ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Staff response time is so important. Response time says a great deal about an agency.
When I wrote to David Tristan of the LA City Ethics Commission, about Jeremy Oberstein, I expected to hear back in a few days, like with Herb Wesson's form 700. But he fired off a response to my query immediately, "What was Jeremy Oberstein's last day of service?"
"Eric, I believe it was March 25 but you should contact the Controller's office to get the official date. Here is our information on the revolving door ban."
"Am I missing something?" I wrote, "If you hold any of the following positions at any time in the 24 months before you leave City service, you are prohibited from lobbying any City agency for one year after leaving City service.
So, how I wondered was Jeremy Oberstein shimmying over to Strategies 360 so quickly? Other CD2 helpers did time at S360, including Areen Ibrannossian, who deserves a chance to amend his linked-in resume, so it accurately reflects the six years of Paul Krekorian, dirty work.
Oberstein worked for the Controller Ron Galperin during 2021 in one of the capacities that have a holdback on lobbying. Administrative Deputy Controller to be specific.
The Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Malibu, Bruce Silverstein, thanked a public commenter calling him "diligent" saying that "Ryan might work harder than some of us." It seemed like he was referring to his six fellow councilmembers, but it wasn't clear.
Listeners wondered, where's Silverstein going with this? Could this develop into another discrimination claim? Litigation season is year-round.
In early February, Silverstein was found to be unprofessional and hostile but not culpable of gender-based discrimination against former City Manager Reva Feldman. She eventually settled with the City for up to $300,000 depending upon how quickly she landed another cushy gig.
Feldman was a perennial if you like a competent autocrat willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure it's eternally springtime in Malibu. Feldman's critics alleged that she was various combinations of secretive, imperious, inept, overpaid, and possibly corrupt.
Corruption is in the eye of the beholder. "See y'all in court!"
Silverstein recommended approval of the warrant that Ryan, the member of the public had questioned, conditioned on a staffer becoming satisfied "later," when she had more time to review the nitty-gritty. "If it does not satisfy Ruthy, later, we can circle back around with counsel."
Apparently, when running for office, Mr. Silverstein had been criticized for making public record act requests that caused staff to have 'feelings' and complain of 'exhaustion.'
There are two current narratives about the Malibu City staff, that can be gleaned from the April 11th regular meeting.
One is the story of a badly depleted brigade of wilted staff employees, who can no longer afford to live or (park) near enough to Malibu, to make the endless commute and allegedly paltry wages add up. The other narrative has staff doing a FANTASTIC job--with a very strict ordinance, and an electronic refund system that is...quite accurate.
"We Kind Of Need Help."
At the 1:00 hour mark of the 4:09 Malibu City Council meeting, the "We kind of need help" messaging started. But it was quickly drowned out by a very interesting presentation... apparently, way too many fire victims, desperate to get permits and back to the building have been struggling.
And there was a fascinating sort of greatest hits video of prior councilmembers talking about the controversial "1000 square foot exemption if you build a basement."
This has resulted in some people gaming the system it was alleged. Turning a three thousand square foot home into a four thousand square foot home can be fun and lucrative, but...
Another eye-opener was the robust turnout by the "very low carbon concrete" people. One individual who described herself as the head of product, said, "precast, as opposed to ready mix... is about 40% of the concrete market." She said there was an enormous upside to amending the building code to make very low carbon concrete a building requirement, "the bigger and bolder" the more likely the initiative could bring "national headlines."
She said it was time to move "as quickly as humanly possible."
And if City staff time was an issue, she was very happy to bring in on a pro bono basis, obviously, policy staffers, who she said were "Passionate and well-versed"... and certainly, "UCLA can be accommodated."
April is associated with springtime, new beginnings, and a time to bloom. That's not a coincidence either. April comes from the Latin verb "Aperire" which means "to open." Like the flowers and trees, it's a time to start fresh and also a good time to increase parking citations in Malibu.
As a member of the Malibu public safety committee that spearheaded the sweeping increases to the penalties for more than a dozen types of citations, said, these people are acting with a 'patent disregard' for our ordinances and laws.
The City received approximately $1.367 million in revenue from parking citations in 2021. Staff is working with the City’s citation processing vendor to develop an updated projection as the parking citation revenue is anticipated to increase moderately as a result of the proposed increases.
At a November Commission meeting, they voted to recommend that the City Council increase the fines for 14 code violations, with six of the violations called out for substantial increases to $150 due to their public safety impact and prevalence.
The largest number of citations written this year went to No front/rear license plate which accounted for 4179 citations in 2021. This may be particularly important in the future since the City will be installing Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras. And you catch more motorists with two plates.
The second most frequent went to a very surprising Fire Hydrants, accounting for 1,433 citations.
Bronze was awarded to Park 18in from curb/wrong direction 788 citations.
All the remaining categories were under 200 citations except one, Obstruct roadway/lane, which happens on a coastal road that I am familiar with because the spaces that are LEGAL for parking, but not properly maintained sufficiently to park a vehicle.
Thus, the volunteers issued 225 citations for having a wheel touching the edge of the line. But, understandably, on the PCH this can be a life and death situation.
The reason we review the fees and penalties from the prior year is not to gloat and brag, but rather to be sure the future budget has all the latest (ALPR) cameras and know-how to grapple with a serious public safety issue.
The new rule that everyone seemed proud of makes a typical $73 citation for camping on the PCH in an RV, that "they'll just pay. It's half the cost of Malibu RV park" being replaced by an escalator ordinance.
"One RV has been on Coral canyon for years. Now, with this ordinance, the first ticket is $100, the second $200 and the third is $500. So that is up to $800 in three days! And then it's $500 for each ticket."
It was tag team, "The only reason fines are appealed is because people don't want to pay them."
Then a whistleblower came forward, "You have to do some enforcement, the 1433 fire hydrant citations... nobody is going to argue that being in front of a hydrant is okay. It's a clear public safety hazard.
But the City of Malibu ought to be ashamed of itself for not putting a bloody sign up so that we don't keep tagging families who come to visit our community and park what they believe to be legally and get a nasty citation, over what the appellate court felt was not appropriate. Now, I suppose a meter is different than a hydrant, and you probably looked very closely at what a court would say...
But still, think of the impact on people who are already hammered by so many expenses, including gasoline, come to the beach in the County of LA and the greedy supervisors have the gall to charge $20 to park in a public parking lot down the way in Malibu. I mean, it's outrageous.
And so we should let people know what's fair so they don't get nailed. There is nothing worse than a dad and his kids, when they realize, "Oh no. Here's $150...Arggh, that was going to be for your birthday present." If they knew, they would never in a million years.
In my neighborhood, I spend a fair amount of time, cautioning people... warning them not to park in front of a poorly marked hydrant. "Don't park there, you'll get a ticket." I say. They are always appreciative and never say, "I'm good, I'll just wing it and pay!"
Angelenos don't want to block the fire department or block people in, generally. But, obviously, one can feel the blood boiling of the people who may be listening who are impacted by the raging a-holes who do put their trucks wherever with impunity, and the motorhomes that do prevent access while gaming the rules, but "let's at least try to find a way to be fair," the whistleblower said. "Let's at least post signage so that people understand that they have a fair chance. "
These are not necessarily poor people, another commenter clapped back, quasi-offensively, though it did not seem intentional... "unless my cleaning lady is driving a new Tesla."
And then there was a cry for help from the Lost Hills Sheriff's department's Joe Fender. "I know he's been running around at public appearances all weekend, but we've been under siege in our neighborhood by people who moved in and feel they have permission to do all sorts of things including making wild and false and defamatory allegations."
Malibu City Council voted to increase parking citation penalties, and the public resolved to increase public scrutiny.
For instance, if a person who is known by the Sheriff, parks in the red zone delineating a fire hydrant, is it the right of a particular Deputy to allow the person to slide?
Would that be giving an advantage to that person? Is discretion baked into ticketing?
One caller said, "tell it to the judge, Judges are generally responsive to the parties before them."
APRIL: REMEMBERING REVA
By Laura Kasischke
Dawn sails up
on the backs of birds.
In memory, your grandmother
is already awake.
The sky-blue sky surrounds her
at the windows, washing.
Reva remembered now
in Eric's voice, saying,
"If you are happy, healthy
it is all that matters."
Memory is what matters now.
At the end of the long winter
your grandmother lies down
wisely and forever
She would say to you,
It is April, Eric.
The sound of her voice,
the familiar touch
of her hands, her laugh
is everywhere in you.
The sound of spring
comes over the trees
on Adams Avenue.
Those black-branched wintered
trees did not die. Now
they sleep deep inside themselves,
but spring is in them
driving up like dawn.
At the end of the long winter
your grandmother lies down
She leaves the spring behind her,
to you, still giving.
[Disclosure: the hydrant was painted bright yellow after portions of this comment 4/11]
April Daily Holidays and Observances
April 1: April Fool's Day, International Fun at Work Day, Walk to Work Day
April 2: World Autism Awareness Day, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
April 3: National Chocolate Mousse Day, Find a Rainbow Day, World Party Day
April 4: International Carrot Day, National Hug a Newsperson Day
April 5: National Deep Dish Pizza Day
April 6: National Walking Day, Siamese Cat Day, Student-Athlete Day, New Beer's Eve
April 7: World Health Day, National Beer Day, Burrito Day, No Housework Day
April 8: National Empanada Day, Day of Silence
April 9: National Unicorn Day, Winston Churchill Day, Name Yourself Day, Chinese Almond Cookie Day
April 10: National Hug Your Dog Day, Siblings Day, Farm Animals Day
April 11: National Pet Day, Submarine Day, Eight Track Tape Day, Barbershop Quartet Day
April 12: International Day of Human Space Flight, National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, Library Workers Day
April 13: International Plant Appreciation Day, National Make Lunch Count Day, Peach Cobbler Day, Scrabble Day
April 14: International Moment of Laughter Day, National Gardening Day, Look Up at the Sky Day
April 15: National Laundry Day, Titanic Remembrance Day, World Art Day, Tax Day
April 16: Husband Appreciation Day, National Librarian Day
April 17: Easter, International Haiku Poetry Day, National Cheese Ball Day RELATED STORY Easter Movies to Watch with the Whole Family
April 18: National Velociraptor Day, Animal Crackers Day
April 19: Wear Pajamas to Work Day, Garlic Day
April 20: National Look-Alike Day, Chinese Language Day
April 21: National Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day, High Five Day, Kindergarten Day, Tea Day
April 22: Earth Day, National Jelly Bean Day
April 23: World Book Day, National Picnic Day, Shakespeare Day
April 24: National Pet Parents Day, National Pigs in a Blanket Day, World Laboratory Day
April 25: National DNA Day, Telephone Day, World Malaria Day
April 26: Audubon Day, National Pretzel Day
April 27: Babe Ruth Day, National Prime Rib Day, Tell a Story Day
April 28: Workers' Memorial Day, Stop Food Waste day, National Superhero Day, Blueberry Pie Day
April 29: International Dance Day, National Arbor Day
April 30: International Jazz Day, Honesty Day, National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, Oatmeal Cookie Day
April Weekly Holidays and Observances
National Library Week (April 3-9)
National Wildlife Week (April 5-11)
Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week (April 10-16)
National Volunteer Week (April 17-23)
Every Kid Healthy Week (April 19-23)
National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 26-30)
April Monthly Holidays and Observances
Autism Awareness Month
Child Abuse Awareness Month
Couple Appreciation Month
Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Fair Housing Month
Financial Literacy Month
International Guitar Month
Jazz Appreciation Month
Keep America Beautiful Month
National Decorating Month
National Garden Month
National Humor Month
National Month of Hope
National Pecan Month
National Poetry Month
National Volunteer Month
Occupational Therapy Month
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
Scottish-American Heritage Month
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Stress Awareness Month
(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)