When it comes to the city fiddling with the dreaded PCH, it is one step forward and one step back, as I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU and select websites.

Actually, the PCH is a state highway and the city really can’t fiddle with it, only make suggestions to the bureaucratic overseer CALTRANS.

And given the city’s proclivities, politics, and personnel, fiddle may not be the correct word. Let me suggest the Yiddish “putz” around with it.   So we have situations like no right hand turn lane at Trancas Canyon Boulevard, and other screw ups.  Or the latest involving parking on PCH.

And perhaps instead of describing the action as a step back, let me morbidly suggest the image of a brightly vested young valet parking attendant, darting back and forth on PCH, as if his or her life depended upon on it, because it just might.

Their life and perhaps the driver of the car that swerves to avoid hitting the jaywalking or running valet, and collides with oncoming traffic or a parked vehicle.

For the probability of this tragic scenario, I feel, has been unfortunately heightened by the hapless Malibu City Council’s approval to allow a hotel to park their cars off  its property, and most probability relocate them across PCH.

The request was made by a local anything-for-a buck architectural firm on behalf of the Malibu Beach Inn, to allow the hotel to replace its existing on-site parking with a swimming pool for guests. Nice.

Of course this opens the door for any oceanside hotel, motel or B&B to apply for off site parking to better use and profit from their guest serving facilities for whatever, a swimming pool, a sauna, a smoking lounge, maybe even a few more guest rooms.

Each case will be decided on site specific particular, so whomever might see dollar signs in all this, just pay your fee to the city, and get on line.  And don’t forget the extra charges for having the city and its ever-ready consultant produce the necessary studies on how traffic will be affected.

But anybody who has driven on PCH when hotel or bar patrons, or the valets, are desperately trying to park, or retrieve cars no doubt can guess the affect: scary. And not incidentally it will naturally slow traffic, assuming that you value life and your car.

Ignored in the city’s rush to please a commercial developer is that this is a case of local spot zoning, compromising established state highway standards dating back 70 or so years, and just may be illegal. Yes, another city screwup.

I can understand councilpersons Lou La Monte and Laura Rosenthal voting for it , given their accommodating view of anything commercial to add to the city’s coffers, and their business friendly posture in their lame duck term.

But the vote of first responder Rick Mullen is a puzzle. He did indeed comment that the proposal seemed to be bad for traffic and safety, yes, before voting for it anyway. Go figure.


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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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