Mikke Pierson for Malibu City Council 2018
Vote for a City that works for YOU
I have the background and experience to improve the way that the city addresses public safety, the environment, development, traffic, short-term rentals, proliferating "rehab" houses, homelessness and emergency communication.
At the same time, I will promote resident-serving businesses, an independent Malibu School District, clean energy, new recreational faciliites, and public arts. And I'll preserve Bluffs Parks as the crown jewel of Malibu.
But foremost, I will listen to you - your priorities will be mine. I will always strive to do what's best for the City and it's people, with the greatest integrity.
Here are my thoughts on a variety of issues facing Malibu, and how I intend to address them.
(Click to open any topic that interests you)
Pacific Coast Highway has become extremely hazardous to drivers and pedestrians alike.
- I will work with CalTrans to make safety improvements along PCH - for example, at dangerous intersections such as at Las Flores Canyon.
- Our relationship with CalTrans needs to be more consistent, so I will insist we assign a staff person to be communicating with CalTrans continually.
- My Planning Commissioner will consider PCH safety and traffic intensity for all proposed development projects that are adjacent to it (as is not always done now).
- We will encourage CalTrans to crack down on health and safety issues around the many motorhomes that now park in the area outside of City jurisdiction between Coastline Dr. and Topanga Cyn.
- We should place signs at the main entry points to Malibu to alert visitors to the unique hazards of PCH (for example, "Pedestrians - Don't cross the highway halfway - fast moving vehicles may enter the median lane.") Adjacent signs should also include welcoming information.
- The City will also include a "PCH safety" report card in its Quarterly Newsletter, on it's website, and possibly in a newspaper, like Heal the Bay does for beach water quality. It would be a sober reminder, four times a year.
Wildfires can be disastrous.
- SoCal Edison proposes to shut off electricity during Red Flag (high wind and heat)
events – right when we most need emergency communications! To overcome this
deliberate crippling, our emergency electricity and communication services should
be configured in a network of "microgrids", in which clusters of solar panels,
batteries and/or generators provide basic backup power for cell towers and critical electrical
functions. Each neighborhood should have one.
Big Rock's microgrid, for example, would be linked to its main water tank (which requires an electrical pump), so that firefighters would still have water, even when SCE has shut down the main grid.
I will prioritize that the Council order a report on how such a network of microgrids can be implemented, in terms of specific technologies, cost, and how best to coordinate the relevant agencies.
- The State Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) has
proposed to build campsites in Malibu – one of the most fire-prone areas in the
nation. The short-sightedness is mind-boggling! While I support the preservation
and appreciation of wilderness, the safety of Malibu must be our priority over outside interests.
I will work to restrict public access in vulnerable neighborhoods. I will do this by making sure that the MRCA fully appreciates our safety concerns – we're not just NIMBY's! This may require the City to take legal action. I will work with other State agencies, such as the Coastal Commission, to condition and limit MRCA's ability to create public safety hazards in our city and neighborhoods.
- I will prioritize that the Council order a study on putting all utility wires underground. This would reduce hazards of fire and earthquake, while improving views too. The cost will be high, but we will seek creative ways to fund the project incrementally over time. Let's get started!
Environmental protection is a principal value enshrined in our city's Local Coastal Plan. Malibu has both the wilderness worth preserving and the financial and community resources to do a better job of it. I am excited to work with our City Council to make Malibu a more shining example of sustainable and environmentally-safe practices. How we treat our environment in the next few years will strongly influence what Malibu becomes in the future.
- I will preserve Bluffs Park as the marvelous swath of coastal habitat that it is. With the City's recent acquisition of 30 acres elsewhere, sports fields and other facilities can be developed in less environmentally sensitive areas (see "Malibu promotes education, arts and culture," below). Bluffs Park must be retained as a natural habitat, and for hiking.
Manmade chemicals are killing wildlife, harming the environment and endangering our health. I will continue to work to have toxic substances banned from sale and use in the City of Malibu.
- Rodenticides have a horribly destructive effect on the environment far beyond their intended targets. Poisoned animals are eaten by others, so that animals further up the food chain – notably mountain lions – are disproportionately affected. I will not stop until we have a full ban on all these poisons being sold or used in our city and local mountain areas.
- I will work to finally ban Glyphosate (Roundup) weed killer. The State of California now classifies it as a "known carcinogen." Recently, a study by the EWG found that it's getting into our food supply. Why would we keep spraying it on our yards? Controlling weeds by other methods may be more labor-intensive, but it's a small price in comparison to ruining your own health and that of the local environment.
- I will fight to ban the sale and use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids, as they are now known to be contributing to the "Colony Collapse Disorder" of honeybees.
- We must enact science-based measures to support native wildlife – not to mention our own pets, which are often exposed to poisons. For example, I support the installation of raptor poles, which provide a perch 18 feet above the ground from which hawks and owls can target gophers and other rodents. Such poles have been scientifically proven to be more effective than rodenticides.
- I will work to have the city further educate our citizens on natural methods of pest control, versus harmful chemical "solutions." Our City Website and media outlets should be handy and reliable sources of environmentally sustainable practices.
Similarly, science is quickly learning that manmade "micro-plastics" are permeating ocean waters, irreparably harming marine life. Laudably, the City has already banned Styrofoam fast-food containers, plastic grocery bags and plastic straws.
- We need to ban the sale and use of mylar balloons, which are notorious for entangling and killing seabirds and marine mammals such as sea lions. I also believe we should ban single-serving plastic water bottles, as there is no good reason why we can't use refillable bottles.
- I will explore ways that the City can be a leader in promoting new environmentally-safe alternatives to plastic – products made of organic, biodegradable materials.
Invasive plant species are an environmental problem that is increasing in Malibu.
- For example, driving on PCH between Topanga and Big Rock, you may have noticed that the hills have become increasingly covered in fountain grass. This South African plant is highly invasive, and has been spreading rapidly in Malibu, starting from its introduction somewhere in the East end and heading West. Even now, clumps of it are appearing on Point Dume and in Malibu Park. While it might look pretty – someone probably planted it next to their swimming pool, originally – it aggressively replaces the native plant life. In turn, native animals no longer have sufficient habitat to survive. If left unchecked, fountain grass will have most of Malibu looking like South Africa within a decade or so.
- Fountain grass is not susceptible to glyphosate, so fortunately there's no temptation to spray herbicide on it. Unfortunately, it seems the only way to get rid of it is to physically pull it out by the roots. So, I propose that the City liaise with the State of California Conservation Corps, which can send out work crews to manually pull out the grass – especially near the edges of roadways, where it tends to spread the quickest.
- I will explore whether other invasive plants may require similar measures. These might include Russian Thistle, Spurge, and possibly Cheese Weed (a mallow).
- Preserving Malibu's native vegetation goes right to the ideal of keeping Malibu's unique character.
A variety of small local organizations do valiant work in support of the environment. The City has supported the work of some; I will explore ways in which the City can assist or collaborate with more such groups. Examples of past and continuing partners that I support include:
- Poison Free Malibu has worked with the City to limit rodenticides and pesticides; I support their efforts to implement a complete ban on such toxic substances.
- The Malibu Community Alliance has worked to help the City institute the Dark Sky Ordinance, which limits outdoor lighting to what's necessary, to minimize the environmental impacts of light pollution.
- The Malibu Monarch Project is helping Monarch Butterflies to repopulate the area, by encouraging gardeners to plant the milkweed plant on which Monarchs depend.
Ever since May Rindge hired armed guards to keep the Federal government from running a railroad through Malibu a century ago, we've had to face off against outside governmental agencies that haven't fully considered safety, the residents, or the sensitive environment of Malibu. Today, we need leaders who are strong enough to stand up against State and Federal pressures, yet who are at the same time constructive enough to work with them cooperatively to obtain what benefits they can provide. I believe that I have the right personal qualities and experience to keep outside agencies working more in our favor. My seven years of volunteering on the Malibu Planning and Public Works Commissions has given me the experience and knowledge to make a positive difference.
In recent years, the State Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) has proposed building overnight campgrounds in several places in Malibu. The MRCA has also engaged in acquiring private residential property and converting it to public land, to increase public access to the Santa Monica Mountains.
- Citizens of Malibu have correctly identified serious safety hazards – e.g., putting campground fire-pits in a high fire danger area – yet the MRCA has misunderstood the people's response as being mere NIMBYism ("Not in my back yard"). I will fight reckless outside agency plans that increase the risk to our city, our safety and our environment. I won't let the people of Malibu be held hostage. After all, we too are the public for whom the Santa Monica Mountains are being managed by MRCA.
- I will also ensure that MRCA doesn't develop further beach access routes without adequately addressing parking and safety along PCH. Too many people have been hurt or killed for the MRCA to continue recklessly developing land in the ironic name of “public access."
In August 2017, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published new flood maps for oceanfront Malibu. Residents are obligated to rely on these maps to obtain homeowner's insurance, and even just to buy or sell property, yet experts have found that the maps contain significant errors.
- As a Planning Commissioner, I have seen firsthand many of the errors on the FEMA Flood Zone maps. As a Council member, I will help to engage FEMA to correct the errors. Our city has the experts who can work with FEMA to ensure the maps are as accurate as possible.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not sufficiently addressed the disruption caused by airplane noise in Malibu.
- The FAA has altered flight paths in and out of LAX, in some cases increasing airplane noise for Malibu residents, especially in the middle of the night. I will work to ensure that residents' concerns are heard at the highest levels of the FAA. We can't magically limit the number of airplanes in the sky, but by making our concerns better understood we may compel the FAA to make accommodations as to the proximity of flight paths.
- Noisy airplanes towing advertising banners have proliferated, especially in the Summer. Some of them carry ads for alcohol and condoms – items which are, ironically, illegal to use on our public beaches. A decade ago, the City started dealing with the FAA about it but then stopped pursuing the issue. I will look into it. If the City dropped the ball, I will pick it up and run with it.
As a Planning Commissioner, I’ve seen the negative impacts of development. Too often our neighborhoods have experienced the creeping, cumulative effect of too many individually-approved houses – each of which individually conforms with all the planning codes. On the City Council, I can use my knowledge and experience to help keep intact the unique character of our various neighborhoods. I will propose common-sense modifications to our regulations to make sure our neighborhoods remain peaceful places to live and raise families.
- I will work with the Council and Planning Department on a program to incentivize projects that are lower in bulk and size. We will streamline the permitting process for houses that don't push the permissible boundaries, and that don't need any special variances. People who want to build "close to the land" shouldn't have to wait years to get approvals.
- I will work with the Council and Planning Department to ensure that large-scale development projects – commercial buildings and over-sized residences – more readily require an Environmental Impact Report. It's common sense that if a project might have significant impact on a neighborhood or the surrounding environment, it should be closely evaluated. If those potential impacts are found to be significant, they must be mitigated, or the project scaled back, or not done at all.
- I will reinstate stricter requirements as to how near residents must be to large development projects to be sent written notice of a pending development project. Currently, only people within a 500-foot radius of a project need be notified, no matter how big the project is. I propose that for commercial and large-scale residential projects, residents within 1,000 ft. must be notified; and for public, government projects (such as a coastal access stairway), residents within 1,500 ft. must be notified. This greater notification will allow you to keep a closer eye on your neighborhood character, and will also increase governmental transparency.
- I will look into creating further incentives for property owners to dedicate conservation easements to maintain wildlife habitat.
Also, in regard to quality of life, I'm a strong proponent of locally-owned and resident-serving businesses. But before the City can develop a coherent policy, we're missing a piece of the puzzle: we don't have a record of the businesses currently in Malibu.
- I will institute a means of "taking inventory" of all the businesses in Malibu. In consultation with the City and the Chamber of Commerce, we will determine what the simplest, most appropriate way to develop a business registry might be. Having more information will help us to notify businesses about local events, about how new regulations might affect them, to provide compliance incentives (e.g., re water usage), and to survey their views on future City matters.
- Once we have a clear picture of the Malibu business community, as well as better information on citizens' preferences, we can begin to think about incentives (and disincentives) to gradually transition the overall mix of businesses to one that better serves local residents.
- When we have up-to-date contact info for businesses, we can more effectively communicate with them, for their benefit, and for local citizens.
Part of Malibu's unique charm derives from the diverse character of its neighborhoods. Some are swanky, some are rustic. The differences mean that certain issues are more prevalent in some neighborhoods than in others. I will help ensure that, as City policies are crafted and implemented, your neighborhood's unique interests are not lost in the shuffle.
The proliferation of "Rehab" centers is an issue that affects some neighborhoods more than others. Currently, many addiction treatment centers are not the good neighbors they should be. The City must impose strict regulations, so that only the safest, most responsible ones remain in operation. To do this, we must continue working cooperatively with State and Federal officials. But the City can also take some action on its own – and we will.
- I will keep pushing state legislation (e.g., SB 786 or AB 3162) to disallow rehab and "sober living" facilities from being within 300 feet of each other, to keep them from becoming large compounds. That will keep them from dominating the character of neighborhoods.
- Currently, rehabs face fines of $25/day for code violations. I will work to increase fines so that they are a meaningful deterrent – not just a negligible "cost of doing business."
- Unlicensed and unscrupulous owners should not be permitted to abuse the intent of the Fair Housing Act in order to circumnavigate our zoning rules.
Short Term Rentals (STR’s), such as Airbnb, are another issue that affects neighborhoods differently. I support strong regulation to preserve the character of our neighborhoods. We cannot allow commercial interests to supersede the rights and values of residents. With strong and well thought out regulation, we can help our neighborhoods retain their unique character and safety.
- STR's must be limited to primary residences only, with clear and concise limits. We will prohibit absentee landlords in all residential zones.
- Commercial landlords absolutely cannot be allowed to operate STR’s in our neighborhoods.
- I support the City's current efforts to license STR’s – and we may have to go further. Various municipalities in the world have already taken steps to prohibit corporate, non-resident STR's, including Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Boston. We will learn from their experiences and apply them where appropriate for Malibu.
- We need greater transparency with the Transient Occupancy Tax, so that we can fully enforce compliance.
- We will insist on consistent, accountable enforcement of safety and noise violations.
- We will make sure that all STR's have developed and posted emergency plans for review by their temporary guests.
Homelessness is another problem affecting some neighborhoods more than others. It has been increasing in Malibu, and all over the Los Angeles region. But the problem is not new; it has been a huge concern of mine for over 30 years.
- I strongly support Malibu's Homeless Outreach Team and the work they do here. They have engaged with over 100 homeless individuals in Malibu, and secured housing for 48 of them, as of May 2018.
- I will continue in my role as Co-Chair of the Volunteerism Sub-Committee for the Santa Monica Homelessness Steering Committee, which keeps me connected to solutions and best practices in dealing with this humanitarian crisis.
- I encourage people to join me in volunteering at one of the Malibu's Homeless Connect Days to help and get a human perspective on this issue.
Under my watch, Malibu will get its own independent School District. I strongly support the $195 million bond measure on the ballot, which would provide funding to eventually rebuild and upgrade all the public schools in Malibu (which are older than me!). Malibu, not the voters of Santa Monica, must make our own decisions regarding our children's education. Every child here should have a world-class education, to achieve their full potential.
- As a Planning Commissioner, I'm aware of what it will take to make this transition as smooth as possible, to minimize any disruption of our neighborhoods and families.
- As a parent of three grown children, I know that school safety is a top priority. I will be vigilant in addressing any safety issues as they arise.
- I'm excited to welcome the new SMC Malibu Campus into the community. It will mean that residents don't have to travel so far to take classes. And it will provide adult and continuing education classes, to enrich the lives of those of us who haven't seen the inside of a classroom for a while.
- Teens and kids of Malibu live in a great city and attend wonderful schools, but many students remain justifiably concerned with gaining real work experience, whether through internships, volunteering, or part time jobs. As a member of the Malibu City Council, I will make sure that Malibu students are well informed about local opportunities through job and internship fairs, cooperation with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and our schools. Through my longstanding experience as a small business owner and business consultant, I have employed and helped nurture hundreds of kids through critical points in their career paths and I intend to bring that experience to my role as a city council member…they are our future….
The City has recently acquired nearly 30 acres, comprising over 11 acres in the heart of the Civic Center area, plus the 18-acre "Christmas tree lot" at Heathercliff Rd and PCH. This land will serve for recreational and arts facilities and will provide additional parking. This land acquisition also removes any incentive to develop Bluffs Park, which I strongly believe should remain undeveloped.
The recent land purchases are a golden opportunity for the city. As your Council member, I would work to implement the following priorities:
- Recreational facilities, including sports fields, a skatepark, and aquatic center (pool); and possibly a tennis court, if there's a demand.
- A Malibu Arts Center. Our community is brimming with artistry in all mediums, yet the city has too few venues and opportunities for all that talent. I have already been working for there to be synergy with the future SMC campus.
- A community garden – where both "community" and vegetables are grown. It will be educational too, a destination for school field trips; it may also include a dedicated youth garden.
- Parking, especially to alleviate congestion in the Cross Creek area.
In addition to a new Arts Center, I will work with the Cultural Arts Commission to make the City more "art-friendly." The arts are a fundamental component of a healthy community; they improve individual well-being, spark creativity in other areas of life, and strengthen the local economy. In practice this will mean:
- Instituting common-sense codes that facilitate artwork in our daily environment. For example, an artistic mural should not be subject to the same rigorous permitting standards as a commercial sign. Together with our Cultural Arts Commission, we will develop art-friendly code, as exists in some other cities.
- I support further public art initiatives like the City's current Request for Proposals seeking an artist to create environmental public art for storm drains.
- I will push for a pilot program to underwrite both art and educational messages on bus benches. This program could provide exposure to emerging Malibu artists. Educational material could emphasize things that all community members should know – for instance, natural methods of pest control, or what to do if you get bit by a rattlesnake.
Malibu, for all our societal resources and knowledge, should become known as a "clean energy" city. For example:
- I will promote the pilot program of the Clean Power Alliance program, coming to Malibu in Spring 2019. Once you sign up, it will allow you to choose your ideal mix of renewable energy sources, which then are still delivered to you by SoCal Edison. No longer will you need rooftop solar panels to be making a difference. I'll make sure that anyone who might be interested has an opportunity to sign up for it.
- I will explore having the City consult with non-profit organizations working towards sustainable solutions, such as Natural Resources Defense Council, which promotes a variety of clean energy policies, and Climate Resolve, which is helping the City of Los Angeles to be more energy smart and to better prepare for the long-term effects of climate change.
- We will promote the Malibu Smart Water Conservation Program which targets the very highest users of water in the City with incentives to switch to technologies that reduce water use.
It's not as easy as it should be for people to know what going on inside City Hall. I believe that an informed populace is an engaged populace – the more you know about the workings of the City, the easier it can be for you to have a voice in how it's run. So I will institute measures to make the business of the City more transparent and easier to understand – which in turn will increase accountability.
- I will work to have the City revamp its website and email notification listserv to make them more user-friendly. Currently, when you sign up to get email notices from the City – on Council hearings, for example – you'll receive an email that tells you the date of the next hearing with a link to the City website – and that's all. Instead, that email should contain the summary Agenda of the upcoming meeting, so you can see at a glance whether it's something you'd like to attend, without having to wade through the website to finally download a PDF file. You shouldn't have to work just to know what's on the calendar!
- For businesses, once we have your contact information on file, we'll be better able to inform you of city actions and events that might be relevant to you. The fewer "surprises” you get from the City, the more streamlined your own operation can be.
Just as I will make it easier for you to know what the City is doing, I will make it easier for the City to learn about your own concerns.
- I will work to improve the community workshop process, so that more people's voices can be heard, in greater depth. As it is, you can say only so much in a public hearing when you have three minutes to speak. I will institute open forums, one every few months, that will provide enough time to discuss issues with the sort of nuance that sometimes gets left out of more formal hearings. Unlike in City Council meetings, no official business will be conducted. But sometimes forum issues may be sufficiently articulated to become worthy of further action by the City Council.
For example, the City will want to encourage nuanced discussion about where best to locate new arts and recreation facilities that we expect to build on the several recently-purchased parcels in the Civic Center and at Heathercliff Rd.
- Through occasional email "mini-surveys," residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on matters currently at hand. That way, the City can "take the community's pulse" on key issues without having to wait until the next election.
In the end, the City can only serve you as well as it hears your concerns. You can call me personally any time and I'll promptly respond. Please explore my website for further information or to make a campaign donation. I look forward to serving you further.
Yours sincerely, Mikke Pierson 310-309-0038