Time for a local gut issue, and there is nothing better in Malibu to seed anxieties, send a shiver down most spines, and set teeth gnashing: what to do about traffic on the city’s main street, the dreaded PCH.

Forget the debate over Malibu as a sanctuary city, whether it is a conceit or courageous. It’s political posturing that after all the rhetoric will affect no one.

But traffic on the PCH affects everyone, in Malibu, and more specifically the haphazard parking along the PCH that exacerbates the traffic.

Now that is an issue all living in Malibu, or just visiting, or passing through, in a car or on a bike, can relate to., and so I comment this weekend on public radio 97.5 KBU and select websites

Traffic is an emotional and frustrating issue, and it is on the agenda Wednesday night at City Hall, where there will be a joint meeting of the public works and public safety commissions.

They and anyone interested will hear a final draft report of a protracted study of parking along PCH prepared by the city in collaboration with the Southern California Association of Governments and Caltrans.

Making this study especially appealing is that in addition to examining current road and shoulder conditions , it notes parking related collisions, assesses safety, and concludes by making specific recommendations, for troubled stretches of the PCH, which of course is most of the PCH.

And it boldly prioritizes them, all 63 of them, weighing them 1 for highest through 8. In a world of bureaucratic babble, you have to love the detailed recommendations. Though I suspect some people will take exception.

In particular, since there will be a loss of public parking, it be interesting to see how the Coastal Commission reacts. Will its commitment to public access yield to public safety concerns, or vice a versa?

The parking issue is particularly urgent, prompted by recent deadly accidents involving pedestrians along the PCH. And then there has been the obvious increase in the visitors to Malibu, as evidenced by the chaotic, indeed frightening, scene edging the PCH on most weekends.

Can it be made safer, by limiting parking, narrowing driving lanes, and better signage and striping? And what about more policing? And how about revisiting speed limits, and just everyone going slower?

If the hearing ever gets to public comments, expect a recitation of studied concerns, churlish complaints, and probably an obscenity, or two. A prayer might help.

The recommendations if implemented no doubt will make PCH safer, and prompts me to amend my opinion in the past, that if Malibu is a piece of heaven on earth, as many residents contend, then the PCH has to be its hell. Perhaps more apt would be to describe driving PCH as a form of purgatory, an intermediate state between heaven and hell.

However, as a planner, I should note that improving roadways almost always generates more traffic; traffic being like water, flowing downhill, to find its way into the most conducive channel. And if I need to remind those who live in Malibu, the PCH is the one and only channel,



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Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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