The state Senate Local Government Committee approved 4 to 1 a bill that would make it more difficult for Los Angeles County to force Malibu residents to pay for a regional sewage system over their objections.
Introduced by Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), the bill would require specific findings of hazard from a county health officer and concurrence from the state Regional Water Quality Control Board as a condition of taxing residents for sewage projects.
Several Malibu homeowners' groups support the measure, citing their belief that the county intends to use pollution problems to justify building a larger system than is needed, which would foster growth in their area.
Clancy Leland, a lobbyist who testified before the committee on the county's behalf, said county attorneys believe the bill would kill the proposed sewage project. The bill "basically says until people start dropping from typhoid and cholera, you can't put in a sewage system," Leland said. He called Hart's bill "an attempt to put us in court for five or 10 years."
The bill moves next to the Senate floor.