Calabasas City Council Election – Nov. 8, 2022. Would the real David Shapiro please stand up?

CELEBRATE—Calabasas City Council members Fred Gaines, left, and David Shapiro join city manager Gary Lysik on the dance floor during the city’s almost $50,000 holiday party at private Calamigos Ranch. Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo. Excerpted from the Acorn Newspaper — June 6/19 — Calabasas City Council members Fred Gaines, left, and David Shapiro join city manager Gary Lysik on the dance floor during the city’s almost $50,000 holiday party at private Calamigos Ranch. Calabasas spent $49,450 on a holiday and awards party that was budgeted for a quarter of that amount, and some members of the City Council voiced concern that the party—the city’s annual year-end fête that was held Jan. 5 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu—might have been too lavish for a government staff that represents a community of only 24,000 people.

City’s holiday party bashed – the Acorn Newspaper:

Would the real David Shapiro please stand up?

Calabasas voters go to the polls on November 8, 2022 — to elect among other things, three Councilmembers. David Shapiro, who is running for re-election, appears to have bewitched or shall we say, hoodwinked the sense and integrity out of people who know better. Or perhaps they just think because they say so, others might follow along. No one who has followed politics in this city can even pretend (unless personal gain is a factor?) otherwise. And, residents who have not been particularly active should not take anyone’s word for it, or take anything for granted. Get the facts, look at Shapiro’s history, and make an informed decision.

His track record is dismal. That is a fact. He has opposed the residents and he has voted continuously to support inappropriate development. He has been stuck like glue to the pro-development attorney former Councilmember Fred Gaines for years and together they formed a voting block duo (that is a fact) wreaking seemingly irreparable damage to the residents of this city. Preserve Calabasas will pull up the voting records, the measure(s), and the facts, and outline them here.

There is also no place for cronyism in this election.

Lest we forget:

Let’s start off with this report from the Acorn newspaper April 1, 2021

As excerpted: “Lysik was not the only one held responsible for mismanagement. Shapiro was also named in the Rubin complaint for abuse of power.

City records show Shapiro, then the mayor, authorized the spending of more than $35,000 on the city’s 2019 Dodger’s Night event, more than twice the amount budgeted. He was alleged to have chosen a more expensive Friday night game as a gift to Calabasas residents so his daughter, an accomplished saxophonist, could play the national anthem in front of a larger crowd.”

So, Who is Advocating for More Housing in Calabasas?

The entire city of Calabasas is encompassed in and so designated a VERY HIGH FIRE HAZARD SEVERITY ZONE.

Despite this, some people who also advocated strongly against AvalonBay and proponents who argued for the affordable housing RHNA contribution it made — are contrarily now seemingly trying to justify building RHNA housing allocations under several labels including “controlled growth”, “responsible development”, etc. Truth is stranger than fiction. The fact is Measure N was resoundingly defeated by Calabasas voters – NO on Measure N garnered a staggering 78.17% of the vote, and YES 21.83%.

We are all aware of RHNA and the draft allocations that Calabasas has been given — 353 units. And we also know after talking to SCAG that starting on Sept. 11 — these numbers can be appealed. So, what are the city’s intentions — and are they appealing? What is the position of the 4 candidates running for our 2 City Council seats? Are they pushing to do exactly that and what else?

[*We will publish their positions on housing on this site shortly.]

If any city has cause for appeal, it is Calabasas. Furthermore, legislation like SB 182 which is on the governor’s desk and SB 474 which is still in Committee recognize that building in these VHFHSZ’s is a threat to public safety and to our environment and wildlife — and that urban sprawl and must be banned, nevermind increasing density…..

This is Steve Lopez’s article from the L.A. Times yesterday —

Raging fires. Fleeing residents. Exploding buildings.

It’s another apocalyptic summer of record heat and unchecked, monster infernos in California. The death toll from it all had topped 20 by Friday and some of the biggest blazes in state history were still raging out of control, with strong winds at their backs. In Southern California, you can taste the acrid, smoky air, but you can’t see through it. The worst smog in 26 years was recorded in downtown Los Angeles a few days ago.

And we’re still a ways off from the peak of traditional fire season.

As with our oppressive pandemic gloom, we can tell ourselves that this, too, shall pass. But it’s harder than ever to believe it, and easier to wonder if it’s already too late for California to avoid these annual cycles of devastation.
Californians, the nation’s leaders on environmental awareness and climate change, can’t breathe.

Beach-goers wade in the water as the sun and sky are partially obscured with ash and smoke. Beach-goers wade in the water at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach as the sun and sky are partially obscured with ash and smoke from Southland wildfires.
And it’s partly our own fault.

When you have so many people living tight up against combustible open spaces, after decades of planning and regulatory debacles, it doesn’t matter how many turbines, solar panels and Teslas you have. The state is in some ways built to burn, and climate change is putting a match to the kindling.

No one understands that better than retired climatologist Bill Patzert, who spent decades at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory studying and warning the public about the impact of climate change. When I caught up with him on Friday to ask what he makes of our current troubles, he had troubles of his own.

He had a bag packed and his car was parked facing the street, in case the Bobcat fire burning in the San Gabriels turned his way and he had to make a quick getaway.

“I’m good to go,” Patzert said.

Patzert’s research focused on the solar system, the atmosphere and the oceans. He became a go-to expert on weather patterns such as El Niño and La Niña, and the relationship between sea level rise — another great threat to millions of people and jobs in California — and global warming.

In January, over a cup of coffee in Sierra Madre, Patzert told me we were closing in on a time when it wouldn’t be uncommon for the temperature to hit 115 degrees in Pasadena.

No surprise, I thought to myself. Given the way records have fallen each year across the state, that could be possible a few years down the road.
But last Sunday, the temperature in Pasadena came to within a degree of Patzert’s call, with a record 114 degrees. Record highs were also set in Northridge (120), Winnetka (122), Beverly Hills (118), Ojai (118), Solvang (122), Arroyo Grande (117) and Santa Ana (110). It’s as if Palm Springs weather creeps another 10 miles west each year.

With all the heat and heavy smoke, it’s been nice to have masks at the ready. But through the dirty orange air of dusk, if you were to venture outdoors, you might prefer one of those goggled, snouted gas masks people wore a half century ago for the smog. In old photos, it looks like aardvarks roamed city streets.

“Look, we’re living in a warmer world,” Patzert told me Friday in a tone of utter inevitability. “Especially in Southern California.”

Patzert gave me a refresher on the concept of heat islands, noting the massive migration of people to California in the last half of the 20th century from the Midwest and East Coast.

“We’ve created this essentially 20-million-person megalopolis which creates its own heat, especially in summertime,” Patzert said. The heat is generated by housing developments, air conditioners and miles of asphalt traveled by millions of vehicles. “So the average temperature is about eight to nine degrees higher than it was in the early part of the 20th century.”

I asked him, hopefully, whether perhaps we’ve plateaued.

“It’s just the opposite,” he said, predicting annual record-setting temperatures as the new normal.

Growth was, for decades, a strength in California. People came for work and weather, they contributed, the state grew into the world’s fifth-largest economy. It’s understandable that more and more people wanted a piece of the dream, and to be generous, it’s understandable that towns and cities wanted to accommodate them.

But sprawl meant danger, and when Patzert looks at a map of California, he sees far too many people living in unsafe areas, in houses built with materials not designed to withstand fire.

“California has always had fire, it’s a natural part of the ecosystem,” Patzert said. “But in Northern California especially, so many people have moved” too close to dangerous wilderness areas, with communities such as Paradise paying with the lives of its residents.

In Southern California, Patzert said, massive communities have been built in corridors known for Santa Ana winds, which are even deadlier in drought cycles, when vegetation is as combustible as gasoline.

“You’ve got one big wind corridor all the way from Palmdale to Oxnard,” Patzert said.

“Another aspect is that 16 out of the last 20 years we’ve had below-normal rainfall in Southern California. So by the end of summer, we’re set up for fire. And as you know, Ventura County in the 1970s had only 125,000 people and now it’s almost 900,000. San Diego’s population has grown since the ‘50s by a factor of six, and average rainfall there is 10 inches.”

More people and less water don’t do much for dreams of a sustainable future, whether you’re talking about drinking water or irrigation. When I set out a couple of months ago to research the impact of climate change on California’s $40-billion wine industry, Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyard told me water tables in the Paso Robles area are being depleted, making it all the more important to develop dry-farming techniques.

Daniele Zaccaria, a water management specialist at UC Davis, said growers of all crops are wrestling with the unpredictable weather — too cold or too hot, too wet or too dry — that is associated with climate change.

“We’re seeing extreme swings from one year to another, and it’s visible in both temperature and the amount of water available,” said Zaccaria, who thinks farmers have to retool to get by with less water and accept that annual yields might fluctuate.

In many ways, the state I grew up in is not the state I live in today.

There’s less coastal fog, more sun, more variation.

I was in Malibu last weekend, expecting a break in the heat, and the temperature was in the 90s.

I got home, 20 miles inland, to find that 114 degrees will burn the leaves of your avocado tree to a crisp.

Weather is not climate, but the changes in its patterns over time are frightening. Can California turn it around? I don’t know, but is there any option other than to try?

We all need to think about how we live, what we consume and how we get around.

Any more development in high-risk fire zones has to be treated as a criminal act.

Another crime, at a time when climate change deniers have risen to power, would be to forget the most important thing anyone can do.


Upcoming Election Nov. 3

There are 2 City Council seats up for grabs this November. Mayor Alicia Weintraub’s seat and Fred Gaines‘ seat. He is not running again. Four candidates will by vying for those two seats.

The two new candidates who have filed to run are Peter Kraut and Susan Fredericks-Ploussard. Peter is a resident of Saratoga Hills and a Calabasas Planning Commissioner. Peter also sat on the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) several years ago. Susan Fredericks-Ploussard is a dentist who has an impressive resume. She is passionate about the environment and preserving our city’s open spaces and quality of life for residents. A third candidate, Dennis Washburn, has also qualified to run again.

Mayor Alicia Weintraub is running to keep her seat for another 4 year term. She has done a very good job of responding to the concerns and issues of her constituents, and has been an effective leader in this Covid-9 Crisis.

Calabasas LEAP Grant Application

Excerpted from the California Department of Housing and Community Development:

Local Early Action Planning Grants (LEAP)

Increasing the availability of affordable homes statewide is critical to bettering the quality of life of all Californians and to ending homelessness. In the 2019-20 Budget Act, Governor Gavin Newsom allocated $250 million for all regions, cities, and counties to do their part by prioritizing planning activities that accelerate housing production to meet identified needs of every community. With this allocation, HCD established the Local Early Action Planning Grant Program (LEAP) with $119 million for cities and counties. LEAP provides one-time grant funding to cities and counties to update their planning documents and implement process improvements that will facilitate the acceleration of housing production and help local govts. prepare for their 6th cycle RHNA much like the SB2 Planning Grants.”

The 2019-20 Budget Act provides a spectrum of support, incentives, resources, and accountability to meet California’s housing goals. Some specific elements include:

-Local and regional planning grants (LEAP and REAP)
-Prohousing preference points on competitive funding applications
-Additional funding resources
-Accountability (penalties for noncompliant housing plans)
-Reform (collaborative processes to reform regional housing needs)
-For regional governments and entities, funding is available through the –Regional Early Action Planning Grants (REAP). For more information, please visit the Regional Early Action Planning Grant Webpage.

The Local Action Planning Grants (LEAP), provides over-the-counter grants complemented with technical assistance to local governments for the preparation and adoption of planning documents, and process improvements that:

  • Accelerate housing production
  • Facilitate compliance to implement the sixth-cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

We do not support applying for a LEAP grant that would commit the city to upzone, rezone, or bypass CEQA to qualify.

RHNA Allocations

SCAG will not formally be announcing the final 6th Cycle RHNA number allocations for several months. However, they have determined the following estimates for Calabasas:


353 Total

131 – very low
70 – low
70 – moderate
82 – above moderate

There will be an official appeal period.

History Preserve Calabasas

Old Topanga resident Toby Keeler, and Calabasas Highlands residents Liz Stephens and Bob Benson, founded Preserve Calabasas in 2007 initially to prevent the city from installing a stoplight at Headwaters Corner and thwart an urban intrusion into the rural community. 

Calabasas’ rural community was also significantly hillside/mountainous zoned, beautiful and unique. Fighting Viewpoint school’s commercial expansion during the second phase of the MOU — and fighting to protect ridgelines and other natural resource protective policies during the General Plan GPAC deliberations were battles also undertaken.

Liz Stephens
Toby Keeler

Toby Keeler and Liz Stephens were long time Federation delegates and activists fighting to preserve all of the Santa Monica Mountains – including our COG cities.

The Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation, Inc., has always played a significant role in fighting to protect the spectacular natural beauty of the city of Calabasas since its incorporation in 1991. And Preserve Calabasas was a natural component to absorb. Quality of life has always been one of the most important goals of the electorate.

It was the Measure N battle last year (2019), that attracted extra special attention for several reasons. A billion dollar real estate investment company AvalonBay, manufactured its own affordable housing crisis to enable themselves to build 161 new market rate units — when they were entitled to none. It was a precedent setting scheme that would have bypassed public input and the Planning Commission process in Calabasas entirely.

Measure N went down in flames — final votes tabulated were NO – 78.02% and YES – 21.98%.

Adding to this, the city is currently undergoing a Housing Element Update — and warrants special attention — as they are reviewing ridgeline, grading, and hillside policies and zoning — and looking at potentially up-zoning to accommodate the purported 6th Cycle RHNA numbers. These could have the potential to change the landscape and face of Calabasas permanently.

The entire city of Calabasas lies in a very high fire severity zone. RHNA allocations should be challenged (not just accommodated) based on many legitimate factors — including public safety, landscape constraints, location, conservation, urban sprawl, and upcoming state legislation.

There is no place for added dangerous density in the wildland-urban interface.

A t-shirt from 2007.