Indulge me, the city observed for this week on 97.5 KBU and everywhere on select websites is my Malibu neighborhood of Point Dume, an eclectic collection of varied if pricey homes for a varied population of nearly 3,000, a rambling rural village on a singular promontory overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I feel very fortunate, if not downright lucky, having lived and raised several children there for a score of years, tasting the fruit from my orchard, smelling the salt water, hearing the nightly bark of nesting seals and watching the seasonal migration of whales. Its location is truly a blessing.
But it also brings with it the bane of traffic, especially on the many beach days. Roads become speedways for visitors and indulged part time denizens. Also very much a problem is parking, it being free on the streets, as opposed nearby lots, resulting in the constant cruising for premium spots on the web on Point streets..
After years of resident complaints and several community meeting, the city drafted a traffic management plan that included striping some streets, installing radar speed advisory signs, and lowering the speed limit.
These have met with general approval, tinged of course with some skepticism. The constraints affect both visitors and residents, as the sheriff’s department observed in reviewing enforcement efforts.Less unanimous has been installing speed humps, which many including the Fire Department feel slows the response of ambulances and fire trucks.
But most controversial has been the call for residents to remove landscape encroachments less mature trees on the city’s public right of way edging roadways.
The city council had approved the removal, but rising and reverberating protests promoted the issue be aired again.
It most certainly dominated the community meeting last Thursday at the Pt. Dume elementary school, where about 60 residents gathered to hear an update on the progress of the City’s traffic plan.
To be sure, the meeting started out congenial enough, but residents soon got impatient hearing the repeated recitation of the City’s initiatives and wanted to get to the proposal regarding the rights of way. Sensing the mood, city manager Reva Feldman and city public works director Bob Brager opened up the meeting to questions and comments.
Most in the audience including me were opposed, noting among other things that denuding road edges would lend the appearance of street widening, which would encourage speeding, the opposite of the City stated goal to calm traffic.
Aside from the expense of removing plantings as well fences and mailboxes, there was real concern that it would deface the Point’s eclectic rural character, and harm property values. And for what?
The City manager was asked pointedly just why it had been proposed, perhaps to provide more parking to placate the Coastal Commission. She assured the audience there was no such plan; that the city was just concerned about pedestrian safety, and thinking about sidewalks. She added that perhaps some compromise can be explored, that maybe only four feet would be needed, and asked for a show of hands of those who might consider this. There was some, but no count was taken.
The meeting ended, with the promise by the city manager that nothing will be done without further review.
Excuse the metaphor, but it appears that the can of worms that is traffic has been kicked further down the Point streets — just the way the City has dealt with many of municipal problems, such as the civic center. And just the way some residents like it.