City Says It Is Not Able to Proceed Yet on Lagoon Consultant Selection
• Waiting for Recommendations and Documentation
BY BILL KOENEKER
City Manager Jim Thorsen said this week he is still waiting for the proponents and critics to submit the documentation and their recommendations of consultants' names after the Malibu City Council agreed last week to allocate $25,000 for an independent study of the reports and documents related to the Malibu Lagoon restoration project in order for the council to take a position on the project.
Last week, council candidate Andy Lyon was all over Councilmember John Sibert about his proposal. "I don't understand why you want to spend $25,000. You are spending the $25,000 to get it past the April [election]. Don't stall us out. [Is anyone going to be ] at the ribbon cutting or chained to the bulldozers?" Lyon said. "This is like spitting in the wind."
At the last council meeting, Lyon had challenged the council members to declare their position on the lagoon restoration. "Are you for it or against it," he asked.
Minutes later, Sibert said there is "so much heat and so little light" on the lagoon, the city needed to take a position and called on his colleagues to finance a $25,000 review by an independent third party "to look at the verifiable truth."
Sibert said he was not looking for another study, but rather have an independent consultant to look at the facts.
Sibert initially indicated there are many claims and counter claims he wanted to see that corrected.
Responding to charges that he wanted to delay the matter until after the election, Sibert said, "I want to see this done before the election. We need to agree on who is going to be doing this. We are not on opposites," he said.
He indicated he realized there can be lots of mistakes and misinformation and pointed to one of them. "About my being vice chair of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. Talk about a mistake. I am not a vice chair and I am not even on the executive committee of the commission," he said.
However, Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who had openly opposed the restoration, said Sibert could have called for the study nine months ago. "We [could have] looked at this for the last nine months. I want to know why Councilmember Sibert had not called for it then. They could have been studying this. What happened in the last nine months? Is it now nine months later because of the campaign?" Conley Ulich asked.
"I resent that statement," shot back Sibert. "It is not [because of the city council] campaign. I did not say that about that."
Conley Ulich said she was going to support the allocation, but did not want the researcher to be from NOAA, and the study must be done in 45 days.
Councilmember Lou La Monte said he was going to consider the matter based on the scientific evidence.
Councilmember Jefferson Wagner defended Sibert, saying his colleague took a fair stand. "I think we should follow through. The USGS could do this. But we do need it in thirty days," he said.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal said she too wanted the information. "I'm hearing things tonight I know are absolutely not true. I want to support this."