Issues with food trucks on the street, plus flare-ups over field lights among topics at City Council meeting Monday.
By Melissa Caskey / The Malibu Times
Residents complained of a growing problem of food trucks and resultant litter along Heathercliff Road Monday night at the regular meeting of the City Council. It was also revealed that spotlights employed at last weekend’s Malibu Music Awards Monday were used without permits, and the controversy over field lights at Malibu High School flared up again when a former candidate for City Council criticized Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal for encouraging students to write letters to the Coastal Commission last year in favor of the lights.
After growing frustrated with food trucks and junk removal trucks parking near Heathercliff Road and Pacific Coast Highway, lifelong Malibu resident J.D. Stevens said he felt compelled to attend his first City Council meeting.
Stevens, who lives in the Point Dume Club residential neighborhood, said he started noticing the food and junk trucks about a year ago and wants the City Council to do more to deal with the constant annoyance.
“I think the council … should be ashamed for their apathy,” Stevens said during public comments.
Officials said the city has tried to find ways to deal with resident concerns on the matter, but that the city cannot interfere with state law, which allows the trucks to park along PCH.
“The laws of the state are very solidly in the corner of the man who has the junk removal truck and the food trucks,” Councilwoman Joan House said. “We’d perhaps have to sit down and write a city ordinance.”
The trucks are also largely to blame for trash that litters Heathercliff Road, Stevens said. He frequently sees food truck customers littering around the area at PCH and Heathercliff.
Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal agreed and said she is trying to get a trash can installed near where the food trucks tend to park.
“I know it looks like nothing is being done, but some of the things we can’t do and some of the things we can,” Rosenthal said.
After the meeting, Stevens remained cautious but optimistic about the City Council’s response to his concerns.
“I feel like they kind of are acting like they’re powerless,” Stevens said. “Hopefully this will begin a group effort to pursue the goal of eliminating the blight.”
Councilman Skylar Peak said local restaurant owners he’s spoken with are also frustrated with food trucks, which can hurt an establishment’s clientele. He floated out the idea of food trucks relocating to a different part of Malibu.
“I would rather see food trucks get directed during the summer to somewhere like Zuma Beach so that we don’t have nasty food stands,” Peak said.
Rosenthal responds to MHS field lights accusations
Former City Council candidate Hamish Patterson accused Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal of manipulating teachers at Malibu High School into using class time to have students write letters to the Coastal Commission in support of new football field lights at Malibu High School.
Reading from a letter to the editor published in the Malibu Surfside News, Patterson pointed out his concerns over Rosenthal’s involvement in the field lights project at the high school. The letter, written by resident Lynn Norton, said that Rosenthal urged former Principal Mark Kelly to have students attend a California Coastal Commission hearing on the lights in order to bolster support.
“What alarms me is that an elected public official would use their influence to influence the principal of a school … and then have those political issues influence another state agency,” Patterson told the council.
Rosenthal rebuked Patterson’s concerns, acknowledging that she advocated for the lighting but did not exert excessive power on the matter.
“I don’t ever have the power to make any principal or teacher do anything,” Rosenthal said. “Those were Lynn’s takes on emails I sent to her.”
After the meeting, City Attorney Christi Hogin said there was no wrongdoing on Rosenthal’s part because she did not participate in the City Council’s vote to approve the lights in June.
“She acknowledged that she was biased and recused herself from the vote,” Hogin said.
Malibu Music Awards illegally used spotlights
Organizers for the Malibu Music Awards failed to obtain a proper temporary lighting permit from the City of Malibu before using four bright spotlights to illuminate the skies over Malibu on Saturday night.
Councilman John Sibert said many residents had asked him about the lights. Sibert brought it up to Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski and City Manager Jim Thorsen at Monday’s meeting. Thorsen admitted that a temporary lighting permit had not been issued to award organizers.
“We’ll look into that issue,” Thorsen said.
Councilmembers continue work on Paradise Cove safety issues
After meeting with city officials last week to address safety at Paradise Cove, members of the California Coastal Commission directed the city to compile an inventory of every public access point in the City of Malibu. The commission also wants the city to assess how much free parking is available at Paradise Cove.
“The Coastal Commission is very concerned about access to the beach and also safety,” Rosenthal said.
If the city were to eliminate parking spaces at Paradise Cove, it would be required to replace the parking in a nearby space.
“The last thing they want to do is take away parking,” Rosenthal said.
Caltrans also recently reassigned a new group of staff members to specifically work with the City of Malibu on issues along Pacific Coast Highway. Mayor Lou La Monte said it was not the first time they’ve had to reacclimate a new set of Caltrans staffers to the safety issues are Paradise Cove.
“We’re gonna stay on these guys until we have worn them to the ground,” Monte said.