By Sam Hall Kaplan
So, the attorney for the over reaching Malibu Beach Inn has threatened to sue the city if it does not approve a public-be-damned proposal calling for a traffic light on PCH so the high end hostelry can accommodate quest parking off site and a private swimming pool.
Such brazen threats by attorneys in the past have been known to intimidate Malibu’s City Hall, which too often has tended when browbeaten to yield on planning issues, especially when confronted by resourceful applicants.
That is except when generous attorney fees could be charged to the city to hire help for its in house legal efforts, though given the city’s poor record in the courts raises questions whether the expenditures were worth it. Well, rumor is that city attorney Christi Hogin is going to retire soon, anyway.
Meanwhile, to its credit an emboldened Planning Commission at its last meeting rejected the Beach Inn’s proposal that unquestionably would make worse the tortured traffic on PCH, what with valets and guests darting back and forth, and a another light only a few steps away. The proposal next goes to the City Council, accompanied no doubt by echoing threats to sue. By the way, threats are cheap; law suits expensive.
The Commission’s rejection came despite the recommended approval of the Inn’s proposal by the city’s Nit picking Parking and Zoning Police Department, which operates under the nom de plume of the Planning Department, and the twitchy thumb of director Bonnie Blue and the heavy hand of city (Mis)Manager Reva Feldman.
Not incidentally, the well compensated nodding doll duo no doubt is impressed by the PR enhanced Malibu money and celebrity crowd, to be sure as others are, which does frankly make living and working here perhaps more lively, if not pricey. It also exposes the municipal mismanagement.
With the unctuous Reva unquestionably taking the lead, the duo have the arrows in their City Hall quivers to be able to accommodate however surreptitiously the local deep pocket real estate rabble, which has been known to pick up an occasional check at the local overpriced eateries. These include the Inn which yearns to be a second choice for the over flow high spenders at its overpriced celebrity spangled neighbor Nobu.
Reva certainly is known to like her perks, milking her Malibu identity, and traveling often on city business, as she did recently to pick up an reward as City Manager of the Year, from an association of peers, which she is coincidentally an officer, and for which the city picks up the tabs.
Whatever the association’s criterion is for the award, it haughtily refused to discuss them with Paul Taublieb, a contributor to The Local whose journalistic experience includes a Pulitzer nomination and a few Emmy Awards. This can unnerve despotic bureaucrats who are used to bull shitting underpaid and untutored journalists on compromised community media outlets.
Though perhaps we really don’t want to know how she wrangled the award, for Reva has been shown to be wily, as evidenced by her $300,000 plus annual salary and benefits she receives from Malibu.
And this after just a few years of administrative experience and no pertinent graduate degrees, having been previously a behind–the-door bean counter for nearly a decade, though obviously knowing where, and how, the bodies are buried in bureaucracies. Being also able to pad her payroll with faithful lackeys and tap outside consultants, obviously helped her public image, at least enough to impress Malibu’s neophyte councils.
Exercising as it does scant oversight, past councils of mostly undiscerning half-basked politicians over the years have tended to be fond of handing out generous consultant contracts, in return reportedly of being glad handed and validated off campus. And what hints of administrative abuses may have been uncovered, they were ignored, consistent with the cult of amiability that pervades local politics.
Hey, Jake, Malibu may not be Chinatown, but being a mythic and more-than-well off desirable seaside village with the reputation of having a mostly distracted, self-satisfied citizenry, it is well suited for burrowing bureaucrats in search of sinecures.
Where else can an inexperienced city manager earn more than the governor of the biggest state in the union and the 7th largest economy in the world?