KBUU NEWS Wed Sept 21 – Villanueva Told To Immediately Freeze Criminal Probe Into Kuehl – Recent Rains Only ‘Knocked Dust Off The Fuel’ – Stern Carries Woolsey Fire Income Tax Break To Gov’s Desk – Small Quake Right Under Trancas

Written by on September 21, 2022

State AG Orders Villanueva To Stop Probe Into Kuehl, Order Computer Search To Be Stopped 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been ordered to freeze his controversial criminal investigation into his political enemies … freeze it now … and hand everything over to the state Attorney General’s office.

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta yesterday seized control of the probe over allegations from a disgruntled …. Fired Metro employee against County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and one of her appointments to the Civilian Oversight Commission … which under state law is supposed to oversee the sheriff and his department.

The A-G ordered the sheriff’s department to immediately stop going through the computers that it seized last week at the homes of Kuehl and at Metro.

And a judge yesterday ordered the sheriff’s office to stop looking through the computers as well.

The L A Times … quoting sources … say that the sheriff had authorized his Political Corruption Unit to work all last weekend on overtime to cull through the computers.

Last week … Villanueva asked the state A-G to investigate how Sheila Kuehl got tipped off that his office was going to raid her house.

The sheriff got more than he bargained for.

Yesterday ,,, the A-G agreed to look into the tip. .. at there same time that he took the case away from Villanueva.

Tomorrow …. The judge who had been overseeing the sheriff’s investigation into Kuehl will hold a hearing to ask why the county bypassed him … and went to a different judge to get the search warrants that were executed last week at Kuehl’s house. 

That second judge … it turns out … has some sort of longstanding personal relationship with the sheriff’s detective who pulled the warrants. 

Villanueva has promised to recuse himself from the investigation … but has been giving interviews to Fox News about it. 

The state A-G has now ordered the sheriff to stop making public comments about the probe.

Of course… all this is happening in the middle of Alex Villanueva’s re-election campaign. He finished with only 34% of the vote in the primary election… And unusually low figure for a income and Sheriff an incumbent sheriff. Tonight at six… Villanueva will debate his opponent… Retired Long Beach police chief Robert Luna. That debate can be heard on KPCC radio and its Internet site… Tonight at six.


Recent Rains Only ‘Knocked Dust Off The Fuel’ As Fire Danger Increases

This year’s extreme drought has sent fire danger up towards the critical level right on schedule. 

The fuel moisture content… The amount of water absorbed by plants right now… In the Santa Monica Mountains is at 63.

The recent rainstorms are nowhere near enough to put a dent into that … according to fire experts.

First … they came right after a record setting heat wave.

Tropical Storm Kay dropped less than a half inch of rain in the Santa Monica Mountains … and L A County Assistant Fire Chief Drew Smith says that’s not nearly enough to end the fire danger. 


“We did get some precip … but if we don’t get two inches of rain spread out through three days or greater it really just knocks the dust off the fuel … or the fuels will absorb what precip they get but over the course of the lag time it’ll dry out and it’s really mother nature’s sponge.”

Last week … the assistant fire chief answered questions at a community seminar.

He described how the county pre-positions strike teams … trucks and people … when they get a forecast of Santa Ana winds.

One of the biggest and heaviest tools … he says. … are the 10 L A County fire bulldozers.


“For you where we put a bulldozer is at two different locations:

“One will be out on the 101 side … and then the other one would be on the other side of the of the tunnels let’s say …  we’ll put it at Camp 13 which is on Encinal Canyon .. so we are ahead of that with our dozers … because I’m sure you all know … they don’t move fast.

“So we will tactically deploy them …. And will will have one of them on the coastal side to deploy and we will have one on the inland side to deploy.”

The pre-deployment of bulldozers is accompanied by moving fire trucks and 25 firefighters into the Santa Monica Mountains area … ready to attack smaller fires.

Brushfires that Destroy large numbers of homes in Malibu are historically the big ones. … the ones where LA County simply runs out of trucks and people. 

As Malibu knows all too well … that’s what happened in 2018.


Stern Carries Woolsey Fire Income Tax Break To Gov’s Desk

People who lost their structures to the Woolsey Fire may get a slight break from taxes. 

California governor Gavin Newsom has to make a decision on whether to sign a bill that would give the tax breaks to fire victims.

State senator Henry Stern authored the bill… which passed the state Senate and then the Assembly.

Now numbered Assembly Bill 1246 … it would exempt payments to fire victims from Southern California Edison from state income tax.

It would not affect federal taxes.

The bill singles out victims of the Woolsey Fire and one other big fire that hit Ventura and Santa Barbara counties …. the Thomas Fire. 

In 2017 … the Thomas Fire burned just over a thousand houses and killed two in the fire … plus 21 in subsequent fire-caused mudslides.

In 2018 … the Woolsey Fire burned just over 1600 houses and killed three. 

Together, both fires burned almost 380,000 acres of land, destroyed almost 3000 structures, caused over $8 billion in damages,

Both were apparently caused by Southern California Edison power lines that were not properly maintained. 

The tax break bill is now sitting on the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The deadline for his to sign it … veto it … or let it become law without his signature is one week from Friday.


Heavy Work Starts At 101 Cougar Bridge

Heavy construction is now underway on the 92 million dollar wildlife overpass above the 101 Freeway.

The largest wildlife bridge in California will connect the Malibu mountains to wild country to the north.

On the freeway … lanes have been moved over … narrowed … and repainted on the 101.

Now begins the heavy utility relocation … foundation work … artificial tunnel construction… and then moving tons and tons of dirt to fill in the canyon where US 101 now sits. 

It’s the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Overpass … named for the publishing industry billionaire who gave a big grant for it. 

Seven years ago … KBUU News introduced you to Beth Pratt … the wildlife activist who was trying to build the bridge. 

She said it seemed impossible … but now … the money is in the bank and the dirt is moving.

But while the 101 project is huge … and underway … Pratt says local roads in the Santa Monica Mountains are also killing grounds for wildlife.

And additional bridges for critters may be proposed. 


“We’re not stopping with Wallace Annenberg Animal Crossing.

“We know from the science that this is the most significant barrier to connectivity in the region.

“But obviously places like Malibu Canyon Road … Las Virgenes … the 118 … the 126 … the 5 … 

“I mean I know I could make a list.

The National Park Service has actually already started working on some of those with Caltrans like the 118 … and actually has done sort of a rough inventory of the other places that we need to look at.”

One of those other places is on the 101 Freeway … 8 miles west of the new bridge that’s being built now.

That’s at the Camarillo Grade … where the Santa  Monica Mountains also bump up against wild country to the north.

But closer to Malibu … one big deadly problem … where mountain lions and other animals routinely get hit by cars… Is Malibu Canyon.

Two mountain lions have recently been killed crossing Malibu Canyon-Las Virgenes Road.

That’s a county road … owned by LA County… and there have been no projects studied or planned to reduce the number of animals killed on that major route … which bisects the Santa Monica Mountains.

Simple solution … says the mountain lion advocate.

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“Yeah first of all slow down.


“I mean … I used to be someone who sped before working on wildlife connectivity.

“Now I’m at the speed limit if not under most times because … I just can’t unsee roadkill now … I can’t unsee the statistics.

“So just please slow down … the wildlife is really trying to make their way.”

Seven years ago … Beth Pratt described herself as a crazy person with a cardboard cougar … traveling California trying to drum up big money to build the bridge.

Yesterday … she thanked Malibu for its early support on building the Wildlife Crossing over the 101 Freeway.

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“Thanks for being there at the start of this journey with us even when we were crazy you know… even when we were crazy. [RAUCOUS LAUGH].”


Microquake Hits Malibu, Epicenter Right Over There

A very small earthquake hit Western Malibu yesterday morning.

Magnitude 1.8.

It hit at 5:40 am

The epicenter was just about under the KBUU studios in Trancas. 

No … we didn’t feel it either.


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