Welcome to the 12th issue of the Topanga New Times! Our theme this issue is the self-reliance and the creative, inventive, and self-sufficient do-it-yourself spirit of the people who call Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains home. We have a new feature debuting this issue: Meet Me on the Mountain will introduce our readers to some of the people who exemplify this spirit. See page 8 for our first profile, Topanga resident Sophie Zeiler, who gives our readers a look at her one-of-a-kind Topanga home.

There is good news for mountain lions and other wildlife this week. Governor Gavin Newsom has signed AB1788, read more about this landmark rodenticide legislation on (page 7). Also in this issue, planting and propagating native plants (page 12); a review of the documentary Kiss the Ground (page 17); a checklist for fall fire and disaster safety (page 14); and DIY acorn recipes from Kat High (page 16—and look for Kat’s new TNTV feature on our website, www.topanganewtimes.com/TNTV).

October arrived with more record heat and increased fire fears, as wildfires continue to rage throughout the state. There is good news in the Bobcat Fire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains. The blaze, which has burned for a full month and consumed 115,758 acres, is finally nearing full containment. 

Communities in the Santa Monica Mountains have had several scares and near misses, but have so far avoided a major fire, but fire risk remains high. It’s up to all of us to keep it that way by avoiding open flames, and any activity that could spark a fire, including using equipment like weed whips or using tiki torches, fireworks—even small ones like sparklers can ignite a blaze, and smoking out of doors.

A widening circle of COVID-19 infection continues to spread out from the White House in Washington DC. When TNT went to press, 13 high-profile members of Donald Trump’s inner circle, including the President himself, had been diagnosed with the disease, and the number was still climbing. It’s a brutal reminder that the virus doesn’t care who it infects, its goal is simply to replicate and spread. Coronavirus numbers in California remain relatively stable, but face coverings, hand washing and social distancing remain essential.

The Trump Administration coronavirus infection cluster puts the pandemic center stage in what has become arguably the most contentious and bizarre election cycle in U.S. history. 

A record number of voters are taking advantage of early voting. Every registered voter in California will be receiving a vote-by-mail ballot this week. Topanga residents can drop their ballots off or vote in person at three canyon locations, from  October 31-November 3: the Topanga Library, 122 N Topanga Canyon Blvd; the Topanga Community Center, 1440 N Topanga Canyon Blvd; and the Mountain Mermaid, 20421 Callon Dr, Topanga. It’s not too late to register to vote. Register by October 19, or vote by provisional ballot in person at a voting center. 

The closest early voting centers, where all registered voters in the county can drop off ballots or vote in-person beginning October 11, are Webster Elementary School in Malibu,  3602 Winter Canyon Rd, and the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center,  27040 Malibu Hills Rd, Calabasas CA 91301. Hours October 24-November 2, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., November 3, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Topanga seniors who prefer not to leave their homes to return their ballots have a special option this election. The Canyon Sages have volunteers who are waiting to pick up ballots and drop them in a ballot drop box or at the Post Office. This is allowed by law, and is a special circumstance due to Covid keeping people in their homes. To sign up, contact Kristine Sloan at kristinesloan@icloud.com or 323-836-4001.

For all voter information, including how to check registration, find voting centers, read the voter handbook online, track a ballot once it is mailed, and stay up to date on local and state results once the polls close on November 3, visit https://lavote.net/home/voting-elections.

Be well, stay safe, and VOTE!