Lagoon Review Is Still Mired in Debate
• Deadline for $25,000 Study Is Rapidly Approaching
BY BILL KOENEKER
Fingerpointing started at the Malibu City Council meeting this week when critics of the Malibu Lagoon restoration project accused the Department of Parks and Recreation for dragging its heels and not providing the documents needed nor making a recommendation for a consultant to review the paperwork for a $25,000 study to evaluate the proposal for a city council decision on whether to support or oppose it.
Marcia Hanscom, who is spearheading opposition to the restoration plans, said it was not true that her group had not submitted information.
"We didn't hear anything from State Parks," she said. "There is such expertise needed [in so many fields of science]. Who is an expert in all of that? This process is not the best idea."
However, Suzanne Goode, senior environmental scientist for State Parks, said that was not the case. "Our documents were either submitted at the same time or before Marcia's. I've given everything [to the city] last week," she said.
Goode also countered Hanscom's claims about the recommendations. "She has rejected all five of our recommendations. She submitted five names, none of them have coastal wetlands background and most of them are not third party independent consultants. Some of those are personally known to her," Goode said.
"She also rejected the governor's recommendations. We have another recommendation, but I have not contacted the party and have not yet told her," Goode explained.
Councilmember John Sibert, who is running for reelection, urged his colleagues on the council several weeks ago to allocate $25,000 for an independent study of the reports and documents related to the Malibu Lagoon restoration in order for the council to take a position. It was given a 30-day timeline
Roy van de Hoeck, who works with Hanscom, said this week it is important the council take a stand. "The council did not take a position or give direction to City Manager Jim Thorsen," he added.
Van de Hoeck was referring to two letters sent to the Coastal Commission that expressed concern about the water quality during construction. The letters were signed by Thorsen.
Councilmember Jefferson Wagner defended Thorsen saying he and the city manager had worked closely together on the letters and Thorsen did not take anything upon himself.
Sibert said this week the study needs to be done in a timely matter. "We need to sort out the assertions from the evidence and find out which is what in the lagoon."
Sibert had previously said he was not looking for another study, but rather to have an independent consultant to look at the facts.
Sibert initially indicated there are so 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.
However, Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who had openly opposed the restoration, said this week she personally felt the matter should have been handled just like when there was the threat of an LNG port near Malibu, referring to the $50,000 the city spent in opposing LNG.
"This study may or may not be done by the election," she said.