A new signalized pedestrian crosswalk being installed on PCH by contractors for the Malibu Beach Inn angered many locals stuck in traffic for over 45 minutes last week because of a lane closure.
The city was inundated with complaints. They put out a statement saying, “This is not a City of Malibu or Caltrans project. The work was mandated by the California Coastal Commission and permitted by Caltrans.”
A number of residents criticized the city on social media for not taking more responsibility for the situation and, over a period of days, it seemed that remedies were worked out. The city announced last Thursday that Caltrans would now “conduct work requiring lane closures at night whenever possible.”
According to a city statement to The Malibu Times, “The city’s Public Works Department meets regularly with Caltrans to coordinate projects, schedules and communications to the public… Unfortunately, the city isn’t always informed of Caltrans’ upcoming projects in a timely manner, because Caltrans is a huge entity with many departments.”
Also, according to the city, “Public Works monitors traffic issues daily as part of their general field work, and if an issue arises on PCH, they and the city manager work with Caltrans to request changes in construction scheduling or set up traffic control.”
Tony Canzoneri, the local attorney representing the Malibu Beach Inn’s owners, pointed out that the crosswalk project had only tied up traffic for one day.
“Most of the work on the street has been done,” he said. “There won’t be much more disruption at all, and the remaining work will be done at night whenever possible. We’re mostly waiting for the traffic lights to come in.”
Bonnie Blue of the city’s planning department doesn’t generally get involved in Caltrans projects, but confirmed there will be some traffic delays one day next week at the inn “because it will be a noisy job associated with concrete removal that can’t be done at night.” She confirmed the city will continue to “put out notices to the public based on Caltrans notifications.”
Since the Malibu Beach Inn traffic snafu, the city announced additional construction projects in the Civic Center area that will require intermittent lane closures from now through Memorial Day—PCH at Cross Creek Road and Webb Way, and PCH at Malibu Canyon Road. As of Tuesday morning, those projects were causing significant traffic delays, according to KBUU, because of temporary timers put on the traffic signals that don’t keep green lights on PCH on long enough. Caltrans is supposed to be working on it.
As for the Malibu Beach Inn crosswalk deal, it’s all in California Coastal Commission documents, and the origin goes back 30 years.
According to CCC staff reports, when the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn at 22878 PCH was approved for construction in 1988, the nine-unit Tonga-Lei Motel and Don the Beachcomber Restaurant had to be demolished, taking away a traditional area of beach access. To make up for that, the CCC required the owners build two public access stairways from the State Parks parking lot next door down to the beach.
Then-owners Marlin Miser and Martin Cooper submitted preliminary plans to California State Parks for two beach access stairways, but the stairs were never constructed.
The hotel was sold to David Geffen’s company in 2005. In 2009, when the hotel applied for an expansion, CCC reviewed property records and discovered the access stairways had never been built. The enforcement staff sent a Notice of Violation letter, but despite various efforts, nothing was done.
In 2015, the property was sold to Simon Mani of Mani Brothers Real Estate Investment Group in West Hollywood for $80 million. At $1.7 million a room, it was a record price for an LA hotel—or any hotel in the United States.
In the final Consent Agreement of 2016, Mani agreed, among other things, to finance the construction of two public-access stairways, pay $300,000 to MRCA, fund the construction of a signalized crosswalk across PCH for approximately $425,000, and pay $200,000 to the Commission’s Violation Remediation Account.
The “crosswalk” was to be within 200 feet of the inn, synchronized with the two existing crosswalks, and completed in 36 months, with final plans submitted to the city.
Canzoneri pointed out that the PCH Traffic Study confirmed that this area had a high rate of accidents and is a dangerous area for pedestrians to cross.
The attorney added that every phase of the project is being overseen by Caltrans.
“They studied it, permitted it and inspected it,” he said. “The work is being done by an approved Caltrans contractor. They are very protective of their state highway.”