Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner runs a very traditional surf shop in Malibu. He sells all you need to go to the beach and go surfing, but that's it. No magazines, no surf videos, just the basics: trunks, bikinis, wetsuits, surfboards, wax, leashes, sun hats. And he rents kayaks. Jay opened Zuma Jay Surf Shop in 1975, but over the years he has been a County Sheriff, a Marlboro Man and one of the top explosive effects and gun specialists in Hollywood – he wrote the Movie Industry Firearms Safety manual for the Screen Actor's Guild. Jay has worn many hats in his time, and now he is sizing up wearing the powdered wig of a politician, as he campaigns for one of five seats on the Malibu City Council election, to be held April 8th
“But money isn’t the point. Protecting and preserving Malibu is the point.”
Malibu is a small town of only 13,000 people, but it’s hard to imagine a small town that has more going on. Politically, Malibu is similar to the North Shore of Oahu in that the city and its citizens very often line up on opposite sides of issues involving traffic, development, clean water and quality of life. As a lifelong surfer and Malibu resident since 1975, Zuma Jay is running on that side of the line that will preserve Malibu as it is and as it has been – one of the last best places in Southern California, and one that has resisted the creeping fungus of condominium, strip mall mania and development that infests almost every other coastal city from Imperial Beach to Goleta.
This could be a very long conversation about all the issues Malibu faces, and where you stand on them, but what would you say are the foundation planks in your campaign for City Council?
The Pier, water quality, and density.
It seems to me the city of Malibu has done a lot for water quality. They have raised tens of millions of dollars to buy the Chili Cookoff area in the middle of town. They built the storm water runoff treatment facility and they just did a big renovation to the parking lot at Third Point.
Well the Third Point parking lot renovation is a State project.
My point is, any other city would have developed the Chili Cook Off property and put a CostCo on that big lot, or built the SurfRider Pointe condos and collected property taxes. Malibu seems dedicated to water quality.
And yet we still get failing grades at Surfrider Beach, all year around at different times depending on the tides and the water flow from upstream contributing, the local housing in the area also contributing and no one willing to identify the local housing as a source.
I wonder if it's possible to determine how much of the pollution in Malibu Lagoon is from storm water runoff, how much is from septic tanks and how much of the septic tank pollution is from homes and how much from businesses.
They have done water testing to see how much of the fecal pollution is animal and which is human. You would have to take core samples but that can be done. I saw them doing exactly that at Camp Pendleton when the fight over the Toll Road was going on. They drill down 60 to 70 feet, and they can tell you exactly where the water is coming from, and where the pollution is coming from. You could do that at the Lagoon and in the Civic Center area and find out where the pollutants are coming from and who is contributing the greatest amount. There are a couple of malls over there and we know they are contributing the greatest amount because there is no one else there. Look into what the new tenant of the old lumber yard, Richard Weintraub, is going through to remodel the city's property.
And what did they just do at the Third Point parking lot? Did they tear that all up to put in a treatment facility?
No – they did that to reduce the size of the human footprint there, and increase the size of the lagoon. You'd have to do the research but I think they reduced the size of the parking lot by anywhere from 10 to 25 per cent, and left more room for the lagoon. They also reduced the encroachment of non-indigenous plants, including the ficus tree I planted during the 1984 Olympics.
Well that’s a positive thing. That must have cost millions to do all that work.
I think it is a positive thing. It might not be visitor serving but guess what, the animals that live in the lagoon are also visitors. But you have to understand that was the California State Parks that did that.
So you still don't think Malibu does enough to protect the water quality? The way I understand it is Malibu incorporated in 1991, partially to block a sewage system. Because all of Malibu is on septic, that limits to the amount of growth, but those septic systems pollute Malibu Creek, and the ocean.
The City has done some things, but I don't think it's done enough and it's always so little so late.