Legal questions are being raised about the Malibu Planning Commission.
Attorney Ann Ravel wrote a letter to the Malibu City Council in September accusing two planning commissioners of breaking California FPPC Regulations on the Financial Conflict of Interest rule.
Commissioners Skylar Peak and Dennis Smith are the two in question — being questioned for serving on the commission while also working as contractors in Malibu.
“All the people of this state should be concerned about it [the conflict of interest accusations],” Ravel said.
Ravel said she previously served as the chair of the California Policies Fair Practices Commission, and Former President Barack Obama appointed her to the Federal Election Commission. She is also a professor at Berkeley Law.
“She’s [Ravel is] an expert on financial conflict of interest laws,” Planning Commissioner Kraig Hill said.
Peak and Smith are both voting on issues related to development projects, and as contractors, those issues could be contributing or detracting from their own personal financial gain — creating a conflict of interest, Ravel said.
Former Mayor Bruce Silverstein, also an attorney, said having the two commissioners vote on issues relating to their work could be putting the city in danger.
“The mere fact that somebody’s livelihood depends on development or contracting promotes conflict of interest,” Silverstein said.
The Planning Commission discussed the letter at their Oct. 2 meeting, but the two commissioners did not think there was a problem.
“I don’t see the conflict you are alleging at all,” Peak said.
And, the commissioners said they value their service to the community over their own financial gain.
“The honor of sitting up here and being chosen is way over me trying to get some work,” Smith said. “It’s kind of funny they think that.”
The City assured the Commission they will look into Ravel’s letter and answer it.
“This is not something we take lightly,” Assistant City Attorney Pat Donegan said.
Meanwhile, the City Council addressed the issue at their meeting Sept. 25, and said they would also be investigating the accusations with the intention of making sure they are accurate and valid.
“If she does come out to be correct, we are going to look really bad,” Mayor Steve Uhring said.
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