MALIBU COUNCIL ELECTION GETS PERSONAL, FINALLY

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 LOOMING LOCAL ELECTIONS

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.

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TIME TO CELEBRATE IN MALIBU? NOT YET, BUT…

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.

9.10.16

 

 

CALIFORNIA INCLINE BETTER; SANTA MONICA TRAFFIC WORSE

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.

9.3.16

 

 

MALIBU CITY HALL CONCEIT, CONTINUED

 

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

MALIBU CITY HALL GABFEST

If anyone wanted to glimpse the conceit of small town government and get a discordant earful of local issues, a good seat would have been at the candidate and city leadership workshop last Friday at Malibu’s City Hall.

The workshop was hosted by the Malibu Times as a non partisan presentation of what one needs to know to run for office in Malibu, or at least be a conscientious citizen. Attending were a gaggle of candidates, lobbyists, city hall junkies and my ever curious self, for Malibu’s KBUU and select websites.

The gathering attracting an estimated 40 or so persons was heralded by Times editor Arnold York as a public service, though a few ruefully noted that the newspaper no doubt will make a pretty profit from the political advertising sold in the next two months until elections. Not seen was anyone from the sadly withering Surfside News.

Actually, it was less a workshop than a gabfest, with the morning session focusing on the workings of city hall, its organization and management, and financing and budget, delivered with a modicum of megalomania and a pinch of paranoia.

Featured were neophyte city manager Reva Feldman, and persevering city attorney Christi Hogin, always ready to tell why the city can’t do something, except if certain interests want it to, and the city can afford the additional legal fees. She did not disappoint with her convoluted comments.

Nor did Bonnie Blue, officially the city’s planning director, but in reality its top zoning apparatchik; real planning in Malibu I feel having been left to developers and accommodating consultants.

Stirring comment at the session was the reminder that Malibu with its 15,000 or so residents was not a rural sea coast village, as it likes to be described, but with 15 million annual visitors, it is in effect a tourist town.

Those 15 million and rising, about equal to Disneyland’s annual attendance, is what actually drives the city’s pricey development; and that the increase in traffic on the PCH, which is not really from people wanting to go shopping in Malibu, but rather primarily to go to the beaches and parks.

Also revealing was the remark by genial mayor Lou La Monte, that all anyone needed to know about how the city works was in a thick packet council members receive from staff detailing upcoming agenda items.

Too bad it’s all buried in bureaucratic babble, making it maybe legal but difficult to dredge and understand. If the city is sincere about wanting citizen involvement, this information needs to be transparent, and somehow summarized and prioritized for the public.

That would be a real service by City Hall rather than grinding out as it now does reams self aggrandizing press releases.

More easily consumed was the free lunch, the cost of which apparently met in part by the donations of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, whose conservative politics I thought are not particularly sympathetic to free anything for those in need.

Lending some humor to the proceedings at lunch was the remarks of a political campaign consultant, playing to four of the six city council candidates vying for office who attended. Trying to stay non partisan, no names will be mentioned here, but you can guess.

.The afternoon was a lively panel on the issues, which I will review in future commentaries.

 

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POINT DUME RESIDENTS PREVAIL

Malibu needs to move on from the latest local government debacle, specifically the resolution to compel property owners to remove landscape encroachments from the municipal right of way edging roadways.

Not to belabor the issue, but I feel it is important to get the facts right and dampen the emotions that are still swirling in the aftermath in which reason argued by concerned residents prevailed over a too often ill informed City Hall.

As I comment on public radio KBU, radiomalibu.net and other select websites. the victory needs closure: the council thanked for its decision to rescind the resolution, and the residents for their persistence not to see the resolution simply suspended, but buried.

A big also is for the city to stop the nitpicking enforcement on homeowners and selective streets. Oversight will be needed, be it a Point task force or some sort of consortium of the concerned.

Let’s hope some lessons have been learned; that, as our founders commented, vigilance indeed is the price of democracy; that civil servants need to be civil, and city council must be transparent. And all, more courteous.

Already under fire for being too friendly to developers and special interests, the Council did not make their admittedly tough jobs any easier by stumbling over what could have been a reasonable plan for the Point, generating some validation in its waning days in office.

To those just tuning in, the ill-considered resolution was a questionable tailpiece on to what I have described as a traffic mismanagement plan. The plan had called for a grab bag of remedies that included lowering speed limits –good – and a smattering of questionable speed humps –all presumably to calm traffic.

Then there was the resolution requiring the clearing of the rights of way, which would in effect widen streets and among other things encourage speeding, and also attract more cars cruising for parking. So much for calming traffic.

We ‘re talking here of all landscaping, fences, walls and mailboxes, at resident expense, and not incidentally the selective removal of no parking signs. So long rural Point Dume and property values, hello suburbia.

No street site plans were offered, no priorities and timing, no city costs, let alone the cost to property owners, and no cost benefit analysis. What a pig-in-the poke; what an annuity for city staff and contractors.

You have to ask, what were they thinking at City Hall: a peace offering to the Coastal Commission, a stick-in-the eye to Council critics, or just flaunting their powers?

I am reminded of a recent comment made by the venerable Walt Keller, Malibu’s first mayor, that some times unfortunate things happen to well meaning people once elected to office.

 

POLITICS ARE INDEED LOCAL AND LOUD IN MALIBU

For me, for now, all politics is local. My latest commentary from my roost in misanthropic Malibu:

So what really happened at City Council Monday night:

After a parade of Point Dume residents implored the City Council to rescind a poorly conceived and ill considered resolution to compel property owners remove landscape encroachments from the municipal right of way, it was councilperson Laura Rosenthal stating that it was time for the city to step back.

It had been Rosenthal as the past Mayor that originally strongly advocated and lobbied for the resolution, and had been intractable in face of mounting opposition.

Downcast and in subdued voice, she then provided the swing vote approving a motion by a stalwart Mayor pro tem Skylar Peak to rescind the council’s recommended original action to suspend the resolution, pending a questionable traffic management survey

Residents had feared the resolution was part of a city plan to use the right of ways for possible sidewalks, and do away with selective no parking signs, to please the Coastal Commission and perhaps win future concessions for questionable development.

Presumably also being deep sixed as urged by the residents was the flawed traffic management survey that many felt was rigged to support the city’s continued compromising the encroachments.
The vote to rescind was 4 to 1, with the motion being seconded by Councilman John Sibert, who indicated he never really liked the resolutions and had originally cautioned the council, even though he voted for it.

Also approving the motion was a rueful Mayor Lou La Monte, though he took exception to what he described as the persistent off putting lobbying by a loose consortium of residents opposed to the resolution.

Nevertheless, it was the campaign by the residents informally organized by an impassioned Don Richstone that apparently swayed the Council, as speaker after speaker criticized the resolution as poorly researched and arbitrarily approved.

The Council was particularly castigated for being less than transparent in its deliberations, apparently in deference to an omnipotent Coastal Commission who it feared would take strong exception to the loss of public parking on the Point.

The Council was further reminded that the resolution was in clear violation of the city’s Land Use Policy, 2.4.6. that states “the city shall avoid improvements which create a suburban atmosphere such as sidewalks and street lights.”

The lone vote against rescinding it was cast by a contrite and confused Joan House, for a wrath of contradictory reasons she attributed to select constituents whom she did not identify. She was booed for her remarks.

RECALCITRANT MALIBU PIDDLES RATHER THAN PLANS

If anyone needed a sad paradigm of how not to pursue a purported street improvement plan, look no further than at the City of Malibu, which recently approved and is now reconsidering a resolution to compel property owners remove landscape encroachments, less mature trees, from the municipal right of way edging roadways.


Limited to the web of streets composing Point Dume and its comfortable village clutter of 700 or so homes, ranging from modest to mac mansions, the resolution appeared as an arbitrary add on, if not an after thought, to a traffic management plan that had not been presented clearly by the City and had not been reviewed in any detail by concerned residents.

I revealed this latest Malibu City crotchet in a recent commentary on 97.5 KBU and everywhere on radiomalibu.net and select websites. A more detailed and damning copy including editor’s note’s citing Council contradictions appear in this week’s Local, under the headline “Point Doomed.”

Traffic is very much a concern of residents on the Point, which increasingly is being inundated by beach goers bound for the adjacent Zuma, but wanting to avoid the $14 a day parking fee there, so they scour the Point for a free spot on a convenient residential street. Add to this the crush of surfers parking to descend on Little and Big Point Dume. Then there is the annoyance of the trash they leave behind for the residents to clean. Speeding on the Point also is a problem, by the beachgoers and resident themselves, which was addressed in the plan by lowering speed limits and installing questionable speed humps.

But it was the resolution to remove the landscape encroachments, including mailboxes and fences, to accommodate a possible increase in parking and a sidewalk, that has generated the protests and demands for a retraction.

That the City has not come up with specifics as to the parking and/or sidewalks has particularly annoyed residents. Said one, the City doesn’t plan, it piddles, with an alarming ignorance of the latest professional standards (widening streets encourages speeding) and the disregard for the effect on the neighborhood (compromising the Point’s rural ambience) .

As a result, the protests have been increasingly strident, flamed by a televised segment of a flummoxed council discussing the issue in which the mayor questioned the placement of the grandfathered no parking signs on select streets, and looked forward to having them removed. And this despite the signs having been hard fought by the residents in a past legal battle with the Coastal Commission, prompting one venerable Point resident to comment that pulling them up would be the equivalent of pulling a pin out of a grenade.

The issue might seem parochial, but it is resonating loudly across Malibu, where in referendums and countless community meetings residents have been challenging the City over several questionable planning and development initiatives. Inherent in the complaints is that the City Council is not listening to the residents, but rather to a small circle of friends and special interests.

The Council, of course, has denied this at its last meeting that was packed by Point residents protesting the encroachment resolution. Mayor Laura Rosenthal pointedly stated she had heard the concerns, and declared that the City was not going to implement it, if at all, until after the community was surveyed, and more meetings held.

There was no admission that the council or the city staff had acted precipitously. Indeed, to the chagrin of some city activists, Mayor Pro Tem Lou La Monte repeated the defense that the council had acted in clear response to resident requests at past community meetings, however sparsely and vacantly expressed, and not vetted.

The City also keeps referring to the clearance of right-of-way encroachments on Busch drive for a sidewalk as a success, while many residents there contend was costly, is incomplete and not very successful.

To be sure, this is a prideful if imperious council that never seems to tire of self aggrandizement. This has made the flare up over the encroachment issue particularly embarrassing to it and a lockstep staff, but an arrow in the quiver of those looking forwards to the City elections in the Fall.

HOT WEATHER AND POLITICS RILE POINT DUME

It look as like it is going to be a long sweltering summer, making the beaches in Malibu more popular than ever. And for Point Dume that means an invasion of visitors on the prowl for free parking spaces, prompting growls from us residents who pick up their trash.

This may be a parochial issue, but it does spot light the increasing conflict of planning and politics in our burgeoning and beset communities, and the imperative of a more informed citizenry and city government, as I comment this week on 97.5 KBU and everywhere on radiomalibu.net and select websites.

As hot as the weather is, so are the protests for what many of us residents consider an ill considered proposal recently approved by the City Council to compel property owners to remove landscape encroachments, less mature trees, from the municipal right of way edging roadways.

The proposal was an item in a city traffic calming plan that included the lowering of speed limits and the questionable installation of speed humps. The encroachment issue came as an extra to many who feel if pursued would compromise the rural ambience of the Point, to say nothing of the personal expense to property owners.

And this despite numerous studies having found removing landscaping from roadways has the opposite effect, and actually promotes speeding, and increases accident.

Though it is not clear why the City at present has raised the fractious proposal, whether, as the city manager has said, to accommodate sidewalks or, as the Mayor has indicated, that more parking was needed to placate the Coastal Commission.

As for the sidewalks, the results of their placement on a few Point streets has been definitely mixed, with people especially in a group and with dogs, preferring to walk in the roadways.

This is not necessarily bad, for it does have the effect of slowing traffic, and indeed is considered very much a traffic calming tool, in Europe. There the concept is labeled “woonerf,” after being initiated in the Netherlands, and designates select streets to be shared spaces used equally for cars, bikes and pedestrians – just as it works informally on beach streets here in Malibu and other coastal villages.

To be sure, each street is treated differently, with roadway dots and signage, necking portions, and where feasible encouraging landscaping to lend the neighborhood character

Whatever, the issue of landscape removal has generated much heat, flamed by the mayor’s comment caught on the city’s own television channel declaring the Point’s grandfathered no parking street signs should be pulled. This prompted one resident to comment that politically the remark was the equivalent to pulling the pin out of a grenade.

And echoing in the debate — thank you city planning commissioner John Mazza – is our General Plan’s Land Use Policy 2 point 4 point 6, “ The City shall avoid improvements which create a suburban atmosphere such as sidewalks and street lights”, with the section specific to Pt Dume.

And as embarrassing as it is for City Hall and its entourage, debate over the traffic plan is going to continue, a harbinger no doubt for other neighborhoods in Malibu and beyond. There is nothing like an issue outside one’s own front door to stir emotions.