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38th Malibu Triathlon back on after endangered fish concerns

38th annual Malibu triathlon last-minute approval
38th annual Malibu triathlon last-minute approval 02:41

The Malibu Triathlon is back on and will be held as planned this weekend thanks to an early morning decision by the City Council.

The fundraising event was in danger of cancellation due to a combination of a flooded underpass, an endangered fish and concerns about proper public notification.

Following a marathon meeting that included hours of comments by triathlon supporters, the Malibu City Council voted 4-0 to grant a permit for the triathlon, which will feature events over two days Saturday and Sunday, with the main race Sunday.

The 38th edition of the race, combining running, swimming and bicycling, had long been planned and permitted for those dates, but things got complicated due to the heavy winter rains.

The course for the race, which annually attracts thousands of participants, traditionally passes through a Zuma Beach undercrossing at Busch Drive. But the recent rain left that underpass covered in water, which is now occupied by an endangered fish known as the tidewater goby.

Northern tidewater goby

In previous years, flooding issues have been resolved by the use of a temporary bridge crossing, but the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife would not allow such a structure due to the presence of the endangered fish, according to the city.

As a result, race organizers were forced to reconfigure the race route, but that required a fresh review of the event's city permit. Organizers submitted a new permit application, but city planners said the application came too late to meet the city's required 32 day public notice. As a result,

The city Planning Commission deadlocked on a 2-2 vote last week, with one member absent, on the new permit, effectively rejecting it. The two commissioners who voted against the permit cited the public-notice requirement.

Race organizers appealed to the City Council, which took up the issue at its Monday night meeting, which stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning before a vote was taken.

In the end, council members recognized the notification issues, but said the triathlon is a highly publicized annual event.

According to the race website, the event annually raises nearly $1 million for pediatric cancer research at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. It also annually attracts a list of celebrity participants, with past competitors including Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Robin Williams, Teri Hatcher and Mario Lopez. 

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