Fred Gaines back as Calabasas mayor

SWORN IN—New Calabasas Mayor Fred Gaines takes his oath. Courtesy City of Calabasas

SWORN IN—New Calabasas Mayor Fred Gaines takes his oath. Courtesy City of Calabasas

Mary Sue Maurer ended her third term as mayor of Calabasas at a City Council meeting on Nov. 29. She resumed her role as a City Council member and voted with the rest of the council to elect Mayor Pro-Tem Fred Gaines to lead the city.

Councilmember David Shapiro was elected to serve as the new mayor pro-tem.

This is Gaines’ second term as mayor of Calabasas. He first served in 2013.

The new mayor said that before he took office a second time he met with the heads of each city department and compiled a list of goals to accomplish in 2018, which he laid out in his acceptance speech.

“In Calabasas we don’t stop moving and we don’t stop dreaming. In 2018 we have aggressive plans for new projects and programs in every department,” Gaines said.

“In our public works department we’re going to complete the Lost Hills bridge. We’re going to focus on environmental programs, focusing on electrical vehicle charging stations, water projects and solar projects. And I’m announcing that I’ll be asking my colleagues to initiate the Old Topanga/ Valmar gateway project.”

Gaines said that Valmar Road, which turns into Old Topanga Canyon Road, is the last gateway into the city that hasn’t been upgraded to include bike paths, sidewalks and an entrance rock announcing to drivers that they are crossing the city limits.

As part of the upgrade, Gaines said, he’d like to look into improving traffic conditions in the narrow canyon corridor, which often experiences heavy congestion due to the several schools in the area, including Calabasas High and Viewpoint.

He also plans to push for greater public involvement in city development projects, which he said would be the most detailed and aggressive public participation plan of any community in Southern California and would allow Calabasas residents to be involved in development projects from the beginning.

“We’re going to conduct complete and thorough environmental reviews. We’re going to look at the facts in our analysis in our consideration, and we’re going to conduct a fair and open public process in a timely fashion. These are always difficult things for the city when we have these kinds of projects, but we’re ready for it. We’re going to handle it in a positive manner,” he said.

Gaines detailed city development projects already in the works, including the building of the new world headquarters of Coty Cosmetics, the Cambria Suites hotel and a Stand restaurant, which he said he was particularly excited for.

He said that regardless of anything else he oversees as mayor of Calabasas, the thing he’ll be most remembered for is cutting the ribbon on the city’s first Trader Joe’s supermarket, set to open in May.

Also on Gaines’ list of goals for the year is a citywide public safety drill to plan school evacuations and coordinate the efforts of emergency responders in case of earthquakes, fires or other disasters.

He announced that he had met with the Local Agency Formation Commission and officials from Agoura Hills about developing a long-term plan for annexing unincorporated territories from Los Angeles County. The city and county have had an ongoing legal dispute over the annexation of a parcel of land on the city’s western border that Gaines said should be resolved in 2018.

At a reception after the reorganization of the City Council, Shapiro said he intends to focus on community cohesion and to further the issues he’s pursued since being elected to the council.

“I’d like to try and put a curb or change patterns of behavior on bullying, an anti-bullying campaign starting in schools,” he said. “My other goal is to work with the senior center and our senior engagement in the city . . . because that’s a growing community.”

Maurer said she looks forward to returning to being a City Council member as it will allow her more time to spend with her family and friends.

“This is my third time leaving the mayor’s office, so I’m pretty aware of how I’ll feel in the next couple of weeks,” Maurer said. “It’s like post-pregnancy. You get all the attention, the accolades, and then you have the baby and the baby’s here and you kind of become invisible again.”