Public Safety Manager Addresses Power Outages

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Susan Dueñas

At a meeting hosted by the Point Dume Neighborhood Watch, City of Malibu Public Safety Manager Susan Dueñas spoke about the recent power outages in areas of Malibu. 

She described a meeting on Oct. 15 (the day of the first mass power outage of the month) between her, the fire chief and Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Lt. Jim Royal about notifying residents of Southern California Edison’s potential power shut-off plan. When they went to send disaster notification alerts out to the Malibu population, a portion had already lost power (unrelated to the power shut-off plan) and was not able to receive the notification.

While the city is fighting the California Public Utilities Commission-approved decision on a state level, Dueñas said, “We still have to deal with the reality as it stands right now.”

Her proposals veered a little more “old school,” as she phrased it, including fire warning sirens in locations throughout the city and calling on cell companies to install battery backups in cell towers.

“The other thought we had with the problem of no cell service is possibly looking at putting, and this is real old school, call boxes up some of the canyons, in the neighborhoods, kind of like what you see on the freeway where you can go to the call box and get in touch with emergency services,” she described.

The hope is to have SCE pay for the safety precautions or secure money through hazard mitigation funding.

“I mean we’ve always had power outages, that’s not new. But the fact that it’s a power outage at our most vulnerable moment is the part that is pretty scary,” Dueñas told the audience, adding that in July, in a meeting with SCE, she said, “Maybe your cost-benefit analysis works statewide, but it doesn’t work in Malibu.”

Anyone with ideas on possible notification solutions is encouraged to contact Dueñas at sduenas@malibucity.org.

Editor’s note: This news brief has been updated to clarify the date of a meeting.