mission statement to avoid suburbanization and commercialization, try to somehow to better handle traffic on the PCH, and to encourage a transparent and responsive City Hall.

The most excitement came after, when the club voted to see whom it will endorse. It was chaotic, raising questions concerning the eligibility of some who voted and whether the balloting was handled correctly, and should the vote be nullified. It is a mud pile that whomever emerges no doubt will be sullied.

One hopes the official balloting in November will go more smoothly.






The legal hostilities over what to do about the PCBs on the Malibu High campus hopefully are over, now that a federal court in effect slapped the hands of all involved.

This includes the litigating parents and the school board, with an extra kick in the pants to the District to clean up the toxics on the Malibu High campus.

It was not a victory as all have claimed, certainly not for the reputations of the district and high school, nor, for that matter, Malibu’s, as a congenial community with safe public education facilities, as I comment on 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites everywhere.

Of course doing well, were the lawyers and consultants hired by the School District who opposed the parents, who originally gathered under the banner of Malibu Unites and now America Unites for Kids.

Sadly, I feel all could have been resolved from the outset years ago, when parents became rightfully concerned by reports that several teachers in classrooms with window caulked in material containing PCB had been diagnosed with cancer.

Not helping was a defensive School Board and a muddled District bureaucracy that never had been particularly sympathetic to Malibu’s concerns: spurning transparency they instead circled the wagons, and brought in the lawyers.

The District was never clear if all the PCBs would be removed, prompting the parents to become more concerned, and the District more guarded.

It became even more recalcitrant by the entry into the fray of a Washington DC whistleblower support group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

This happening in high profile Malibu involving a skittish school bureaucracy and a vainglorious parents group was like throwing in a raw piece of meat into the cage of the DC group. The cancer card was played up.

Though PCBs have been linked to cancer, whether there was or is a cancer cluster on the Malibu campus has not been proven. Many people have cancer for as many reasons, and identifying clusters is reported difficult, and unlikely to be caused by a single environmental factor or exposure.

 Meanwhile, the District pursued a clean up program on the Malibu campus, following the so-called best management practices prescribed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

This nevertheless was questioned by the involved parents. Hence the lawsuit.

Enter the City Council, which with any leadership might have calmed the situation. But instead to curry favor, it awarded a token of public funds to the protesting parent group, in effect compromising the city’s efforts to divorce itself from the District. The city’s school advocates were chagrined,

But putting the cacophonic conflict in perspective, I feel there was oddly a winner: Malibu’s valiant efforts led by AMPS to diverse itself from the Santa Monica dominated school board.

And this in my opinion is big, and rises above the fray.

Say what you may about the parent group’s persistence and public rants, it did unquestionably light a fire under the negotiations between Santa Monica and Malibu, and appears to have prompted a settlement.

Hopefully in time what ill feelings might have been generated by the fracas will be mitigated, as will the PCBs; the schools repaired, and eventually, so will be Malibu’s reputation.





The opening of a reconstructed California Incline is a cause for celebration. Or perhaps not, as I ask in my City Observed commentary for KBU, radioimalibu.net and select websites.

To be sure, the landmark connecting downtown Santa Monica with the PCH, has been redesigned to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, and most importantly seismically upgraded.

And as before the 17 month reconstruction, the bridge edging the Palisades Park cliffs offers great views of the sprawling shoreline curving westward to the Malibu ocean front silhouette.

Nice, if you are a tourist framing a selfie, and perhaps recalling scenes from the movie “Its a Mad, Mad, World.” or “Knocked Up.” And the view of the sunsets from the Incline is in a word, spectacular.

The storied sandy beach beckons, and so does the diversions of the Santa Monica pier.

But it is not so nice if you are one of the 80,000 commuters who drive the PCH daily; it being a long. long traffic light at the Incline, and particularly frustrating for the estimated 15,000 who actually traverse the Incline between the PCH and Santa Monica.

The crush of increasing traffic on PCH is bad enough, what with rush hour now expanding to most hours of the work week, and the weekends near impossible with the rising waves of beachgoers.

But worse is downtown Santa Monica., whether just driving through it and having to negotiate the stop and go traffic and the pedestrians seemingly impervious to cross walk cautions.

Add to this the bumptious bicyclists, with the result traffic becomes a frustrating crawl, block after block, and maddening if you are looking for a parking space.

What is happening is that area residents, and that includes those living in Malibu, as well as the Pacific Palisades and also Santa Monica itself, are simply avoiding downtown.

They’re seemingly are abandoning it to the tourists and the L.A, at large crowed, reminding one of the old faded Westwood weekend scenes 40 years ago, only worse.

To be sure, on the surface Santa Monica is booming: restaurants are full, retail sales are up, and rents and property prices at record highs. All of this is filling the city ‘s coffers, fattening the already bloated local bureaucracy and making the bean counters happy. Or so it seems.

It certainly has Santa Monica’s voluble city manager Rick Cole, concerned, who stated in his blog that city traffic officials have “never seen this number of people and volume of traffic” in Santa Monica before.

He noted that crowds were getting bigger and visitors are staying later, and declared the city has “finally hit the tipping point, with many local residents are saying, ‘Nobody goes Downtown anymore, it’s too crowded.'”

To ease the situation, Cole did announce several mitigating measures, including promoting more walking, biking and public transit, facilitating the traffic flow, and adding more fringe parking. They might help.

Meanwhile, I’m glad the incline has been made safe.

But frankly I don’t expect the traffic situation to improve in downtown Santa Monica or on the PCH, and that more and more Malibu residents will be avoiding the Incline and Santa Monica, as well, preferring going over the hill to Agoura and Westlake to shop, eat, go to a movie, whatever.

There are certainly lessons in this for sanctimonious Santa Monica, and misanthropic Malibu too.






Still needing more comment is the recent candidate and city leadership workshop at Malibu’s City Hall. which I had presumptuously labeled a gabfest. It actually was more.

The event was sponsored by the Malibu Times as a non-partisan presentation of what one needs to know to run for office in Malibu, or at least to be involved. It also exposed a few municipal conceits, as I note in my City Observed commentary for public radio KBUU and select websites.

As I had commented previously, the gabfest began with a session focusing on the workings of the City, delivered with a modicum of megalomania and a pinch of paranoia.

Displaying a touch of the megalomania was recently anointed mayor Lou La Monte, and seemingly enjoying it.

The paranoia was expressed by skittish city manager Reva Feldman, persevering city attorney Christi Hogin, and planning apparatchik Bonnie Blue. The gist of their remarks is that Malibu is a preferred city manager form of government, ostensibly relying on professionals, in short themselves.

This conceit had been adopted across California in the last century to avoid local government being infested by political appointees. However, some feel that over time it has replaced political corruption with bureaucratic corruption, at the whim of local office holders.

The afternoon session was to be a discussion of specific issues, not a forum for airing grievances, or candidate grandstanding. This would make a rare Malibu event.

Despite being weighted with pro development panelists, the session did get off to a coherent start with school board member Craig Foster giving an optimistic update on Malibu’s efforts to divorce itself from the Santa Monica dominated School District.

He noted that the issue of finances was methodically being resolved, as is the safety and upgrading of school facilities. And this despite the persistent criticism of a self-promoting parents group and the unfortunate over reaction of the district. That brew over the presence of PCBs and what to do about them has been politically toxic.

Then it was on to the rising resident concern of over development, with realtor Paul Grisanti stating how it was undermining the pressing need to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure.

Echoing that concern was lobbyist Don Schmidt, who went on a length to comment on the imperative of development, adding that the city was going to have to let property owners build or it would have to spend big bucks buying them out. More tempered was former conservative mayor and now planning commissioner Jeff Jennings.

Long time resident Barbara Cameron also was on the panel, but being on the city payroll she wisely kept mostly quiet. Not so the iconoclastic John Mazza, who reportedly elbowed his way onto the panel, as he is wont to do, and argued convincingly that Malibu already was overbuilt and PCH just cannot handle more traffic.

And so it went, with mostly Schmidt and Mazza trading observations, making me feel that I was sitting cramped between the two in a car on gridlocked PCH.  8.24.16