A Street in Malibu Celebrates

Aired July 4, 2015

And today, being July Fourth, we witness our Democracy, being tested abroad, nationally, and also in my misanthropic Malibu.

There my neighbors on Grasswood Avenue on Pt. Dume are celebrating their own modest act of independence, having risen up to protest a traffic situation and pressure the city to finally, take some action.

To be sure, the situation is not one would call dire, unless you live on the street where during the Summer beachgoers park their cars haphazardly to be near the Point’s sandy stretches.

The result: the street becomes a clogged parking lot, impassable for residents and emergency vehicles.

For years residents have complained. But the city shied away from any action, out of fear that curtailing the parking however unsafe would engender the wrath and fines of the Coastal Commission. The agency religiously encourages anything to facilitate public access to Malibu’s beckoning beaches.

That is, until this year. With beach days on the rise and more and more people descending on the Point, clogging streets with their cars, residents say, enough is enough. First responders also have voiced concern.

Residents rallied before the city’s public safety commission, and demanded something be done. Confronted by a determined citizenry, the city agreed to initiate several mitigating measures, to constrain the parking, and increase enforcement.

Now all wait until it is actually done, hopefully before the Summer ends.

Maybe because it is July Fourth, but one senses a welling up of resident frustration with the city’s handling of planning issues, and the need for more civic transparency, more democracy!

Malibu is getting more dense and desirable, and traffic more intense. The ever-avaricious real estate interest love it, but residents don’t. Shrill protests have erupted over development, mostly the high end chain stores for the tourists, but also trophy houses for the deep pocket transient.

This conflict prompted the recent overwhelming approval by voters of an ordinance with the intent of constricting large commercial developments. However badly written, it nonetheless is an expression of protest.

Next came a ringing citizen protest of plans to cut down severable venerable trees to widen a street in the civic center to accommodate increased traffic generated by a proposed new shopping center.

Though the city’s Planning Commission voted that the trees somehow be saved, the issue is still to be resolved by a conflicted city government and a recalcitrant Caltrans.

But now involved and raising its voice is an energized citizenry, very much in the spirit of July Fourth.

Time to light a firecracker in celebration.

I’m Sam Hall Kaplan, and this is the City Observed, on KBU and radiomalibu. net.

 

Will Saving The Trees Save Malibu?

aired 6.17

It seems as long as I can remember in my two decades as a concerned citizen of misanthropic Malibu, the coastal city is at a crossroads, literally and figuratively.

The crossroads physically is at the intersection of the Pacific Coast Highway –the PCH –and Cross Creek Road, in what is euphemistically called the Malibu Civic Center. In reality, however, it’s really a clutter of scattered suburban mini malls, the civic element consisting, of an uninviting park, with an isolated library and city hall on its fringe. All have their adjacent segregated parking.

The crossroads in question is not incidentally an accident magnet, marked by a Shell station on the northeast corner, and the south side by a cluster of tall trees, a venerable Sycamore and five Eucalyptus.

Before the city’s Planning Commission the other evening was a plan to upgrade the crossroads, a so-called mitigation to satisfy a condition of approval for a commercial center the city green lighted way back in 2008. Approval of the mitigation would finally put a bow on the elaborate 112,000 square foot package, known as La Paz.

Many in the growing cadre of anti development forces across Malibu thought if the trees could be saved, the mitigation would fail, and therefore project stopped. Not so, contended the developer’s rep, who said he also loved the trees, but try and try again to get Caltrans to agree to an alternative failed.

If anything distinguishes Malibu residents, is that they have seldom heard or heeded the word no. do not They testified for three hours to save the trees, which they saw as a rare icon for a city “and repeatedly quoted from its land use plan the historical willingness of residents “to sacrifice urban and suburban conveniences in order to protect that environment and lifestyle, and to preserve unaltered natural resources and rural characteristics;”

This resonated with the commission, which came up with it thought is a Solomon–like decision. It approved the mitigation needed for public safety, but with an amendment to somehow save the trees. A Caltrans functionary there was typically evasive.

The commission in its decision suggested several modification that could be explored, including narrowing the lanes, taking a slice off the shell by relocating or eliminating one bank of pumps.

Let me add that this could be viable, if Shell was confronted with the alternative of losing all to eminent domain.

Putting on my planner’s hat, let me further suggest that PCH from the bridge over Malibu Creek to Webb way can be treated as a downtown Main Street, such as it is Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar among other coastal towns. With speed limits lowered from the present 45 to 25, and cross walks and sidewalks lit, Legacy Park edged to become more inviting, among other improvements, the scene also could lend itself to a more amendable civic identity.

Also raised at the commission was the question why was the city not taking more initiative in exploring alternatives and lobbying for them with Cal trans; why in these cases why the city also seems to be yielding to the applicant and their lobbyists.

This question places the city at a figurative crossroads. Will the city council with and the city bureaucracy step up and become proactive and less timorous in the fulfilling its obligations, particularly in the wake of a more demanding electorate? The passage of measure R certainly was a message that all is not well in Malibu. So was the commission hearing Monday night.