A Stunning Rise Could Also Be Even More Abrupt Collapse For Malibu’s Youngest Mayor.
Peak giveth and -update!- Peak taketh away.
In his never-ending effort to shake things up, Mayor Skylar Peak made a seismic misstep recently with his flip-flop on the development of Bluffs Park.
Peak’s decision to revisit the City funding of the Environmental Impact Report for one of the last remaining coastal bluffs in California sent shockwaves through the community and is probably the quickest round trip on a major campaign promise this town has seen yet.
It is not clear when and how Peak started to back out on protecting Bluffs Park, but it is clear the controversy to win the power over this precious open space is the the white hot center of Malibu’s environmental universe right now.
Peak went pro-development by going back on his promise to protect and preserve, leaving the future of Malibu’s rural coastal character in certain jeopardy. And now, and many of Peak’s supporters want him out.
This breach of trust by Peak is nothing less than monumental, creating a strong resistance from the pro-open space supporters who voted to re-elect him and a growing number of residents are now calling for his removal.
As the pro-preservation slate took to the dais in January of this year, Mayor Skylar Peak has unapologetically made some disturbing decisions going against the promises he made while campaigning for re-election.
Without question, Peak took Malibu voters for a serious ride down Disappointment Drive. And now, here we are at Regret Road.
Calling His Bluff
At this point, with his whiplash move on Bluffs Park, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that Mayor Peak might believe one thing in private and say another in public. On the campaign trail back in October 2016, the Team Malibu slate spoke at a rally at Point Dume resident Michael McDonald’s home where Peak got on his environmental soapbox in order to lure voters; “If I’m elected, I want to be with people who preserve open space.” Peak said.
As he continued to woo the crowd with his pro open space speak, Peak went in for the slam dunk to sway voters at the rally that he was against the development of Bluffs Park and gave a stern warning to proponents; “Wake up people. You’re never going to get it.”
Oh they, got it alright. Right between the eyes.
For the record, this was a sucker punch I knew eventually would come. When the slate first formed, the community was at a loss for true pro-environmental candidates. This meant I had to go against my instincts to publicly support Peak.
Note to future City Council candidates: Don’t make campaign promises you don’t intend to keep. It’s proves to be a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.
Numbers Don’t Lie
One would think the statistics showing how Malibu’s youth population is rapidly declining would be enough to deter Peak from destroying Bluffs Park. Or better yet, how about a parent telling you so. Longtime Malibu resident Kathleen Mudd, mother of 3, spelled it out for Peak:
“Malibu population of children is SHRINKING!!! Don’t believe me??? Ask Shari at CCW she is down to ONE classroom now for the first time in 30 years!!! She also had to let (Joannie), a long time loved teacher of 18 years, go!!! She has NO WAIT LIST!!! Why why why do we need to ruin Bluffs Park when there were only 3 U14 boy’s soccer teams this year and 4 U12. Do we need more fields for 4 teams? NO.Or what about baseball? Again 4 teams in each division. Why?NOT DUE TO LACK OF FIELDS, RATHER DUE TO LACK OF CHILDREN!!!!”
So, how is Peak rationalizing his change of position from the thousands of voters that re-elected him to preserve open space over a diminishing demographic with a very acute focus?
More importantly, why is Peak aligning with the proponents of developing Bluffs Park, who he knows distorted the results of the Bluffs Park survey to suit the minority and shrinking Little League lobby?
Why would Peak ignore the substantial geological deficiencies for the Bluffs, which he knows would be a virtual impossibility to push through the Coastal Commission?
Because, as I explained in our last issue, it has never been about the kids and it never will be. It’s about Politics, Power and Paybacks.
Peak jumped into the swamp and decided the water was just fine.
Will he learn the wisdom of Lord Acton, about how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?
One can only hope, but with the information we have learned, I’m not holding my breath.
“If I’m elected, I want to be with people who preserve open space.” – Skylar Peak, October 2016
Conflict Of Many Interests
Peak, who along with the slate campaigned on draining the swamp at City Hall, is now partially responsible for flooding it. In spite of City Manager Reva Feldman’s staggering deficiencies (one of the main reasons why the majority of voters looked to the slate to clean house), Peak, just days after the election, was already defending Feldman’s complete disregard for public safety as community members were alarmed the City issued no alert to residents after a fire broke out in Corral Canyon.
It’s no secret that Feldman’s agenda is to eradicate any and all City employees who are truly committed to the community, including the calculated elimination of one of the most dedicated employees to the Public Safety, former Emergency Services Director Brad Davis. Protecting the public is the FIRST responsibility of government and the City Manager and, at this point, there is no question Feldman has been severely derelict in her duties with regard to the public safety of our town. Malibu went 9 months with no one at the helm of Emergency Services (now “Public Safety Department”) during the most dangerous time of the year. This kind of city managing is undeniably dangerous.
Feldman, who has been with the City since 2005, is no stranger to procedure and protocol. Yet city hall has become increasingly conflict-ridden under her supervision and this decision maker is making decisions that don’t seem to be in the broad public interest. And with all that taken into account, Peak was one of the deciding votes to extend her contract, with an INCREASE in pay. Feldman is paid substantially higher than most U.S. Senators.
“I have been been more than satisfied thus far with her performance on this.” – Peak on Feldman’s track record making sure safety alerts are issued in a timely manner – which to date has not materialized, leaving residents to fend for themselves and take to social media to inform the community.
Peak wasted no time showing his true allegiances and at the first City Council meeting as part of the slate, Peak was unwilling to oust Lou LaMonte from the Administrative & Finance committee allowing LaMonte to linger long enough to run the current 2017/18 budget, effectively allowing The Swamp to remain in control for another fiscal year.
Peak has allowed the old pro-development regime of LaMonte and Rosenthal to continue to control the city’s relationships with outside agencies and governments. They have remained the city’s appointments to the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments, The Southern California Associated Governments, The League of California Cities, California Coastal Cities Assoiciation. After an orvelwhelming victory in the last election nothing has changed as far as the world outside Malibu is concerned, due to a clear lack of leadership by Mayor Peak.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Devastate Our MPA
Mayor Peak, a third generation Malibuite, was raised by a true steward of the land, his father Dusty Peak, a pillar in the community who spent his entire life protecting the creeks that went into the tide pools on Point Dume, which are considered to be a federally protected marine resource (Marine Protected Area or M.P.A.).
So imagine our disbelief, or come to think about it, maybe not so much, when we learned that Peak went out of his way to accommodate neighbor/developer Richard Sperber’s project on Wildlife at the February 13th City Council meeting – essentially sanctioning the desecration of such precious environmental area.
Why would Peak allow such leniency you ask? As I think back to the night before the election watching Sperber engage with Peak at a local restaurant and follow our group to another venue, (continuing to schmooze with Peak one on one) I had to wonder, “How deep does this relationship go?”
Pretty deep – and lands right in a Marine Protected Area that Peak’s father fought for decades to protect.
Sperber’s project was passed by the planning commission with restrictions on grading. In a behind the scenes move, the planning department “fixed” the plans to follow what Sperber wanted by allowing massive grading in a process called “substantial conformance”. After a huge pile of dirt towered over his neighbor, the planning department was forced to reverse its decision (a.k.a. “favor”). Sperber also filed a lawsuit against the City when the City revoked his building permit when it was also discovered that Sperber pushed too much soil out near the creek without the required runoff barrier, during the rainy season. These soils (silt) leached into the MPA which resulted in devastating the tide pools.
Peak absolutely should have had the presence of mind to recuse himself given his personal involvement with Sperber which could pose too many ethical headaches. Yet he chose not to, and instead, to appease Sperber, a majority Council vote 3-2 forced resident Chris Farrar (whose property was being affected by the project), to file a complaint against Sperber with the California Coastal Commission.
Another Bites The Dust
With the interest of running the City more efficiently, Council member Jefferson Wagner proposed the office of the Ombudsman during the 2016 campaign.
The City of Malibu is in constant jeopardy of continued litigation. An ombudsman may be able to negotiate a fair decision between two conflicted parties, eliminating costly court and legal fees for both parties. The ombudsman would be an independent resource hired by the city on an at-will basis.
Clearly, Malibu is in dire need of a program like this as our City manager prides herself in creating conlict and directs city staff to follow her lead.
Wagner is currently at a loss, needing council support to execute the office of the Ombudsman. Although Peak reached out to Wagner, suggesting they move on the proposed Ombudsman office, it still has not yet made it as an agendized item at either Zoraces or the Planning Commission.
The office of the Ombudsman is a necessary conflict resolution program which council member Jefferson Wagner promised on the campaign trail. Peak, who suggested to Wagner he was in support, has now switched gears leaving Wagner falling short on his campaign promise.
Hindsight is Always 20/20
As I look back at the efforts made by a core group of devout Malibuites to assemble a team of three candidates with the intent on protecting our rural coastal town, it is now abundantly clear to everyone that Peak was the riskiest, most controversial investment of the campaign and we were swindled into a slate by Peak that is now unequivocally pro-development.
Nobody likes being lied to and manipulated.
Malibu was sold swampland by Peak when he told us he was dedicated to draining the swamp.
The community has definitely soured on Peak suggesting the animus is now personal.
There will be a steep price to pay without question.