Code crackdown in Calabasas

The year in Calabasas began with a bombshell proposal to build a lavish $8-million aquatics complex at Juan Bautista De Anza Park. The concept quickly fell apart as residents on the west side of town feared their neighborhood park would become too commercialized.

Early in the year, the city began its crackdown on property owners whose lots have septic tanks. A new ordinance, which required the owners to obtain an operating permit and have their systems inspected for leaks, cracks and illegal parts, caused an uproar among the longtime Old Topanga residents who considered the law to be costly, punitive and unnecessary. One family was evicted when their property was found to have multiple building code violations.

The issue led to a rift on the City Council when James Bozajian and Mary Sue Maurer announced their opposition to the septic regulations and the plans to install sewers in Old Topanga.

Annexation efforts picked up steam in 2010 as city officials considered the acquisition of territory south of Calabasas in addition to Mont Calabasas and Mountain View Estates.

In August, a request to place cell towers on a water tank on Adamsville Avenue in the Mulwood neighborhood hit a bump when residents persuaded the city’s planning commission to seek other locations for the new T-Mobile wireless antenna. The discussion led city officials to consider stronger policies for new cell tower installations.

“Somebody needs to lead the way, and the city should tighten rules for new wireless towers wherever it can,” Mayor Barry Groveman said.

A controversial urgency ordinance to the building code that was approved by officials in November posed problems for the city Council. The ordinance includes policies for on-site wastewater treatment systems and allows city building officials to disconnect utilities if they observe code violations. Residents said it infringes on the rights of property owners.

Officials promised to review the new building codes in detail before approving a permanent ordinance in early 2011.

In August, park rangers found the remains of Mitrice Richardson in a remote area off Piuma Road between Calabasas and Malibu. The 24-year-old woman went missing in September 2009 after being released from the Malibu/ Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station in the early morning hours.

In December, both Groveman and Councilmember Dennis Washburn announced they would not run for another term in the municipal March 8 elections. Seven new candidates qualified for the race in what figures to be the most wide open City Council election since the city was founded in 1991.

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