Malibu Bans Killer Toxins

The City of Malibu has joined Unincorporated Los Angeles County in banning toxic pesticides, including the anticoagulant rodenticides responsible for the death of three mountain lions this year. Activists continue to push for a statewide ban on this type of poison. Map courtesy of Poison-Free Malibu

The entire Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Zone will soon be poison free. Los Angeles County banned pesticides in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains in 2014 as part of its Local Coastal Plan (LCP). On December 9, the Malibu City Council voted unanimously to amend the Malibu LCP to also prohibit the use of pesticides, including anticoagulant rodenticide and herbicides like Round-Up.

Poison Free Malibu, the nonprofit organization founded by Malibu residents Kian and Joel Schulman, has sought a ban in Malibu since the death of mountain lion P-25 from rat poison in 2012. In a tremendous outpouring of support from the conservation community, the room was packed with supporters who gave more than four hours of testimony. Residents from Malibu, Topanga, Calabasas and Agoura Hills were joined by representatives from regional and national conservation and environmental advocacy organizations that included the National Resource Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Mountain Lion Foundation, and the Coyote Project. Senator Henry Stern wrote a letter of support.

There was testimony like that of California Wildlife Center veterinarian Stephany Lewis, who brought images of her rescue organization’s wildlife patients incapacitated, dying and dead from rat poison and described the pain these animals suffer. 

A cadre of environmental attorneys from various organizations explained that the Coastal Act gives the Coastal Commission the legal right to regulate pesticides in the coastal zone, and that Malibu could safely amend its LCP without fear of legal reprisal from the pesticide industry. Concern over the potential for legal liability caused an earlier city council to postpone enacting a citywide ban on pesticides, opting instead to limit the ban to city parks and property. 

“This has to happen,” Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson said. “If it ends up in some sort of lawsuit we’ll go there. This means everything.”

“What we have tonight is an opportunity to do something,” said Malibu Mayor Karen Farrer at the end of public comments. “Now is the time to stop kicking this can down the road.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the LCP amendment, but the mayor made a special request to the audience.

“We have a larger battle going on at the state level,” she said, referring to AB1788, a bill to ban some of the most toxic rodenticides. “We need to keep working on that, applying pressure. Anyone who has contacted us, please extent that to the state level. Send your letters to Assemblymember Richard Bloom, send them to Governor Newsom. That’s how things happen.”


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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