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Let Malibu Be Malibu (Cont.) : Coastal Commission should slap down the supervisors' latest ploy

January 06, 1991

The people of Malibu have decided they want their own city. Now the California Coastal Commission can give them a chance to decide what kind of city it will be. The timing is exquisite, because it can settle two issues at once.

One issue is the size of a sewage collection system that would replace the septic tanks that are no longer adequate to the area's needs.

Los Angeles County Supervisors, with visions of a jungle of resorts and hotels functioning as property-tax machines, want a huge sewer system.

That's not what the people of Malibu have in mind. They want a smaller sewage system that will allow reasonable growth but prevent a rising tide of people that would wash away much of Malibu's charm.

A second issue is whether there are limits to the arrogant use of power that is reflected in the county's long, often sneaky, effort to force Malibu to accept the supervisors' vision for the city rather than that of its residents.

The sewage issue is on the commission's agenda on Thursday, and the signs favor Malibu. The commission last year approved a sewage system about two-thirds the size of what the county wants.

Its staff leans against the county plan because, among other things, the county system would dump up to 1.3 million gallons of effluent a day into Corral Creek, enough to damage the creek as a habitat and erode Corral State Beach.

As to timing, the people of Malibu voted to incorporate last June, with every right to expect they could start making their own decisions then and there. But the county board moved to delay the effective date of incorporation until March 28 of this year.

A vote against the county sewage plan would leave Malibu within reach of its date of incorporation and free to choose the scale of sewage system it finds compatible.

Slapping down grabby politicians is not the business of the Coastal Commission. But if the politicians get in the way while the commission is slapping down bad government, the politicians have nobody to blame but themselves.

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