County Will Hold Two Public Hearings On Dividing SMMUSD Into 7 Voting Districts, Malibu Lawyer Advocates For 2 Seats

Written by on January 19, 2024

As KBUU News reported yesterday … some sort of action if happening behind closed doors in the divorce battle between Santa Monica and Malibu over the school district that both unites and divides the two communities.

The Malibu city council has scheduled a closed door session next Monday to discuss its litigation against Santa Monica.

And now comes news that a county commission will open hearings late in two weeks … on a petition to split the existing two-city school district up into seven voting districts … each with one board member.

The petition … from Malibu activist and attorney Kevin Shenkman .. also has a set of maps for the proposed districts.

Shenkman hired a demographer … who determined that Malibu would be entitled to 1.2 voting districts.

Putting all of Malibu in one district would see 89 percent of the Malibu in one district … and the other 11 percent of the city in a Santa Moncia-dominated district.  That would mean those Malibu voters would be relegated to a district that is overwhelmingly Santa Monica voters – the same lack of influence they have suffered in the at-large election system now used.

So the demographer drew a map with Malibu in two districts … both districts wpouild have a majority of their voters in Malibu … and some in residents in Santa Monica. 

Naturally … Santa Monica’s board members object to that.   They say there the proposed maps would illegally split Santa Monica voters into districts that are in two different cities, dominated by Malibu.

That … of course .. is the whole reason that Malibu is seeking a separate school district.

Their opposition to voting by district is is rooted in the fact that the current five member majority controlling the school board all live in houses in the same Santa Monica neighborhood.

The county commission will consider the Malibu requests at 2 hearings.

One … Wed jan 31st … in the evening at Santa Monica College’s Malibu campus.

The other hearing will be Saturday Feb 10th in the morning … at the Santa Monica school board headquarters in downtown Santa Monica. 

One note …. our former county supervisor Sheila Kuehl stacked the deck against Malibu.

There are 11 members on the L A County Committee that will make this decision.

Kuehl got to appoint two of them … and they are both former Santa Monica school board members with close political ties to the current board majority.

Those two committee members … Barry Snell and Ralph Mechur … have already voted against a entirely separate Malibu school district.

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