Paul Grisanti is a Realtor who has lived in Malibu since 1978. For the past 16 years, Grisanti has also served as a public works commissioner.
This is an abridged version of a much longer Q&A. We encourage our readers to read the text, in full, here.
Tell me about your history in Malibu. What prepares you to take on this role?
I came to Malibu in 1977 ... with a real estate license. My complete training ... consisted of taking me to the Malibu Canyon Village condominiums, giving me keys to five units and advising me to get a beach chair and a big hat and sit out front and chat with people when they come in. So I started at that point having tons of conversations about Malibu with people. As time went on, I became more devoted to my business, and changed to the John Douglas Company. I was talking to everybody all over Malibu. I worked with [the Kiwanis Club] to raise a lot of money with the chili cook-off every year [for 29 years]. Every year, we dealt with various nonprofits that wanted to have us donate what we made to them, which exposed me to lots of different areas of need and concerns of people in Malibu. I was appointed to the first general plan task force for the City of Malibu we had ... meetings in each of the various neighborhoods around Malibu to listen to what people wanted the city to do for them. And I took the notes and produced the actual minutes for each of those meetings. Jeff Jennings appointed me ... as his public works commissioner. Jim Thorsen, the former city manager, appointed me to a task force to study the District 29’s fire flow deficiency.
It’s generally acknowledged in Malibu that the Woolsey Fire and its response were mishandled. Do you agree and who do you think was responsible for mishandling the fire?
[The fire department manages everything] from where the fire starts ... To me, the thought of not positioning people where the fire is going makes no sense. I think at 9 in the morning on that day that it hit Malibu, there were half a dozen fire engines in Malibu. An hour later, it was still less than 15. And because of the fact that they were so overwhelmed, the order was given that they were to save lives only, not fight fires ... But there were way too many people in Malibu who had the experience of seeing their house being approached by flames, going out into the street, seeing a fire engine, and asking them to help and being told, you know, “That’s not my orders.” ... None of us expect to have to beg for fire protection.
[Due to budget concerns in Malibu] would you consider cutting Malibu’s sheriff’s department budget? Do you think it’s reasonable for Malibu to continue increasing the sheriff’s budget while LA County has decreased their allocation to the sheriff’s department?
I think that our public safety is horrible. Right now, we have a real problem with sheriffs being unwilling or unable to even ticket the sufficient number of people. We don’t have the ability to tow cars because we don’t have a temporary tow yard or a permanent tow yard ... We are solely responsible for funding the beach team, which is a large addition to the budget. We’re protecting the county property.
You have an impressive list of endorsements including several former council members. Is a vote for Paul Grisanti a vote for the status quo? And what would you say to voters who are looking for change at City Hall?
A lot of the status quo is very good. There is always room for improvement and I’ve been working for improvement on the public works commission and by attending city council meetings ... I’m not for the status quo. The status quo at the planning department for years was that it was impossible for anybody to get disciplined for not giving someone a permit, they could only get disciplined for giving someone a permit. I really am so delighted that the people who are there now hired Yolanda Bundy, who has been a wonderful hire ... and she’s making those people think it’s OK to say yes ... I think that’s healthy.
As a Realtor, are you personally invested in bringing more development to Malibu?
No, I am not. I’m personally invested in selling homes to people who want to live in Malibu or people who already live in Malibu and want a different home in Malibu.
Can you afford to be on city council right now? City council takes up a lot of time.
Fortunately for me, I’ve already been spending a whole lot of time on the city council meetings, the city planning commission meetings ... So yes, it will take some time but I’m spending that time on it anyway.
What do you think is the No. 1 issue facing Malibu today and what will you do in your first year in office to tackle it?
Parking. I think that that’s something that has some very reasonable solutions that can be enacted pretty quickly. We need to raise the fines for parking in a tow away zone and idiotic parking. We need to have the sheriffs be very aggressive about every time they see somebody doing an illegal U-turn, going through a red light ... That’s something that would improve the quality of life and it’s easy to accomplish quickly. We have other more intractable problems ... let’s face it, most of the city problems are long slog problems ... but immediate needs are immediate needs.