It look as like it is going to be a long sweltering summer, making the beaches in Malibu more popular than ever. And for Point Dume that means an invasion of visitors on the prowl for free parking spaces, prompting growls from us residents who pick up their trash.
This may be a parochial issue, but it does spot light the increasing conflict of planning and politics in our burgeoning and beset communities, and the imperative of a more informed citizenry and city government, as I comment this week on 97.5 KBU and everywhere on radiomalibu.net and select websites.
As hot as the weather is, so are the protests for what many of us residents consider an ill considered proposal recently approved by the City Council to compel property owners to remove landscape encroachments, less mature trees, from the municipal right of way edging roadways.
The proposal was an item in a city traffic calming plan that included the lowering of speed limits and the questionable installation of speed humps. The encroachment issue came as an extra to many who feel if pursued would compromise the rural ambience of the Point, to say nothing of the personal expense to property owners.
And this despite numerous studies having found removing landscaping from roadways has the opposite effect, and actually promotes speeding, and increases accident.
Though it is not clear why the City at present has raised the fractious proposal, whether, as the city manager has said, to accommodate sidewalks or, as the Mayor has indicated, that more parking was needed to placate the Coastal Commission.
As for the sidewalks, the results of their placement on a few Point streets has been definitely mixed, with people especially in a group and with dogs, preferring to walk in the roadways.
This is not necessarily bad, for it does have the effect of slowing traffic, and indeed is considered very much a traffic calming tool, in Europe. There the concept is labeled “woonerf,” after being initiated in the Netherlands, and designates select streets to be shared spaces used equally for cars, bikes and pedestrians – just as it works informally on beach streets here in Malibu and other coastal villages.
To be sure, each street is treated differently, with roadway dots and signage, necking portions, and where feasible encouraging landscaping to lend the neighborhood character
Whatever, the issue of landscape removal has generated much heat, flamed by the mayor’s comment caught on the city’s own television channel declaring the Point’s grandfathered no parking street signs should be pulled. This prompted one resident to comment that politically the remark was the equivalent to pulling the pin out of a grenade.
And echoing in the debate — thank you city planning commissioner John Mazza – is our General Plan’s Land Use Policy 2 point 4 point 6, “ The City shall avoid improvements which create a suburban atmosphere such as sidewalks and street lights”, with the section specific to Pt Dume.
And as embarrassing as it is for City Hall and its entourage, debate over the traffic plan is going to continue, a harbinger no doubt for other neighborhoods in Malibu and beyond. There is nothing like an issue outside one’s own front door to stir emotions.