Point Dume Residents Grill City Council Candidates
• Look at View Protection Action, Ban on Overnight Camping and Municipal Finances
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
Attendees at last week’s Point Dume Community Association candidates forum were fewer in number than previous years, but that could be because dues paying members have fallen off nearly by half from last year, according to board members.
There are 900 families on the Point. Last year there were 112 dues paying members, with the number down to 63 so far this year.
The first question of the night was about the proposed view preservation ordinance. The question was specific. What are the three most important points of the proposed view protection ordinance?
Gillespie said he would go along with the majority view of the task force that looked into the matter. He said the important points are when the view is established which should be when the house was purchased. The privacy issue is important and who pays for cutting down the trees blocking the views, he added.
Greene, who was a member of the task force, said he had helped write much of the proposed ordinance and had gotten started when he was hired by the Malibu Country Estates homeowners association to help create a pilot for possible citywide implementation.
Lou La Monte, who had been a minority member of the task force, said, “I’m completely in favor of a view ordinance. The reason I was not in favor of the [proposed] view ordinance is because of what was in it.”
John Mazza said the issue was a matter of when nearly two-thirds of the people voted on an advisory measure. “The majority [task force] said you could restore the views. We did not have to have a minority report. The minority said the view starts when the law goes into effect,” he said. Mazza charged the minority [task force] was trying to kill the measure. “They didn’t want it,” he said.
Laura Rosenthal said she was in favor of restoration. She said the start time for the ordinance should be when the house was purchased. “I lost my view. I want to get my ocean view back,” she added. “The reason we became a city is to encourage neighbors to negotiate.” The three important points she said is to restore and preserve views. Determine when the time of restoration starts, when you buy the house, and the need to balance privacy rights she said.
Steve Scheinkman said he thought view protection should start at the time the house was last purchased. He said he did not understand about a potential provision sought by some to have the costs added for the value of the trees.
Sidley said the three most important points of the view ordinance is if the law is constitutional. “The task force came up with an ordinance that will pass muster if it is affordable, reasonable and well thought out,” he said, “It is the cornerstone of my campaign. A good law should be enacted,” he added.
Matthew Katz said, “As long as you pay taxes, you should be able to do whatever you want on your property. Just be neighborly. I did that. Those eucalyptus. They are no good. Cut them down.”
Point Dume folks also wanted to know how the issuance of Certificates of Participation would impact the city or how such “debt” would impact the city.
Mazza said it is something to be considered. “All debt after all is debt. We went from no debt to debt. The debt will affect our credit rating. We need to plan,” he said.
“I have a different sense of it,” said Rosenthal. “I am glad we bought the city hall building. We are paying $800,000 per year for rent [on current city hall] In 30 years we will own it. We have a triple A rating. The city is in great shape,” she said.
Scheinkman said the city is in good financial shape at the moment, but is concerned about the long term. “We need a long-term plan,” he said, adding the debt expense on the new city hall will go up $1 million and city officials have to find a way for the residents not just 65 staff members to enjoy use of the new city hall building.
Sidley said, “I am very concerned about the $45 million of debt. He said developers of the Lumber Yard asked for a $1.5 million deferral in rent. “What if they want to defer the base rent?” he asked.
Gillespie said, “These are debts. Taken on without a voter mandate. The COPs are based on leases. I don’t know. We need to put $3 million into Trancas Park. We need to step back and look at our fiscal situation,” he added.
La Monte said none of the taxpayers are paying for the purchase of the Chili Cook off site or the new city hall and Malibu needs a city-owned city hall. “The rent is getting paid. Do we want to be a 20 year old and still live-in with mother? City Hall, we will own it. I am proud to have our new city hall,” he said.
Greene said what folks were hearing was not completely fact-driven and some of the rhetoric was based on getting an emotional reaction. “Our Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky praised our Triple A rating,” he added.
Katz said the Lumber Yard deal is a terrible deal and so is the city hall purchase. “We should sell it and move city hall to the Lumber Yard,” he said.
Council hopefuls were also asked their views on the overnight camping issue proposed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Sidley said, “I would not put camping thee. But it is not my decision.the own the property. I think they have the rights on their property. Make sure there are no campfires.”
Scheinkman said he has been a camper and has climbed the 44 mountains in New York. There is no way anybody can enforce a law [outlawing campfires]. I opposed this from day one. I’m not a lawyer, but I encouraged the city to file a lawsuit. With public safety there is no compromise,” he added.
Rosenthal said she had grave concerns. “Campfires are synonymous with camping,” she said, adding, “We need a new partnership for these outside agencies,” he said, suggesting that maybe matching funds could be put together to pay for rangers
Mazza said it is a public safety issue. “We should not allow it. We can win, if we get organized,” he said. “I don’t know how we are going to do it. If camping is allowed there will be a fire.”
La Monte noted that camping in residential neighborhoods do not mix. “It is a very bad idea,” he said, adding the Conservancy has managed to disturb almost every community in Malibu.
Katz said the state won’t spend money on rangers. He suggested the city charge park fees so exorbitant to be unaffordable. “Let’s price them out of here. If they call us elitists, maybe we should behave that way,” he noted.
Greene said the philosophy forced upon Malibu is “Public use trumps private rights.” Greene went on to say, “We need to deal with Joe Edmiston to make a compromise.” He said camping would be safer at Bluffs Park and there is more space.
Gillespie said, “It is sad. Malibu has no power. They can force this issue on us. How can we address it?” Gillespie said he is meeting with former Governor Gray Davis on such issues. “He tells me he has close ties with Joe,” he added.
The candidates were also asked about the difficulty of Malibuites getting elected to the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District board.
Some candidates said it is a matter of getting Malibuites to run for office. None did this past election. Others said even so, it points to an uneven playing field.
Council hopefuls were also questioned about.
Another question was about what the candidates would do differently to attract resident-serving businesses to the area. Some said set up special districts or offer tax abatements, others suggested the city owns commercial property and could rent it out to local businesses.
Council hopefuls were also quizzed about the proposed reserves planned along the coastline and if they supported the inclusion of Point Dume as it is mapped. Most supported the mapping, one candidate knew nothing about the issue, others expressed doubtfulness about the fairness of the process.