Handles the Crowd with Wit and Moxie
By Michele Johnson
At the end of Assemblyperson Sheila Kuehl's
Topanga Town Hall meeting on October 12, nothing had really
changed. A 25-mph speed limit for the town business center
is no closer to reality. A new state septic law is still looming,
Topanga still has no public transportation, and as one man
put it, untrammeled growth in L.A. County still leaves us
"rumbling toward disaster." Despite all that, just
about everyone at the meeting seemed happy to have Kuehl in
their corner, fighting the good fight in Sacramento.
The very petite Kuehl looked cool and casual in loose clothing, and
she soon showed she was very much in charge. Her wit often shined,
but she sternly shut down the crowd whenever it became unruly. There
was little pretense here. What you saw was what you got. One man became
so impressed he paid her the ultimate compliment: "If you were
running for president, I would vote for you." She isn't running
for president, but she is seeking the State Senate seat for our district
vacated by Tom Hayden. If she wins, and she seems like a shoe-in,
her constituency would go from 500,000 to a million. Later, Town Council
President Dale Robinette made his feelings clear when he reminded
the crowd, "On the ballot, she is number 43."
The main purpose of the meeting was to dissect the Topanga Canyon
Boulevard traffic issues, and many people came ready with questions
and suggestions on that topic. The first hour-and-a-half of the 3-hour
meeting was set aside for all other issues. But since Kuehl herself
pointed out that many people were there to argue one issue-the traffic-we'll
ONCE AGAIN, IT'S THE TRAFFIC, STUPID
Representatives from Caltrans, the CHP, the
State Parks and the sheriff's department stood to the side to answer
questions that lines of Topangans stood waiting behind two mikes
to ask them. Sheila opened the discussion by saying, "They
have not made a decision" about what to do about traffic safety
in the center of Topanga. Meanwhile, she has asked Zev Yaroslavsky
to help form a task force composed of community members, the CHP,
Caltrans and Kuehl aides to work on the decisions.
Sheik Moinuddin, the Caltrans representative, agreed that there
are "two or three locations that need to be looked at. There
are some safety issues." One is by the new Pine Tree Circle
mall. "Driveway, driveway, driveway, all over the place. This
is the safety issue at that location."
Second is the blind curve at Fernwood Market. There had been seven
accidents in three years, he said. Several people pointed out that
at the rate of 25 to 30 thousand cars negotiating the canyon each
day, that number could be considered low. Or, as one man put it,
"You mean the 35 million people that negotiated it successfully
[over three years] are going to be ignored." As these points
were raised, the crowd began to audibly complain. Sheila called
for order and got it.
At one point, Moinuddin said perhaps left-hand turns would be allowed
at only one of the two driveways out of Fernwood. Someone then pointed
out that there is only one driveway out of Fernwood. Cindy Jones,
the owner of Fernwood Market, said that if left turns are banned,
there will be a rash of people making illegal U-turns. "It
will be more chaotic with no left turns," she concluded to
applause. Finally, Kuehl stopped that controversy cold by stating,
"If there's only one driveway, there will be a left turn out
IS THE 25 LIMIT ALIVE?
Arlette Auvergne [Morgan], owner of Mimosa and
a founder of the Slow Down Thru Town movement, stood to press the
case for a 25-mph speed limit from the lumberyard to the school.
She stated that the group collected 2,100 signatures from people
backing the 25-mph limit.
Then came the bad news. Unless state law is changed or the present
rate of speed on the Boulevard changes, Topanga Canyon Boulevard
is apparently not eligible to go to 25.
In the first place, by law, the limit must be set at the next zero
down from the rate of speed that drivers travel the road on the
average. A study, which must be done in off-peak hours, showed that
the average rate of speed on the Boulevard is 42 mph. The next zero
down is 40 mph.
Traffic hazards, such as the curving road, allows another 5 mph
to be lopped off, leaving us with a legal limit of 35 mph. Also,
according to state law, business districts requiring a 25 mph limit
cannot be established on a state highway. "Under state law
at the moment, it can't be done," said Kuehl. "But we're
not saying it can't be done." Gary Welsey put into words what
everyone was thinking. "You can't have people go slower because
they're going too fast. It's like a Joseph Heller novel."
SHEDDING LIGHT ON TRAFFIC SIGNAL
The signal that was initially proposed by Caltrans
as a safety option for the driveways between the new Pine Tree Circle
and the old Center was discussed. Three people stood to say they
believe a traffic light is necessary for safety. The first woman
who dared to defend a light was softly booed until Kuehl put her
foot down. Lisa Trost also said she's in favor of a light. "I
would love the traffic to slow down there." One speaker stood
to say that perhaps, since the Pine Tree Circle just opened, we
should wait and study the situation. Finally, Neil Shaw compared
traffic lights to rabbits. "Once you have two, there's a lot
TERRIFIC TRAFFIC SUGGESTION BOX
To general applause, Lindy Hill asked for paved
turnouts to encourage slow drivers to pull over. In answer, Kuehl
said, "Caltrans is nodding. It's always a good sign."
Neil Shaw said, "I like to walk," and asked for Bot's
dots-raised dots-to enhance safety for pedestrians. The CHP Lieutenant
later remarked, "Any highway with that many cars, I wouldn't
walk along." Kuehl agreed, but added, "Currently it's
not safe to walk on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.We have to work to
make it possible." Shaw also asked if Highway 27 is officially
considered to be a 405 alternate. Sheila said no. "It's not
an official alternate."
Nelson Yardley was one of many who believed that the current speed
limits should be more vigorously enforced. "There are too many
damn cars going too damn fast in Topanga." Or as Andrea Koepke
put it, "There's no enforcement! I can't believe I'm asking
cops to give tickets."
Mary Helen MacIntosh has been in two accidents in three years stopping
to make a left turn into Fernwood Pacific. She asked for a left-turn
lane there. Moinuddin said, "We're looking into something like
Gary Welsey said, "The state could be called negligent for
lack of signage," and suggested more warnings as a cheap, quick
David Green voiced a suggestion that has been making the rounds.
Put up a sign, he said, saying, "Now entering the community
of Topanga. Speed limit strictly enforced." The only problem
with this solution is that it has been tried before, and the signs
have been stolen before most people had even seen them. One idea
put forth: a plain, metal utilitarian sign-too ugly to steal.
Then there were the not-so-terrific ideas. Paint the yellow advisory
speed limit signs white, so they'll be a legal limit. Make Highway
27 a toll road. Put speed bumps through the center of town. Make
people who don't live here take an alternate route by building a
new freeway through the Santa Monica Mountains. Make the signs bigger-billboards,
anyone? Allow no parking on the boulevard. (That idea brought major
boos). When the traffic discussion came to a close, no one was satisfied,
but good suggestions were made and noted, and a basis was set for
Other important issues held the floor during
the first half of the evening. Kuehl unapologetically confirmed
that she voted for the septic bill recently signed into law by Governor
Davis. It mandates that local governments must create new tough
regulations to monitor septic systems. As she put it, there was
"concern about the cleanliness or lack thereof of ocean water."
Environmental groups, including Heal the Bay, pushed for passage
of the bill.
When asked if she would vote for a bill to subsidize
replacement or fixes of faulty systems, Kuehl said she would. But,
she said, "It would be a hard sell." For one thing, she
said, "Money bills are difficult." And, she added, when
the state makes grants to help people conform to state law, proof
of need is required.
David Totheroh asked a follow-up question. Noting that alternatives
to traditional septic systems are now illegal, he asked if the state
could encourage the County to explore new technologies. Kuehl responded
that the first step for her would be "me to Zev [Yaroslavsky]."
"There's a lot of stuff I'm not in charge of," she said,
but agreed to use her "bully pulpit."
FAIR SHARE FOR OUR SCHOOLS
Parent Neil Shaw spoke up about the school system,
asking why LAUSD had not been getting its fair share of state funds
to build and maintain schools. Kuehl acknowledged that under the
old funding system of "first applied, first received,"
the "unwieldy, creaky mechanism" of LAUSD and other big
city systems couldn't get their applications in to get to the money
first. This meant that smaller school systems with much smaller
needs won the lion's share of the funds. This year that's changing,
she reported. $20 million will go to LAUSD now, with more to come
in the future. She agreed with Shaw that this is a drop in the bucket,
but said until the rules were changed, "They were dead out
of luck. Now factors of need are factors they meet."
GETTING AROUND-IT'S GETTING TOUGH
Lydia Frank, a 34-year resident of Topanga,
stood to ask on behalf of the seniors of the Canyon, "Is there
any way you can help us to get a bus?" Frank said that she
tried the County's senior transportation phone line recently when
she needed to go from her home to the Community House. They sent
a cab, and she was charged $15 for the short trip. Woman's Club
President Linda Hinrichs also spoke of the need for some kind of
shuttle that could take seniors to events at the Community House,
and to doctor and hair appointments. Kuehl agreed to "initiate
the question," though this, again, is primarily a County responsibility.
Kuehl offered to have her aide in charge of transportation, Laurie
Newman, "explore the existence of a contract." Lindy Hill
stood to request that if there is a bus, it should run on natural
gas. "I would like to see the diesel phased out. I would like
an aggressive program on the state level to do that." "I
agree with you," said Kuehl. "But and I are in the minority
in the state." She cited "heavy lobbying" against
the move. "I voted for every way to push alternatives.It needs
a critical mass of people for it."
Finally, one young woman rose and said Lydia Frank's dilemma "touched
my heart.I would love to dedicate my time to help transport the
elderly during the week."
Others had other transportation concerns. One man asked if our state
highway 27 could support a bicycle path. "I know you don't
want to hear there has to be another study," Kuehl replied
to general laughter. She then said it was a "difficult problem
because of the width of the road." And, she warned, when questions
like this are asked, "Sometimes the answer is just 'no.'"
CAN GROWTH BE SMART?
Another questioner asked, "What can the
state do to help urban regional growth of L.A.?" Kuehl responded
with uncharacteristic optimism. "There are a number of things
that can be done." She has joined a "smart growth caucus"
"to shape legislation that promotes infilling, instead of sprawl,
sprawl, sprawl." Things are moving slowly, though. Kuehl said
she backed a bill charging that no one could build over 200 units
unless they knew where the water to support the subdivision is coming
from. "It didn't even get out of committee," she moaned.
But still, "Ideas of smart growthare catching on," though,
she said, some attention had to be paid to "that pesky thing,"
private property rights.
Kuehl said one solution is to buy up open land for parks before
it can be built on, and touted her personal effort in obtaining
$80 million to buy up land from willing sellers in the Santa Monicas.
A follow-up questioner asked what the process is for spending Proposition
12 money. Prop 12, a bond issue that provides over $2 billion for
parkland acquisition and maintenance, passed last year. Well, said
Kuehl wryly, "It's said there are two things you don't want
to see being made-sausages and law." She said that the Secretary
of Resource makes the decisions. Kuehl got in early and asked for
as much as she could justify. "I was fortunate that a lot of
what we got in quick, we got. The process is a mess. It worked for
MOUTHING OFF ABOUT MOUTH OF THE CANYON
$40 million of that money has been earmarked
to buy up the land owned by the L.A. Athletic Club (LAACO) that
runs from the mouth of the canyon halfway up the s-curves. When
asked if the land, if bought, could ultimately still be developed
("I don't want a mini Knotts Berry Farm at the bottom of the
canyon.") Sheila answered, "I don't think anything's going
to be built on this property." She then called Harriet Burgess,
President of the American Land Conservancy up to the dais to expand
on that answer.
Burgess had flown in all the way from Oakland to be available. Though
some of the residents now renting properties on the land claim that
the American Land Conservancy has in the past been part of development
deals, Burgess insisted that isn't so in this case. "I want
a mountains to the sea park," she said to general applause.
She explained that the Land Conservancy was simply acting as a middleman
with State Parks, which cannot come into land while it is developed.
The deal has been in the works for years, she said, aided by a friendship
that developed between her and the head of LAACO. Will the Conservancy
develop the land? "No," she said. They would simply do
the staff work, the toxic surveys, and appraisals for the state.
When those are "completed and acceptable," the Land Conservancy
would "buy the property and convey it to State Parks."
Later, at the break, Burgess went further. "I won't have anything
to do with a transaction that means it's going to be developed.State
Parks will own it." She confirmed that "development has
to be removed" before the Parks can take over. And what about
relocation for the 14 businesses and 56 renting families that will
be displaced? "We're bound by law to do it.The standards are
quite rigorous." At this point, Matthew Lasky, a Topanga resident
who grew up in the Rodeo Grounds, as the group of homes on the property
is called, asked if there was going to be a realistic timetable
for relocation? Burgess said she couldn't answer that in detail
because they were just now getting bids from companies who do relocations.
And though they must relocate the families into "comparable
housing," she said, "A few feet from the beach? It's going
to be hard." As for the timetable, she would only say, "They're
not going to be thrown out on the street in a month."
Things are moving along. The appraisals on the property are due
by November. Then the relocation experts will be hired. They will
individually interview every family. Meanwhile, until the deal is
struck, Burgess said, "The LAACO people don't want us to go
in and talk to those folks." Deirdra Walpole spoke up. Though
the home she'd rented in another part of Topanga for 21 years had
recently been sold out from under her, she was philosophical. "The
fact is, when you're renting, there's no assurance that you can
stay." Burgess agreed, and pointed out that the Rodeo Grounds
renters "will have more benefits and protectionthan in the
The forum drew to a close only when Kuehl called it to a halt, saying
she'd take questions after the meeting in private. Throughout the
evening, she proved to be poised, knowledgeable, passionate and
inexhaustible. Not bad qualities for someone who must deal day to
day with the madness in Sacramento.
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North Area Plan Passes
By Tony Morris and Michele Johnson
In a near total victory for petitioners seeking
lower building densities, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
voted unanimously to approve the North Area Plan.
At a meeting held on October 24, Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve
the Plan, which dictates development of the 21,000 acres of land
located in the unincorporated areas of the County outside of Coastal
Commission. The plan will reduce the maximum number of new housing
units allowed in the area from 5,400 to 3,700--a reduction of about
30 percent from the Malibu/Santa Monica Mountains Interim Area Plan
it replaces. "This is huge!" exulted Laura Shell, Supervisor
Zev Yaroslavsky's deputy.
The plan only affects new construction on land that has not been
previously subdivided. Though the North Area Plan is much more restrictive
than the Interim Plan, a major protest was mounted in and out of
Topanga when the new plan was watered down by Regional Planning
amendments in June that increased density in key areas of the County.
A letter-writing campaign was started in Topanga a few weeks ago.
Topangans were also involved in a private meeting with Yaroslavsky
that took place October 20. According to sources, major wheeling
and dealing took place the week before the vote. And Topangans were
among the 250 who carried their protests to the October 24th meeting
Yaroslavsky arrived at the meeting with amendments in hand. Most
substantially, he asked for two large areas to be downzoned. First
he asked that several parcels totalling 1,500 acres, mostly adjacent
to parkland, including Malibu Creek State Park and Paramount Ranch,
be downzoned to reflect the Plan's density before the June amendments
watered the Plan down. He proposed going from an average density
of one unit per 20 acres to one unit per 10 acres. He also requested
that the property south of the Calabasas Landfill and adjacent to
the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor be downzoned.
Yaroslavsky asked to eliminate restrictions on septic system placement
suggested by Regional Planning, because, he said, septic systems
are already adequately regulated. He also called for a repeal of
a proposed Watershed Ordinance, which he called "overly restrictive
of uses that have not been demonstrated to impact water quality
in the area."
In a concession to equine enthusiasts, he asked that language be
added to make the plan less restrictive concerning equestrian and
recreational uses in the area. He advised the Board to add language
encouraging the building of privately owned recreational facilities,
including equestrian renting and boarding facilities. He also added
language to encourage the purchase of trail easements for hiking
and horseback riding, and specifically added a "protection
of viewsheds from trails" provision. All of the amendments
offered by Yaroslavsky were unanimously approved by the Board of
There were some losers. The Cornell Preservation Organization did
not win its bid to lower the density of a development known as Live
Oak Ranch in Agoura. Laura Shell said Zev did not ask for further
downzoning, since the property had already been downzoned from 125
units in the Interim Plan to 108 units in the North Area Plan, and
Yaroslavsky thought that was sufficient. The property, she added,
is on a sewer system, abuts the freeway and has access to roads.
Also, Yaroslavsky did not ask that the Quest Ranch property adjoining
Topanga in Calabasas, which had been upzoned from N10 to N2 by a
June amendment, be downzoned. Shell said that was one of only two
properties that the Planning staff recommended be upzoned out of
hundreds of properties that had been petitioned, and Yaroslavsky
bowed to their judgment. That means a maximum of 21 homes could
be built on the 42-acre parcel.
Roger Pugliese, head of Topanga Association for a Scenic Community
(TASC) who had worked for downzoning the Quest Ranch property, was
still happy with the overall outcome. "I'm thrilled that the
County has passed the North Area Plan. I commend the hard work that
was put into it by Zev, Laura Shell and Genny Krueger. But I'm still
concerned that the Quest Ranch property stayed upzoned."
On the whole, though, according to activist Toby Keeler, "It
is a clear victory for the Santa Monica Mountains."
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Gathering of Arts on Tap
For the fourth year, the Topanga Canyon Gallery
and Topanga Enrichment Programs are proud to present A Gathering
of Arts at Topanga Elementary School. This holiday sale showcases
the very best in handmade ceramics, paintings, jewelry and crafts.
The show will be held in the Topanga Elementary School Auditorium
on November 18th and 19th, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 - 4. A percentage
of sales will go directly to Topanga Enrichment Programs, the fund-raising
committee for Topanga Elementary School. This money will be used
to help support programs such as P.E., the school library, and teacher's
assistants in every class.
Don't miss this exciting community event, where you can support
our local artists and stock up on beautiful gifts at great prices.
Refreshments will be available.
The Topanga Canyon Gallery will also be hosting a special reception
on Saturday, November 18, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at their beautiful
new gallery in Pine Tree Circle. For more information call Sue Sullivan
at (310) 455-1169.
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Abuelitas Events Win Popular
Why watch the election returns all alone in
your home? Come to Abuelitas on Tuesday, November 7th, and party
or commiserate with your friends and neighbors. The fun starts at
5:00 p.m. with full coverage of election results. Cast your vote
Abuelita's style by ordering one of our special drinks named in
honor of the distinguished candidates. Bring in your voter receipt
and receive a well drink for only $1.00. Abuelitas is located at
137 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Dinner will be served from 5:00 to 10:00
p.m. Cocktails will be served until 12:00 p.m. Call 310-455-8788
for more information.
The work of local artist Susan Santiago will be displayed at Abuelitas
Restaurant beginning November 16 and continuing through January
of next year. The artist, and her husband Ral Curren, a resident
of Topanga for over 35 years, traveled every summer for a period
of about five years throughout the Mexican countryside, visiting
archaeological sites and collecting folk art.
The exhibition, entitled "Memories of Mexico," features
the people that the artist encountered during her travels.
An opening reception will be held on Thursday evening, November
16, from 7 to 9 p.m. Susan has been teaching art for over 20 years
and is currently a member of the staff at Palisades Charter High
School, where she has been teaching Advanced Placement Art History
and courses in the Humanitas program for the past three years. Many
of her students are children from the community of Topanga.
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Veteran's Day Swap Meet
Fall is in the air and there's chili powder
on the wind as folks prepare for another chili cookoff at the Swap
Meet. It's that time of year again. Topanga's Annual Swap Meet and
Chili Cook-Off will take place at the Community House, Saturday,
November 11 at 1440 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. between the hours
of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Expect to find great second-hand bargains.
Let your discards become someone else's treasures. Swap Meet Booth
spaces are approximately 10' by 10' and cost $15 each. Booth holders
need to furnish their own display materials such as tables, chairs
and anything else required to display the items being sold.
TEST YOUR COOKIN' SKILLS
A $10 entry fee will get you into the Chili
Cook-Off. All chili must be made on site the day of the event and
a $50 cash prize will be awarded. The entry fee for the Apple Pie
Bake-Off is only $5. Pies may be created at home and brought to
the Community House when the Swap Meet opens at 11 a.m. Judging
will take place at 3 p.m. The winner will receive a $25 cash prize.
MARK DATE, RESERVE SPACE!
To reserve your place in this great Topanga
happening just call the Community House at (310) 455-1980. The
Topanga Thymes has an entry form in every issue so join the
fun and we'll see you there!
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Spend Midnight at the Oasis
Let us slip off your shoes and slide you away
into incense and silks, anoint you with oils as you dissolve into
an ancient dream of dance, seated upon pillows to embrace a night
not so ordinaryCome to A Night at the Oasis, Saturday, November
18 at 7:00 p.m. at The Mermaid.
Melanie Kareem Middle Eastern Dance and The Topanga Chamber of Commerce
invite you to attend A Night At The Oasis. Made for "grown-ups
only," A Night at the Oasis promises to be one of Topanga's
most luxurious fundraising events ever. In support of the Topanga
Chamber of Commerce, A Night at the Oasis will feature exotic food,
deep relaxation and a full evening of sensuous Middle Eastern Dance
at the lush, historic Mermaid.
Don your favorite Middle Eastern attire and slow your life down
for just one night. The moment you arrive, Melanie Kareem's exquisitely
costumed dancers will escort you back through time, where you will
receive sumptuous foods, aromatherapy and sage advice from the wise
women of Kareem's troop, culminating in the belly dance show Topanga
adults have been waiting for.
If you have a sensual soul and a stake in the future of our community,
A Night at the Oasis is a night designed for you. Tickets are $40
and must be purchased in advance. For information and reservations,
please call (310) 455-2557 or (818) 591-1030. Don't let this evening
of relaxed revelry slip away.
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To Wed in Antibes
Arlette Auvergne, owner of Mimosa's and daughter of Gil and Cety
Auvergne, will wed Andrew Parker at 3:30 p.m., November 7, in Antibes,
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Town Council Awards Essay
At a recent Topanga Elementary School assembly,
Town Council President Dale Robinette named the four winners of
a Town Council Essay Contest. The challenge was to use their imagination
to concoct a story about one of the cars plucked from the creek
during the recent cleanup. First place winner Anna Hyman won a baby-blue
razor scooter. The second place prize, a $50 Barnes and Noble gift
certificate, went to Michael Ray; the third place winner Dani Dayani
won a $30 certificate; and an honorable mention $25 certificate
went to Tess Gardner. The following are the first and second prize-winning
essays. Congratulations, kids!
See the newsstand edition of the Messenger
for the winning essays
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Kids Behind Carlift Win
The ripple effects of the helicopter airlift
of the 20 wrecked cars from Topanga Creek reach far and wide. In
fact, the Public Advisory Committee of the Southern California Wetlands
Recovery Project thought it was such a wonderful project that they
gave their first ever award to Teacher Ritesh Shah and students
Nic Paparrella, Joseph Sloggy and Sean Denny. They traveled to Sea
World in San Diego on Thursday, October 19, to receive their commendation.
A lovely wooden plaque bearing the words, "For pioneering collaborative
efforts that have yielded wetland benefits of regional importance
and for persisting in the face of adversity," was given to
each. Teacher Shah spoke about how the effort of the students to
tackle the problem, their hard work in reaching out to the broader
community and the power of a good idea had made his work as a teacher
so rewarding. The awards were presented by Heal the Bay founder
Dorothy Green and Mary Nichols, head of the CA Resources Agency.
Terry Taminen of Environment Now presided over the ceremony, which
also presented the same awards to Dr. Joy Zedler for her work in
restoring the Tijuana Estuary and Dr. Wayne Ferren for his efforts
at the Carpenteria Salt Marsh. Over 100 participants at the first
ever conference on regional wetlands took time to honor the Topanga
students. "These students and their teacher have reminded us
that creative thinking, and hard work can really make a difference
in the world," summed up Dorothy Green, reflecting the feeling
of many on the Public Advisory Committee. Before the ceremony, the
Topanga Team was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Penguin
Encounter where everyone got to pat a penguin and learn about their
needs. It was a wonderful tribute to the students and the community.
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A Ditty Called Mothrocity
By Noel Rhodes
As I, and about a million other people with
nasty attitudes, drove along Topanga Canyon Boulevard, sweat was
squirting out of my every pore. I was so anxious and perplexed that
my teeth were rattling in my mouth like gravel in a rusted tin can.
My ears began sprouting tufts of coarse, matted hair. My hilarious
feet started spinning on my ankles like deranged pinwheels; the
symptoms of stress. But then, in a flash, I thought of something
that completely changed my withered and reeking perspective to one
of unbridled ecstasy. My eyeballs began to swell slightly. My nostrils
flared grotesquely as I inhaled this sweet new breeze of elated
anticipation. My lower vertebrae, like some sort of ill tuned xylophone,
clattered out a spirited bit of ragtime. Steam started whistling
out of my kneecaps making a shrieking noise that built to a volume
so great that my spinal cord slithered right out my mouth, lay down
coiled on the passenger seat and let out a big contented sigh. I
was happy. What was it that so radically altered my outlook? It
was that realization that MOTHROCITY would soon hit the Community
What is MOTHROCITY? No one knows. I do know that Mothra was a moth
so huge that the wind from its enormous wings blew down entire cities
in the movie, Godzilla vs Mothra. I also know that MOTHROCITY
will be presented by a group of Topanga youths ages 11 to 16 years.
It all leaves me nervously wondering what I will encounter at the
Community House on November 10 at 6:30 p.m. at $3.00. I encourage
you and everyone else to come and see for yourself. And although
I cannot guarantee your physical safety or even survival for that
matter, I will guarantee that something will emerge from its crazed
cocoon, escape from its catastrophic chrysalis and reveal itself
before a startled gathering.
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By Tony Morris
With Election Day near, a number of national
polls report that the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore is
a statistical dead-heat. Such a close race will focus attention
on voters planning to support the Green Party's candidate, Ralph
Nader. Serving as Southern California Campaign Coordinator for the
Nader Campaign is Topangan Woody Hastings. Hastings, an environmental
activist since 1982, has been active with the Green Party since
1985, helping Greens to get on the California ballot drive in 1991
and on the state ballot in 1992.
As the election draws closer, Hastings is confident that Nader's
campaign effort will make a difference when the votes are counted.
Some former Nader activists have already expressed their concern
that Nader will draw votes from Gore and provide Bush with victory.
Though many are asking that Nader not campaign in swing states,
he has refused. A New York Times editorial recently said
of him, "It looks from her elike ego run amok." But Hastings
sees the Nader candidacy and the Green Party as "a viable progressive
alternative" to politics as usual.
Hastings was appointed to the Green Party Council in 1998 and this
year was re-elected in the March primary. The Council serves to
set local Green Party policies and coordinates efforts with the
State Green Party.
As the Southern California Campaign Coordinator for Nader, Hastings
is responsible for coordinating activities such as precinct walking,
phone banking, tabling, voter registration, "get out the vote"
activities and organizing special events. Nader's campaign for Southern
California-which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange, San Diego,
Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties-hopes
to win up to 6% of the vote.
Hastings has been meeting with Topanga Greens since 1990 and organized
several house parties in the 1996 campaign when Ralph Nader allowed
his name to be used on the Green Party Ballot, but did not run a
campaign. Hastings says that Topanga Greens will be organizing for
the Nader Campaign, circulating information, posting signs and getting
out the vote for Nader and the Greens.
A Topanga resident since 1983, Hastings volunteered for a number
of environmental groups during the 80's before joining the staff
of Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE) and serving as Los Angeles
director from 1989 to 1992. Working with CBE Hastings organized
programs aimed at preventing public exposure to toxins and helped
Southern California municipalities, including Los Angeles, to establish
curbside recycling programs.
In 1994 Hastings joined the staff of former Los Angeles City Councilman
Richard Alarcon as the only Environmental Affairs Deputy, and was
instrumental in directing efforts to close the Lopez Canyon Landfill,
the only remaining landfill owned and operated by the City of Los
Working for the Nader campaign, which rejects corporate soft money
and political action committee contributions, Hastings says that
the two-party system has failed to provide voters with a real choice.
Mocking the Democrats and Republicans as "Dumoblicans and Republicrats,"
Hastings pointed out that Nader views the current two-party system
as having "morphed into a single corporate party with two heads
wearing different makeup".
Reaching out to Southern California voters, Nader is scheduled to
hold a "Super Rally" at the Long Beach Arena on November
3rd at 8 p.m. As Hastings works to get out the vote for Nader, he
sees history in the making as the Green Party gains momentum in
the United States and works to join forces with over 200 candidates
who have already been elected throughout Europe.
here to Mouth off!