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WLV Approves MOU, LVMWD Director Files Complaint with District Attorney

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Earlier this week, the Westlake Village City Council approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the City and LVMWD on the 5MG tank. This agreement adds a series of conditions to improve safety for the project (despite most of the council members citing that there was really no way to make it safe in Three Springs).

Also this week, it's now been revealed that the water district's Director Steinhardt has filed a complaint with the Los Angeles District attorney citing multiple violations of the LVMWD code and procedures for the agenda and voting process, Brown Act violations, and that in short, the vote to approve the tank was not a legal vote. (Ed. Note: Having read the few simples sentences which make up this part of the code, and witnessed the multiple violations in person, it does appear that Director Steinhardt has a case.)

Despite a packed room and a number of speakers, Mayor Rutherford noted that no one spoke in favor of the project. And, in his 16 year tenure, he believes that's the first time that's ever happened. The comments from residents about the tank ran a wide gamut of criticisms.

Among other items, Three Springs residents found that concrete truck pouring days were reduced, but the number of trucks was increased to as much as 65 per day (130 trips total as they go in, and then back out).

The largest surprise of the room is when the public found out, for the very first time, the water district plans on blasting every day for 6 weeks. As required by law, each time they blast, there will be a loud siren to warn that a blast is about to occur.

Councilman Brad Halpern made a motion that the City both move forward with the MOU, as well as instruct the City Attorney to file an injunction to stop or delay the project. That was supported by Sue McSweeney. But, ultimately, the motion was defeated 3-2.

The city's video of the meeting is currently not available due to a technical issue, but those interested may want to watch and listen for themselves. It's very difficult to capture the reasons for the vote well -- but to avoid questions, here are some quotes from the council members here.

Brad Halpern, "I see value in having the MOU ... but it's clear to me that quite
a bit of lack of disclosure" and "If we don't step up to protect one of our
neighborhoods, then who will?"

Ned Davis, he "The issue of it's the responsibility of a councilmember keeping
residents safe is very serious responsibility. And, I feel very conflicted
between the people have a sense that this is going to be ok, and it's going to
work, and those people that are just absolutely, scared to death about it...
This is our only shot at not burying our head in the sand ... and hope they go
away. Or, we can put some teeth in an agreement." He later continued "The
optimist finds the opportunity in the difficulty.... We need a net, and I think
the MOU is that net."

Sue McSweeney, "Nobody in their right mind would use Three Springs for a large
construction project."

Philippa Klessig, "I think everyone knows that I'm not so against the tank. I
don't have some of the fears you do."

Mark Rutherford, "I wish that you would understand what Three Springs is ...
And, maybe if you were really hearing all that, there would be a different
decision by the Board." and "In 16 years, I can't recall any time that everyone
testified in one way, and I can't do a damn thing about it. And, that is
terribly frustrating."

Again, it would be better to hear all they say rather than a few quotes, and once the video is available again, you may want to watch that at http://wlv.org

Following the first vote, the MOU was approved in a 4-1 vote with only Sue McSweeney voting against it.

It's not over, yet.

After the meeting, opponents of the tank project, working in a variety of different ways, seem to agree on one thing: their fight is far from over. This includes a few primary fronts:

Westlake Revelations readers have been asking about the impending Recall efforts. Louis Masry told Westlake Revelations this weekend, the "We wanted to give LVMWD Directors every chance to change their mind. In the mean time, we've been planning out the recall effort to make sure it's done right. The recall is moving forward -- the community deserves it."

The "Concerned Citizens of LVMWD" have released another "THINK Conserve Water. Don't tank it!" campaign and continues to raise funds to promote this message. See http://lvmwd-concerned-citizens.com

The complaint from a LVMWD Board Member is now with the District Attorney. More details to emerge.