Talking the walk


    Malibu is ped-mean. As a pedestrian, I trekked a few ill-chosen miles of Malibu’s famed “26 Miles of Scenic Beauty” and was so struck dumb by the experience that I’m scheduled to endure the deathly calm of an MRI.

    We Malibuites brag about “beauty” on a signboard at the city line — a stretch of highway that can most charitably be deemed “rural.” But what beauty God wrought, man has turned asunder. Weed-choked and litter-strewn, Malibu’s eastern PCH is miles of carefree habitats and slack ropes of utility wires strung hither to yon teetering telephone poles. The least scenic stretch of highway is that built to be walked on — the sidewalk between Carbon Canyon and Cross Creek; downtown Malibu.

    Have you ever strolled the detritus? Today, I tried. I dodged dumpsters catty-wampus across the sidewalk; mamboed past mailboxes planted in the concrete; ducked a low-hanging sign; and was skirting a rusty, three-legged shopping cart when I sprawled. There, hidden beneath mounds of gopher dust was a rotting 4 x 4 waiting for a passing innocent. No. this is not a letter about me and my injuries, it is about how we, as a city, invest. It is about the choices we make as citizens.

    Three years ago, Malibu spent $50,000 on a feasibility study to build a bike path along PCH — clearly an infeasible proposition to any casual driver of the route. Ms. Van Horn proposed the study and it proceeded, in the end, declaring that a bike path along PCH was not feasible. How much better — and safer — might it have been to spend a fraction of that sum on monthly maintenance of the path already existing — for walkers?

    Our council has committed itself to “keeping Malibu rural.” I’ve seen enough of Appalachia to agree that the coastal east side of Malibu is rural — and it is not a pretty picture.

    What if we invested more in zoning standards for commercial properties such as those sidewalked along PCH? It would cost business owners less to build to code than to test the absence of one. Property values would be supported and a few miles of Malibu might earn the sobriquet “beauty.”

    What if we spent less to save the Malibu Gobi and more to save another endangered Malibu species — the one walking; the one footing the bill?

    Thank you, fellow citizen, for reading.

    Malibu Mad On Foot

    Jody Brightman