Aired July 18, KBU.FM. More Local Concerns
Why do Malibu residents find City Hall so exasperating?
Here it is, several weeks into the Summer, and Grasswood Avenue on Point Dume is very much a parking lot on beach beckoning days, impassable for emergency vehicles, to the consternation of first responders, and difficult for residents.
It has been several months since a gaggle of Grasswood residents went before the city’s Public Safety Commission, asking that something, anything, be done. The item was duly placed on its agenda; the commission took testimony –noting that it was the largest turnout in memory –and directed the city to come up with several alternatives.
The city came back with a proposal to stripe the street to allow for through traffic, confining parking to the edges where possible. It was approved. The residents placated.
Then came the poison pill. Heeding the concerns of ever-cautious councilperson Laura Rosenthal, the city manager, Jim Thorsen, said that before implementing the improvement, a consenting petition was needed from a majority of the street’s residents. For a public safety measure? That already was unanimously approved?
Some 20 years ago when riding a bike to the Pt. Dume elementary school a students was almost killed by a speeding car at Fernhill and Sea Ranch Way. I recall it took a week or so to get a stop sign erected at the intersection. Other public safety initiatives also have not required a consensus. Indeed, the city’s charter is prefaced by the paramount concern for the “health, safety and welfare” of residents.
Rosenthal had raised the concern that the parking improvements would provoke the wrath of a contentious Coastal Commission who embraces the parking as an enhancement to beach access. However, its establishing statue, Coastal Act, Section 30210, clearly states “maximum access shall be provided consistent with public safety needs.”
It was suggested that the parking constraints should nevertheless be implemented, at least for the Summer, and then weigh the reaction, if any. But City Hall prevailed.
And so a conscientious resident subsequently hosted a meeting to air the issue and garner signatures. The turnout was decent, about two dozen. Some signed, some balked, and some talked, and talked.
The question of whether enough signatures were gathered, and what indeed constitutes enough, was not made clear by the city. The city manager has not answered several queries.
Meanwhile, it has been four months since the residents went before the Public Safety Commission, two months since the constraints were approved, several weeks since the community gathering, and the parking problem on Grasswood persists.
So much for the prime principle of democratic institutions, that they deliver results. It is no wonder that the Malibu City Council meetings are becoming more and more contentious.
This is a slightly edited commentary was aired on 97.5 KBU on July 18.