• 2012: First Malibu Musings •
BY ANNE SOBLE
While we're taking note of the things we would like to accomplish in the New Year, we should look around the community. Although it seems that many of us already have more to do than we can hope to complete, prioritization may make room for local involvement.
It's easy to speak in platitudes during the holiday season, but local concerns require a year-round commitment of more than words. Whether the issues are the environment, development, wildfire danger, traffic safety, public education, or any of myriad concerns that impact life in Malibu, people have to stand up and be counted.
Municipal meetings may start becoming livelier when city council candidates show up everywhere there is a possibility of being quoted or included in a photo opportunity. Voters have to hold these candidates' feet to the fire, ask questions, insist on answers, challenge data, and pay attention to behind-the-scene machinations. The people who are running and financing a campaign are sometimes more important than the candidate.
Preoccupation with the weather continues to be an annual Malibu requisite. There are no familiar weather patterns and timetables any more. Rain can give way to Santa Ana winds, then segue to fog, all accompanied by temperatures that don't correlate with any of these. There is no area of Malibu that is free of wildfire danger, and residents must be on alert during all weather conditions.
The Malibu Surfside News had to run too many traffic accident articles in 2011. Fatalities shattered families and are a reminder that Malibu's roads, whether Pacific Coast Highway, or the cross-canyon routes, need special attention and increased law enforcement. Three black-and-whites parked together off Kanan Road south of the 101 is not an effective way to catch speeders on Kanan, let alone PCH. A state measure to ban all digital communication when driving, even hands-free, is imperative.
Public education is a major local concern every year. The monitoring of local school district finances is a priority—second only to oversight of the quality of education. School district officials must cease disregarding public requests for information. Administrators must stop pretending there are no drug issues and bullying problems.
The New Year includes the return of a once eradicated wildlife species in the form of a GPS-collared gray wolf that was written about in The News long before its travels attracted the attention of the mainstream media. The healthy soon to be three year old male wolf from Oregon is now in Siskiyou County. How people react to the wolf's return tells a lot about their relationship to nature. It will be interesting to watch this eco-drama unfold.
An individual requirement at the start of every New Year in Malibu should be a spirit quest in the wilderness. It can be as simple as a short walk on an easily accessible trail, or as challenging as a long trek into the local backcountry. Malibuites need to remind themselves that living here is predicated on a binding pact with nature. Whether it takes the form of rain, wind, fire, or any other manifestation, nature is in command of the community's fate.
Lastly, as most Malibuites already anticipate, 2012 will have its share of surprises. We're ready.