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“It’s a joke,” Point Dume resident and lifelong Paradise Cove swimmer, surfer and diver Skylar Peak tells L.A. Weekly. “Dahlberg does whatever he wants to and he always gets away with it. I don’t understand why he can pollute our oceans and not have to pay a price that hurts. ... Fifty-four grand is a joke to this guy.”
Gold, meanwhile, went from being ecstatic to outraged. “Unfortunately, this decision says that pollution pays. He missed deadlines, broke promises and got away with it — and saved himself more than a million and a half dollars in the process.”
The final decision by the water board was the result, Gold said, of failures by the board’s staff to issue cease-and-desist and abatement orders, along with the time-schedule orders for completing the treatment plant and other mitigations. That failure by the water board staff made the time schedule orders unenforceable. So far, the water board has kept mum on how its staff blew such a routine piece of paperwork.
“It’s important that people understand that there’s no dispute on the facts of the case here,” Gold says. “This is like a serial felon getting off on a technicality.”
Tracy Egoscue, executive officer of the water board, declined to discuss the staff’s administrative performance, which allowed Dahlberg to escape serious punishment. “In case there’s an appeal to the state water board, the regional board doesn’t want to comment publicly,” says board spokesman Steve Cain.
Gold says Heal the Bay has decided in recent days to appeal the decision, even though such appeals rarely succeed.
Peak, the well-known Malibu waterman, says the regional water board’s mystifying lack of oversight just adds to his frustration with Dahlberg and the callous way he has treated the Pacific Ocean and nearby creek at the unique site.
“I still don’t let my kids go in the water there. It’s always murky there, right where the creek comes out,” Peak says. “What I really don’t understand is why someone like Dahlberg, who surfs himself, wouldn’t do everything in his power to make the ocean clean. ... The only answer I can venture is greed and money.”
Roger Goldengay, the former president of the Paradise Cove Homeowners Association who led a successful class-action lawsuit against Kissel Co., says he is uniquely qualified to answer that question after living there for 20 years with his wife, Dr. Carol Otis, who worked in the Malibu Critical Care Center and treated sick surfers and swimmers.
They say they left for Portland, Oregon, in 2000, because they were so frustrated by Dahlberg’s refusal to fix the pollution problems at what should have been an idyllic location. The key evidence in the lawsuit was videotape Goldengay took of children walking through raw sewage.
“He’s vindictive, malicious, and he retaliates against anybody who tries to oppose him,” Goldengay declares of Dahlberg. “I’m a landlord myself, and if I behaved like this, I’d be in jail. Here in Portland, they’ll arrest you if you let storm water run off your property. But in Malibu they just let Steve Dahlberg get away with putting shit in the ocean for all those years he stalled on building a treatment plant.”
Note: Story is updated with Heal the Bay's decision to appeal the water board's decision.
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