Council Holds Malibu 20th Anniversary Meeting in New City Hall
• The Second of the Events Marking the Date of the City's Founding Focused on the Future While Shining a Spotlight on the Past
BY BILL KOENEKER
Taken up with the continuation of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of cityhood and introduction of the new Malibu City Hall.
Boy Scout Troop #223 assisted in the pledge of allegiance, Malibu High School choir members Sophie Galate, Julia Wisnicki and Gabriella Marinaro sang the national anthem and there was a musical by Maria Newman and Scott Hosfeld performing an original composition by Newman that received rousing applause by the standing-room-only crowd.
That was followed by a Chumash blessing by Alan "Spirit Hawk" Salazar, who performed a blessing that asked that the bad spirits be taken away as well as bad thoughts. "We have many beliefs," he said as he asked for a moment of silence.
Mayor John Sibert, who took on the part of master of ceremonies introduced individuals who he said, "will be a part of Malibu history forever."
Considered by many the founding members of the City of Malibu, Sibert introduced Walt Keller, who was greeted with a standing ovation along with Carolyn Van Horn.
Sibert ticked off a list of introductions: those early council members who also performed mayoral duties during their stint, who were present for the night's celebration.
They included Missy Zeitsoff, Jeff Kramer, Joan House, Jeff Jennings, Ken Kearsley and Andy Stern.
Those who could not attend were Tom Hasse, who sent forward a note about his absence because of an ailing mother in the Midwest, Mike Caggiano, who is in Costa Rica and could not make it to the states and Sharon Barovsky, who could not be present and Larry Wan, who did not attend.
The mayor also remembered two of those who had passed away, John Harlow and Harry Barovsky.
Later in the meeting, Keller spoke about how he wanted to thank all of those who were involved in the incorporation movement.
"The Malibu Committee for Incorporation was completely volunteer," he said.
The road to cityhood became a maze of lawsuits after the Local Agency Formation Commission or LAFCO approved the budget and boundaries for the proposed city, Keller explained.
Developers or opponents to cityhood insisted that an environmental assessment of the city was required before LAFCO could approve the incorporation petition. "We were the first city required to have an EIR," said Keller. The matter delayed cityhood for a year.
Keller did not mention it, but when LAFCO finally approved the petition in July, 1989, it was with the stipulation that Los Angeles County would retain jurisdiction over the sewer district for 10 years.
Keller, who was the first mayor of Malibu, recalled how that did not end the delays and stalls of cityhood opponents.
For six months afterwards, the county refused to set a date for an election. Again MCI and the Malibu Township Council were forced to sue, even after an appeal the supervisors lost.
And then on June 5, 1990, an overwhelming 84 percent of the Malibu voters voted in favor of cityhood, Keller said.
However, the supervisors delayed the effective date of incorporation until March 28, 1991, according to Keller. "It was another loophole that screwed us out of another year," he said.
Even after the election the battle did not end and the new city council-elect consisting of Keller, Wan, Caggiano, Van Horn and Zeitsoff successfully lobbied the state Legislature to pass a bill ordering the county supervisors to let Malibu incorporate.
Keller said it was not until Ed Edelman became part of the board of supervisors that the relationship thawed. "[Supervisor] Ed Edelman was a friend, so is Zev [Yaroslavsky]," Keller said.
What Keller did not mention was the previous cityhood attempts that for one reason or another were foiled.
The first failed effort began in 1962 when citizens petitioned the board of supervisors for cityhood.
Tentative plans for a freeway through Malibu and the prospects of a nuclear reactor in Corral Canyon were considered the impetus for the desire to incorporate.
Ken Kearsley talked about the prospects for such a power plant Monday night.
"My bride and I came to Malibu 50 years ago," he said. "We paid $35,000 for our house to live next to a nuclear reactor?"
Kearsley said he still had a copy of the feasibility study of the EIR at that time. The time for self-determination seemed self-evident.
A battle raged for boundaries. The exclusion of the area east of Las Flores Canyon, part of the original rancho and traditionally thought as part of Malibu helped defeat cityhood, according to the Malibu Independence Day Commemorative Journal.
By the day of the election, 10 of the 37 candidates were opposed to incorporation and 76 percent of the 2,738 voters turned out to defeat cityhood by 266 votes.
There would not be another attempt for incorporation until 1971, though in three previous elections the voters kept defeating sewer bonds.
The defeat was quick and decisive this time. The cityhood petition was turned down by the then newly-formed LAFCO.
That did not stop Malibuites for long. Another petition was filed with LAFCO in 1974.
New boundaries were considered for this attempt that went as far west as Ventura County and Los Angeles to the east.
Cityhood opponents quickly formed committee's to oppose incorporation.
It was 1976 on November 2, when the voters took to the polls for the election of Richard Nixon for U.S. President, but in Malibu included the defeat of city hood by just 120 votes.
Another effort would not be made until the long successful struggle that resulted in incorporation.
When it came time for dignitaries to speak one of the warmest came from Fred Gaines from Calabasas.
"Malibu is more than a place. It is a dream. Everybody comes here and everybody has a memory. Malibu magic took over one night when my father took my mother to the old Sea Lion. My father asked my mother to marry him."
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky talked to the council members seated on the stage and said, "The dedication is beautiful. There are not too many city halls that have this ocean view."
Yaroslavsky joked about how his predecessor would always say that, "Malibu is two percent of the population of the district but will take up 60 percent of your time."
"It hasn't worked out that way. The city hasn't become normal, but it is moving that way," the supervisor quipped.