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California Coastal Commission’s recent unanimous approval of Malibu’s further restrictions on pesticide use is being hailed as a win for the environment.
The vote took place during the commission’s remote meeting May 13.
“The commission’s decision will bring lasting protections from pesticides to some of Southern California’s most vulnerable species, like tidewater gobies and mountain lions,” said Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, after the vote.
“If other communities are serious about protecting California’s native biodiversity and fighting the climate crisis, pesticide restrictions are a must,” said Reid-Wainscoat. “These toxic substances pollute our waterways, accumulate in our food chains and degrade the soil’s ability to capture carbon.”
National Park Service studies show deaths of coyotes, bobcat, mountain lions and fox caused by anticoagulant rodenticides. Officials say rodenticides have also caused at least six known mountain lion deaths in the Santa Monica Mountains area.
But rodenticides are just one type of pesticides that can affect wildlife, sensitive habitats and water quality.
A seven-year effort to rid Malibu of these potential poisons, the proposed Local Coastal Program amendment started with a citywide prohibition on anticoagulant rodenticides.
However, since that first step in 2014, the proposed language changed as the measure made its way through the Planning Commission and City Council, culminating with restrictions on all types of pesticides.
Before the May 13 meeting, Coastal Commission staff was recommending the commission reject the proposal unless some of the language was changed.
The suggested modification clarifies “that the pesticide limitations proposed by the city apply in connection with ‘development’ that consists of or may involve the use of pesticides” and ensures the LCP policy “is consistent with the Coastal Act, is not preempted, and can be successfully carried out in order to protect important coastal resources.”
The modification also is necessary to require the application of chemical substances, when permitted, “to not take place during the winter season, when rain is predicted within a week of application, or when wind is predicted above 5 mph,” according to the staff report.
Modifying the LCP language, the report further states, means that Malibu’s restrictions could outlast those imposed on the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides by a newly enacted law.
“AB 1788 may change over time after the state reevaluates these rodenticides and adopts other control measures,” staff wrote, “but the (Malibu) policy’s restrictions would remain in place unless later amended.”
The nonprofit group Poison Free Malibu and city staff worked on the proposed modification.
"We were pleased that the language covered all of Malibu, as wildlife is endangered by pesticides from anywhere in the city. The amendment gives the ability to the city of stopping any pesticide application that harms the environment. We are confident that the city of Malibu can implement the amendment in an effective manner, and we will be working with them to help."