They'll Ban Horses, Won't They? Not If Ruth Gerson Has Anything to Say About It

VOL.26 NO. 11
May 30 - June 12, 2002

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By Susan Chasen

Ruth Gerson has been doing important work in the Santa Monica Mountains for years, promoting the acquisition and construction of an extensive public trail system. She has been president of the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council since 1998 and a boardmember for nearly 30 years.

Trails are popular with hikers and bicyclists. But Ruth Gerson is an equestrian and more and more she is finding that all her trail work is threatened by a trend among agencies like the California Coastal Commission to brand horses as bad for the environment.

As founder of the Recreation and Equestrian Coalition, REC, Gerson has rallied hundreds of horse people to fight an onslaught of county and Coastal Commission measures and enforcement cases limiting horse-keeping options in the mountains. There was a Coastal Commission requirement that appeared out of nowhere to put fencing around protected oak trees, so horses couldn't stand under their shade--this happened here at Topanga's Eden Ranch. Gerson herself fought a reinterpretation of county codes applied to her 3-acre property that would have prohibited horse boarding on less than 5 acres.

These new horse regulations are driven by the suspicion that horse manure is a significant watershed contaminant as well as a carrier of non-native plant seeds. In some places, though not yet in the Santa Monicas, horse owners are reportedly required to purge their horses for 12 hours before riding on public lands.

The granddaddy of these local regulatory fights is raging now in Malibu over the Coastal Commission's proposed land use plan, LUP, for the city. The plan extends the designation of Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area, or ESHA, to about 70 percent of the city and virtually all the undeveloped land. The basic policy is that new facilities for horses are prohibited in or adjacent to an ESHA and existing facilities risk becoming non-conforming uses. There are apparently exceptions, defined generally as whatever falls short of being a legal "taking" of private land. That, plus square footage limits on development areas and the number and placement of structures are interpreted by equestrian as creating a ban on horses.

Owing to an extraordinary move by the state Legislature, the Coastal Commission took over preparation of Malibu's Local Coastal Program, LCP, which includes a land use plan, released in January, and a local implementation plan, LIP, due out for review any day. After hearings this summer, the plan is expected to be adopted in September.

Opponents of the Malibu LCP charge that the citizens of Malibu have been cut out of important land-use decisions in favor of an inadequately accountable Coastal Commission, a state entity comprised of 12 political appointees.

Gerson is, of course, on the front lines in the fight. She estimates there are about 5,000 horses in the Santa Monica Mountains. Many of them belong to members the mountains' older rural, ranching tradition, a shrinking constituency when it comes to battling increasingly citified environmental activists.

For her, the battle is for a lifestyle that embraced the environment of the Santa Monicas long before it became a popular cause.

Ruth Gerson, an Agoura resident, was born in Brooklyn and moved to California in 1946. Both her parents were attorneys. Her father retired as chief attorney for NASA at Edwards Airforce Base. Her mother was a criminal defense attorney. Gerson earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from UCLA and received a teaching credential. For a time she taught gifted children who couldn't read because of emotional problems. But her greatest passion is for the outdoors. For many years, she has taught horseback riding, horse camping and led packing trips in the Sierras. She boards 12 horses and has four horses and a mule of her own.


Why do you think trails are important?

Trails are recognized as an important part of people's lives because they reduce stress and give people a place for recreation, to get away from their work. They're a family oriented facility. They have tremendous mental health benefits, physical benefits--hiking, biking, running, riding. So they're being recognized more and more nationally, with national historic trails, national scenic trails. All the states are working to support trails.

What have been the Trails Council's greatest accomplishments?

We've received substantial grants for trail work. We built the View Ridge bridge in Topanga Canyon and we have for the past three years sponsored a week-long hike of the Backbone trail with Coastwalk.

We basically have one of our volunteer trail maintenance crews working on a public trail every Saturday of the year except in August.

Another organization I'm involved with since the mid '70s is ETI [Equestrian Trails Inc.] Corral 63. My main goal with that is to get the equestrian camp ground built, which I have been working on for 20-30 years, so that there is a place where people can drive in with their horses, unload and camp and ride just like people [camping without horses] can at any other campground. There is nothing here in the 150,000 acres of the National Recreation Area.

Why do you think agencies are adopting policies that are increasingly restrictive on horses?

First of all, horses are discriminated against because 99 percent of the people in the non-profit and government agencies are uninformed about horses. Years and years ago, all the Forest Service, National Parks, State Park and agency people all came from the farms and ranches and had the background of livestock and agriculture. Today very few people have that background. They're city folk who say they want to save this and they want to save that. But they have tunnel vision And so they need a scapegoat. And they figure, "Well, the horse. Why should we have the horse? It's big, it must be bad. And they really don't understand. I think that as people become more educated that is the answer to a lot of the problems."

How does the Coastal Commission's proposed Malibu Land-Use Plan affect horses?

They're saying they want horses only within the 50-foot irrigated fuel modification boundary. The Health Department requires that horses be at least 50 feet away from a residence. Well, 50 from 50 is zero, you won't have a horse. And then of course the Malibu plan from the Coastal Commission also says all undeveloped land is an ESHA and there will be no livestock in an ESHA or in lands adjacent to an ESHA. So now every weed and every blade of grass is equivalent to an oak tree. You can't do anything in it without a permit and a biological report and a study and a whole thing. They've taken everything and made it so extreme that they know people do not have the financial resources to fight it or the personality and character to stay with something so aggravating - get on with your life, move, or do without your livestock.

Do you think horses are a significant source of pollution to the watershed and the bay?

That's one of the things that Dr. Robert Atwill from UC Davis has been working on. There was a time when cryptosporidium was thought to be coming from horses and harmful to watersheds. He did a study and it was definitely found that horses were not a source of watershed contamination from cryptosporidium. He continues to do studies to refute the unfounded assertions about horses. Right now he is studying the genetic fingerprint, the DNA, of horse manure. He's assessing whether horse manure contains the e-coli 0157:h7 and he's assessing whether there are weed seeds in horse manure. People make these statements about perceived risks without any scientific data.

Heal the Bay made accusations, but they had no proof that manure came from up here and floated down the creek and ended up in the bay, or that it was bad if it did. Some soils and some waters inherently have levels of nutrients and bacteria that are higher than expected.

What do you see as the more significant environmental concerns right now in the mountains than horses?

While protection of the watersheds is an important factor, I think when they blame the contaminants of a watershed, the agencies and some of the organizations take all of them and they say, well let's see, the car is a necessity, so that would be the last thing that we're going to outlaw. We can't make people not have a septic system because they don't have sewers so we can't go after that, so let's see, where do we go? So I think by process of elimination as well as un-education and ignorance they choose, the horse.

How do you see the coastal planning process going in the county? Do you think the county will also expand the designated ESHAs?

The county I don't think will adopt it on purpose because their biologist Daryl Koutnik has already written a report about one instance in Topanga a couple weeks ago where Coastal was enforcing that the people were in an ESHA when actually in 1986 when the map was drawn, they were not in an ESHA. So Coastal Commission is overstepping whatever authority they had. They have empowered themselves. This ESHA designation is a crippling one and it's just designed to remove all traces of horses from any area where the Coastal Commission has oversight.

But aren't they really just trying to restrict development in these areas and protect the environment?

The Santa Monica Mountains is the only place where [the Coastal zone] is this far inland and I think it's wrong. There is nothing coastal about this. Everything has a cumulative impact, but I don't think Coastal should be in charge of the whole world. Yes this watershed drains into Coastal, but how far back do you go?

If it hadn't been for Coastal and the expansion to the five-mile limit, wouldn't there have been a lot more development?

So. So what? People can still have access to the beaches. There are lots of times those beaches, some of the beaches, are empty or have very few people on them. It's not like people are crowding and running to every beach.

I was thinking of the impacts of housing development. It seems like a safe course in general to have a restrictive approach.

Well the problem I have with that is people should be allowed to develop private property. They worked for their own money, or they acquired their money however they got it--it doesn't matter how they got it, it's their money and they don't have to share it with somebody else. If they want to develop it, they should be able to.

But what about the downstream impacts that they have on other people?

Then there has to be some mitigation measures so they do not impact neighbors.

What happens if the Malibu LCP does go through?

Oh there will be lawsuits, no question about it. And Coastal knows that so why don't they revise things and make life easier for people. Coastal is fighting the people with the people's money. A lot of the people who encourage Coastal, such as Sierra Club, do they live in their own homes on their own properties that would be affected, or are they more in apartments or condos or city living and just want to have that in case they want to go there?

Some of your Trails Council people don't live in the mountains, but they come and they take care of trails and many of the docents in Topanga don't live in Topanga. Aren't they actually environmentally doing something a little better than those of us who live in the mountains and do impact the mountains? They put their impacts somewhere else where there are sewers and things like that.

Everybody has an impact. Human life has an impact.

But if it was more intensely developed wouldn't it become less attractive to the general public?

That's right, but that's why it's saved as a National Recreation Area.

So there is a certain extent of regulation or restrictions that you do feel comfortable with as protection from over-development?

Yes, but development I don't have as much a problem with because to me the land dictates. Although money dictates too. But what I have a problem with is an instance say like the oak trees. Coastal doesn't want horses under oak trees in the shade. Come on! There is no study done to show that horses impact oak trees. Horses and cattle have been under oak trees, not 10 years, not a hundred years, but hundreds of years and all the sudden somebody comes up, some staff member there and says, "You know I don't think those animals should be under that beautiful oak tree."

Public money of $200 million was spent to acquire and purchase the lands in the SMMNRA and people need access to utilize those lands. There needs to be some facilities so that they are safe within it and can utilize it. Trails, trails facilities, campgrounds, visitor center, all those things.

What is your vision of what the National Recreation Area should be and the role of recreation in it?

The National Park Service, when they did their general management plan, there was nothing in there about private recreation and the private recreation providers and yet 54 percent of the National Recreation Area is privately owned and provides the recreation.

Also, there is no equestrian camp ground and yet this is a heavily used horse area. The only reason we have open space today is because the ranchers and farmers kept their lands in tact. All the places that have the names show that--Paramount Ranch, Danielson Ranch, Trippet Ranch, White Oak Farm.

But times are different now. How do you know the remaining properties today won't be sold and developed?

I deplore the people who have the drawbridge mentality. I have mine and nobody else is coming in here. These mountains are too sacred for anyone else except us. These resources can't handle any more people except us. I think that's a bad attitude. I think that development can be in keeping with the resources and the needs. I think there has to be a proper balance. I think the Coastal Commission has a lopsided approach. They just want to save everything for a museum mentality. Look at it, can't use it, can't touch it. The problem with Coastal Commission is, they're out of control, there's no accountability. They weren't voted in, so you can't throw them out. They were appointed. And the only way today that you get into government positions is if you're wealthy or if you're politically connected. The jobs have become very powerful and empowering. And I think there's a lot of selective enforcement. There are times when government has just become a legal mafia.

What are some examples of selective enforcement?

In Topanga and Monte Nido and other places in the county, Coastal Commission has been citing people for using their lands as their lands have been used for hundreds of years. And now Coastal Commission is saying no you can't do it like that anymore.

Because they want to build something else?

Or because somebody turns somebody in. They're mad at somebody for something.

You had your own battle here? Is that over?

No, it's not over. Somebody turned me in for boarding. So I said yes I board. And I'm under 5 acres so I cannot get a CUP, conditional use permit. I've boarded here for 20 years and many people have done it even longer. The county would come in and say you can't board and some people would say "OK then I won't" and they get rid of their boarders. Which means the people have to go somewhere else. Or they would be forced to lie and say well these are all my horses. So people were caught up. I finally said enough's enough. It's not illegal to board. The number of horses on property in LA county is appropriate, 8 horses per acre so I could have 24 horses here.

What is the status of the county ordinance now?

We sat down with the county and worked out what wording would conform to the practices now happening. Nowhere in the code does it say who has to own the horses, nowhere, and it shouldn't. We have worked with the county regional planning to revise how its written, changing a few words here and there so there is no misinterpretation down the road.

How do the agencies end up doing things like requiring oak trees to be fenced off?

There are always extremes in everything. There are always different interpretations. In some instances certain people in the county will look the other way if it doesn't affect a lot of people and they don't have time to bother with it. I'm sure that happens.

Now on the boarding issue, we brought it to the front, we wanted it to be resolved. Too many people have been affected by it because not everybody can keep a horse at home because of either where they live--a condo or apartment--or their work and lifestyle doesn't allow them to care for a horse. So they need to be able to board it, whether at a friend's place or commercial facility or whatever. Some people who have a horse are not near public trails and access and they don't have a horse trailer, so they need to be near where they can ride. So "backyard boarding" for want of a better term is a very important thing for the equestrian community throughout the county, all over. Thousands of people are involved in this.


Fire Safety Gels at Annual Meeting

By Susan Chasen

The Topanga Citizens' Firesafe Committee put on an interesting program May 11 featuring Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Dyer who offered pointers on how to assist firefighters before evacuating during a fire and how to respond if you're trapped.

Three other speakers addressed landscaping for fire safety; a free Fire Department consultation program, and the potential benefits of a fire-blocking gel product.

During a dramatic demonstration outside, a Barricade International Inc. dealer representative took a torch to a plank of plywood treated with the company's fire-blocking gel and couldn't get it to burn. With a fire engine standing by, an untreated plank was easily burned.

Firesafe chair David Totheroh offered opening remarks about the history and purpose of the Firesafe Committee.

The Firesafe annual public meeting at Topanga Elementary School was attended by about 40 residents and was timed to correspond with brush clearance time and fire season, which in this drought year is a special concern.

"This year we're going to have fires at times when we usually don't have them because everything's really dry," said Dyer.

He reminded everyone that evacuation is still the best policy in most cases. To prevent roads becoming congested, blocking fire and emergency vehicle access, he recommended several local evacuation points, including the Topanga Center, Topanga Elementary, Calmont, the Christian Fellowship Church, 1400 Bonnell Drive, Trippett Ranch and the Community House.

"The key is to keep people off the roads," said Dyer.

Before leaving, he said residents should fill up sinks, tubs and buckets with water because hydrants may not be working. Lights should be left on so the house will be visible through the smoke or darkness. Windows and doors should be closed and propane tanks shut off. If possible, he suggested leaving a ladder against the house. All houses should have "Class A" or non-combustible roofing. Also, cars need to be parked off the street so fire trucks can get through.

If trapped outside, he said, it's best to lie in a ditch face down with airways covered to avoid burn injuries that make breathing impossible. If trapped at home, it's best to stay inside to avoid temperatures four to five times hotter outside. Doors should be left unlocked.

Jean Laurin, spoke on behalf of Arnie White, a Barricade gel dealer in Riverside. She told how the tragedy of losing her home in an electrical fire made her a strong proponent of Barricade gel when she learned about it. According to Laurin, Barricade has never failed to save a home it was used on.

The fire-blocking gel was originally developed by a firefighter who noticed that a disposable diaper hadn't burned in a garbage can fire. Based on a similar chemistry, Barricade gel absorbs from 100 to 500 times its weight in water, creating a sticky thick water barrier that fire cannot burn off. It remains effective for 12 to 14 hours.

"This is something you apply when fire is imminent," said Laurin. "This is something you can do for yourself."

She said it is biodegradable and does not harm the environment. The gel agent creates a white foam when combined with water. It is sprayed on with an ordinary garden hose.

According to Laurin, home gel kits including seven 1.25 gallon containers of gel cost $400 to $450 and would protect 3,500 square feet of surface area.

In Topanga, water pressure and availability issues could complicate the effectiveness of the product. She did not know how much water is required or how long it takes to apply the foam. An associate suggested that with a fast moving fire, spraying only areas that are likely to trap burning embers, such as under eaves, may be sufficient.

According to Laurin, the city of Los Angeles' Fire Department is the top user of Barricade. But Dyer said he thought the city's use was still very limited, restricted to only two fire trucks.

According to Dyer, the product shows promise, but that brush clearance is still the number one priority.

"If you're not around to put this on, you can't put it on," said Dyer.

Totheroh gave a short recap of how the Firesafe Committee was formed out of local opposition to proposed Fire Department requirements, now abandoned, for widespread tree removals in the Canyon.

He said the committee has promoted cooperation between the community and the Fire Department for a reasonable and balanced approach to fire safety. He pointed out that irresponsible clearance of vegetation can create other problems such as erosion, which have to be considered in meeting fire safety goals.

"Community involvement on the front end...normally ends in consensus by the majority of stakeholders," said Totheroh.

Ventura County landscaper Curt Stiles offered advice on the safest plants for fire-prone areas like the Santa Monica Mountains. He said fire safety doesn't have to mean rock gardens and a few succulents, but it is a good idea to minimize the most flammable plants and create fuel breaks to prevent "fire ladders" leading to the house.

He offered a long list of trees and shrubs with some fire resistance. Some native species in the group include the Western Redbud, Mountain Mahogany, Coast Live Oak, Toyon, Coffeeberry and Sugarbush.

Scott Gardner, with the Fire Department Forestry Division reported on the free fire-safety consultation program called the 410-T. The program allows residents to request a visit from a forestry representative who will evaluate whether there are vegetation or structural fire hazards on their property.

The goal is to create a "defensible space," said Gardner. "We're not in the business of denuding properties."

To arrange for a 410-T consultation, call the brush clearance coordinator at (626) 969-2375 or Station 69 at (310) 455-1766.


Murman Steps Down at RCD

By Susan Chasen

With plans to return to her passion, which is urban agriculture, Margo Murman is stepping down as executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Resource Conservation District.

Murman, who has held the position for three years, said she is also making the change to be able to spend more time with her 88-year-old mother who lives in Glendale.

"I need to spend a lot more time with her," said Murman.

The RCD is currently drafting its 2002-'03 budget and it will be completed by June 30. Murman is planning to stay until the budget is completed.

Murman, who was a driving force in the battle to save the farm at Pierce College, said she expects to continue working with the RCD and would like to act as a liaison on urban agriculture issues between the district, Pierce College and the state Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The RCD board voted May 14 to create an urban-agriculture position, which she said she may be interested in applying for.

In any case, she said her involvement with Pierce College, as a current student and an advocate for agriculture education, and her relationship with the district will shape her plans for the future.

"Part of the district's goals are to offer services to the college," said Murman. "It has so much potential. It's a wonderful facility there."

Sustainable agriculture is a special interest and Pierce is doing interesting things in that area, she said.

Pierce offers workshops for landowners in the mountains, from gardening to niche farming which is becoming more prevalent, she said. Murman is currently taking a viticulture class herself at Pierce.

With over 200 careers available in the field of agriculture, said Murman, Pierce College provides an important service to the young people of Los Angeles who otherwise would never know these opportunities existed.

"I think it's important for people who live in an urban area to remember where their food comes from...and what is involved in raising our food."

Murman's affiliation with the RCD began more than 12 years ago and grew out of the RCD's involvement with Pierce and its support of preserving the college's 240-acre farm and agriculture program.

"It was a tough decision to make," said Murman of stepping down. "I really enjoy working for the district very much. But it was the right time."

Originally from Glendale, Murman lives just over the hill, in the Woodland Park mobile home community. She was the livestock manager for 10 years at the Leonis Adobe Museum which includes a working farm. She was also involved there in education programs and even drove the horse-drawn wagon.

She has four wool breed sheep at Pierce College, has learned to spin wool, but her experience has mostly been with the farming aspect of raising her sheep.


Topanga Bazaar Opens June 9

The Topanga Bazaar, a weekly free event with music, organic produce and artisan booths, is debuting Sunday June 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. behind the Topanga Center and the Topanga Creek General Store.

In addition to providing an ongoing opportunity for local craftspeople to sell their wares, the bazaar also means the return of a sorely missed produce market to the Canyon. It will also provide a new venue for Topanga musicians to perform.

"We're looking forward to having a wide variety of organic produce and other organic foods," said Francesca Lemus, who is the co-organizer of the bazaar with her husband Edwin.

"So people can do their shopping without having to leave the Canyon, it will be a place you can go with your family and have fun....It's a place where people can gather, meet their neighbors and enjoy a spirit of harmony and community."

Francesca and Edwin's other ventures through their New Native Productions include taking people to Guatemala on sacred journeys

For more information about the Topanga Bazaar, call (310) 455-3135.


Mother's Day Concert for Emilano

By Susan Chasen

It was a beautiful Mother's Day with several hundred turning out at the Theatricum Botanicum to hear Little Feat's acoustic duo Fred Tackett and Paul Barr¸re and to raise money for Emiliano Rocco Zapata's recovery fund.

The day arrived with a troubling turn in Emiliano's condition, but the concert proceeded anyway with a powerful, poignant mood as thoughts were joined in support of five-year-old Emiliano's struggle.

Nancy Maples, whose daughter Hali is a cancer survivor, encouraged the amphitheater crowd to imagine Emiliano in the future, even to imagine him attending his own child's wedding.

Eva Rocco, Emiliano's mother and the daughter of Frank and Marlene Rocco of Rocco's in the Canyon, said she was grateful to be part of such a wonderful community. She told the audience her son was a fighter and that the collective strength of everyone gathered together was helping them in their fight to be together.

"The event was beautiful, great and peaceful and loving and supportive," said Kristina Rocco Levy, Emiliano's aunt.

"My sister was amazing, she was so strong. She got very replenished from that gathering that day....It was extremely generous of the community."

According to Kristina, $15,000 was raised for Emiliano's Recovery Fund and money is still coming in.

As of May 22, Emiliano, who is at UCLA Medical Center, was being brought out of a coma that was induced 11 days earlier to relieve a dangerous buildup of pressure in the brain. Kristina said he was taken off the respirator, his eyes were opening and he was starting to look around.

"It's just a waiting game right now," said Kristina.

On May 10, two days before the concert, Emiliano was rushed to the hospital when he began losing consciousness. Emergency surgery was performed and a small piece of his skull removed to help relieve pressure in his brain, according to Kristina. The next day, when the pressure continued to increase, a coma was induced to allow time for the pressure to subside.

Emiliano was originally operated on to remove a brain tumor in October. He began radiation therapy in April to destroy portions of the cancer that could not be removed by surgery. Kristina said doctors are planning to resume radiation in June.

In addition to Rocco's donating food for the concert and Rocco's staff volunteering to help, Kristina expressed her thanks for many others who contributed to the event--musicians Tackett and Barr¸re as well as Dominique Genova who played the double bass and singer Inara George; the Geer family who donated use of the Theatricum; Theatricum board member Patricia Tackett, Theatricum business manager Jennifer Beale and Elizabeth George who coordinated the event with the Theatricum and brought together the performers; Mark Gander and Company sound engineers; Allen Emerson whose Arson Watch team provided security, and the McPherson family and friends who came up from San Diego to help out.


Town Council Rewards 'Do-Gooders'

Do-Gooder recipients Kathie Gibboney, Paulette Messenheimer and Linda Gintowt with Town Council treasurer Victor Richards at Abuelitas awards ceremony.

By Kathie Gibboney

Upstairs at Abuelitas on a warm May evening was a special gathering representing a cross-section of Topanga, and proud I was to be among them. The conclave took place at the invitation of the Topanga Town Council that was benevolently bestowing Do-Gooder Awards on five who have done good.

Presented by the charismatic council president Dale Robinette to Linda Gintowt was a certificate and check for $500 for her fundraising for art and theater classes at Topanga Elementary School.

Another worthy recipient was that every busy and on alert, Allen Emerson, for his unfailing devotion to the Arson Watch program.

Long-time Topanga presence Paulette Messenheimer was recognized again for heading the after-school STAR program at Topanga Elementary and for her contribution to the Topanga Youth Services and their ongoing activities at the Community House.

Kathie Gibboney, who perhaps thought she was there to receive an Academy Award, decked out in rhinestone earrings and black evening gloves, in fact could not have been prouder of her Do-Gooder award for teaching children an original series of character-development classes called "Do the Right Thing."

The final honorees could not be present in the flesh but their productive presence was felt, as the very room in which we sat was their original creation, now successfully morphed into upstairs at Abuelitas. Steve and Leslie Carlson are an integral part of Topanga. Yes, there has been some controversy over their development of Pine Tree Circle, but it was there our community gathered in force to share the loss and sadness of September 11. And it was there Steve Carlson encouraged and underwrote a summer fundraiser for the Topanga Arts Program. And it was there that my daughter first saw snow on a winter night. The Town Council feels that the Carlsons are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted because a lot of what they contribute is behind the scenes, and Leslie is one of those rare ladies of modest nature. The Town Council knows their value.

Other Council members in supportive attendance were Leigh Bloom of Mail & Message, the gracious Anthony Hall of hella bella and Topanga architect Manfred Schlosser, who observed, "The children you are guiding are tomorrow's Town Council."

The esteemed senior member was gentleman and Council treasurer Victor Richards, a past recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award.

The Do-Gooders have been presented annually for the past five years. Deserving citizens may be nominated in January.

I hereby thank the entire Council for its worthy encouragement in the often unsung but heartening practice of doing good.


CDC Returns June 6, Funding Pie Served

The return of the county Community Development Commission is scheduled for Thursday June 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community House. And this time it's true. Unfortunately, the meeting was previously reported as scheduled for May 16. It was postponed because it conflicted with another Topanga meeting and word came too late to make it into the Messenger.

At the meeting, the Commission will report on its 2002-03 Action Plan for projects funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. One local project that receives funding in the plan is Topanga Youth Services which will receive $15,877.

Although the Action Plan is expected to have been approved by the Board of Supervisors before the Topanga meeting, there will be other opportunities to apply for funding throughout the year and these will also be discussed at the meeting.

"The spring meetings are a follow up to meetings in the fall," said Diann Viox, acting manager of the county Community Development Block Grant Division. "We'll be there to provide information related to the needs that were discussed at the fall meeting."

She said the commission staff has researched the top three needs that were discussed in the fall workshop groups to determine possible sources of funding, whether through the commission or through other sources.

According to Viox, CDBG funding is divided among the county supervisorial districts based on population, poverty and housing overcrowding formulas. As a result, relatively little goes to the more affluent third district. For 2002-03, the third district will receive $172,206.


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