If you’re a reader of our letters to the editor on this editorial page, you will soon see that a number of people are unhappy with what we print. Perhaps it’s time to go over our rules concerning letters to the editor. There are really only three rules: First, the letter has to be no more than 350 words in length. Second, you can’t libel anyone. And third, we have to know who wrote the letter—give us a phone number or email so we can reach you if necessary. That means we don’t edit your letters. We run the ones we choose, but we run them as you sent to us. Will that make some people unhappy? You bet. Will that leave some people thinking the criticism in the letter is unfair? You bet. Will some of those letters generate controversy and make some people angry? Yes again. An editorial page is the place for those controversies to be aired. Criticism can be fair or simply totally unfair—that’s for you to judge, not me. These days, some seem to knee-jerk react before thinking, immediately write an email and hit the send button before reflecting. I figure that comes with living in a democracy; it’s not always civil, which helps to grow a thick skin. If you read something you think is unfair, inaccurate or factually wrong, feel free to respond and say your piece.
By now, many of you have received letters from a newly organized group called Together for Dwelling Size Fairness (also referred to as TDSF), which was formed in response to a city initiative to downzone Malibu in every neighborhood of the city through what the city calls neighborhood standards. The city can call it what they will but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the city’s downzoning ordinance. This ordinance, currently in development with staff, is coming soon to a hearing before the Planning Commission on July 1. It’s been billed as an anti-mansionization ordinance, but it is much more than that: It is going to have a profound effect on every homeowner in Malibu. To put it in the simplest terms, if your house is worth $4 million today and the city downzones by as much as 25 percent, you now effectively have a house with a $3 million market value and you’ve lost $1 million. It affects everyone. The homes burned out in the Woolsey Fire. The smaller, older homes generally owned by old people. People who want to build granny shacks. Existing large homes. Why the city wants to do this now is beyond me. Why, when the city is recoiling from fire damage and many are trying to decide if they want to come back? This is just a slap in the face. It’s the same council attitude we saw when the council rejected the Bluffs Park swap and doomed the creation of new ball fields, recreation facilities and additional recreational space. Council members are simply not interested in people or their children unless they agree with them and their concept of a rural community. This is just the opening gun of this battle. We will be writing about this a great deal in the future, from the planning commission to the city council to the endless litigation that I’m sure will follow. The city gets upset with Joe Edmiston and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy because they consider them to be arbitrary and often capricious. But when our city gets arbitrary and capricious, well, they consider that just good government.
Former Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Lieutenant Jim Royal was our Malibu liaison for many years and is greatly respected in the community. We thought so highly of him that the Malibu Dolphin Charitable Foundation awarded him a Dolphin Award when he left. He was our go-to guy and could always be counted on. Suddenly, after the Woolsey Fire, he was assigned to another station in the North Valley, far from Malibu. Initially, we thought it was just a new Sheriff moving people around, but that was apparently only partially true. Jim Royal has just filed a government claim alleging that LA County, the sheriff’s department or both knew of the numerous shootings incidents in the area of Malibu Creek State Park in Malibu Canyon, and despite numerous requests from Royal, refused to allow him to go public with the information and alert the public to the dangers. That was all before Tristan Beaudette, a father, was shot to death in a tent while sleeping alongside his two young children. Royal charges that he was later moved out and punished, and had his detective status removed, because he was not being a good team player and keeping his mouth shut. At this point, these are just allegations, but they will certainly be aired in full during Royal’s case as well as during the Beaudette widow’s and daughters’ wrongful death case and perhaps also before the Board of Supervisors, who are already unhappy with the new Sheriff.
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