Malibu Parking Fines Weighed and Found Wanting

Vehicles parked on either side of PCH near Pt. Mugu

Ever wonder if “that ridiculous parking fine” you got in Santa Monica was typical for the area?  Wonder no more—the Malibu Public Safety Commission has completed a survey of the fines that Malibu charges for 12 different parking violations, compared to fines in four comparable cities: Santa Monica, Calabasas, Manhattan Beach and Laguna Beach.

Santa Monica fines were the highest in every category (although it tied for first place in the price of a ticket for parking too close to a fire hydrant).

Malibu and Calabasas fines were identical for all 12 surveyed parking violations, and about half the fines charged by Malibu and Manhattan Beach were identical. The biggest discrepancy was the fine for parking in a bus loading zone—in Malibu, it’s a $263 fine; in Manhattan Beach, it’s only $53.

Laguna Beach had the lowest fines in the survey. 

The survey was conducted in order to provide recommendations to city council on whether any changes ought to be made to Malibu’s fee levels, called the “Schedule of Parking Citation Penalties.” The commission voted to recommend an increase in a number of the parking fines, according to an email from Public Safety Manager Susan Dueñas. 

Public safety review

Last week’s meeting was also the “state of the union”—the annual review for all of the public safety services in Malibu: sheriff’s and fire departments, lifeguards and summer beach enforcement. The commission decided that current service levels of each agency were adequate based on their reports, according to Dueñas.

The sheriff’s department is paid directly out of the City of Malibu annual budget, whereas fire and lifeguard costs are covered by property tax assessments.

Acting Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Smith, of Division VII, Central Regional Operations Bureau, provided the written LA County Fire Department summary for the year. He stated that, on any given day, 17 firefighters are on duty in the city, working 24-hour shifts in one of four Malibu fire stations.

Their air & wildland division operates two fire suppression camps in Malibu—Camp 8, on Rambla Pacifico, staffs paid fire suppression aides daily and provides helicopter coverage for the Santa Monica Mountains. Camp 13, on Encinal Canyon, is staffed by female inmate firefighters.

Over the past year, the fire department responded to 3,005 calls in Malibu. The lion’s share of call-outs—72 percent—was for 2,164 emergency medical calls. In total, 491 “advanced life support” transports with a paramedic on board occurred, with  757 “basic life support” transports with emergency medical technicians.

The department responded to 56 fires of all kinds—structures, vehicles, brush, rubbish, cooking, beach and outside equipment. They made 253 good intent calls (such as for calls canceled en route, wrong locations, controlled burns, barbeques, smoke/odor in the area and patients refusing treatment). In addition, they made 458 service calls, including public assists, local government assists, snake removals, flooding and investigations.

Chief Lifeguard Fernando Boiteux offered this year’s Malibu Lifeguard services summary. He said during daylight hours, 11 full-time ocean lifeguards are on duty, with three of the 11 working a 24-hour schedule out of Zuma Beach Lifeguard Headquarters for after-hours coverage.

If weather, ocean conditions and/or crowds warrant, the lifeguard division calls additional help in from a roster of 650 ocean lifeguards to staff any of the 27 lifeguard towers in Malibu. This past year, LA County Lifeguards in Malibu made 3,112 ocean rescues.

Boiteux also pointed out that the Baywatch Rescue Boat is berthed at the Malibu Pier, which responds to ocean rescues near and far, including everything between Malibu and the Channel Islands. He stated that rescue boat personnel are highly trained in marine electronics, navigation, salvage, marine firefighting, scuba, and marine search and rescue. This past year, Malibu Baywatch responded to 406 calls.

Lt. James Braden of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station prepared the 2020 summer beach enforcement operation summary.  He explained that the department “selects an extremely motivated team of sworn and non-sworn personnel to provide a strong, visible, proactive police presence from the ground and air.” The team operates seasonally from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Braden pointed out that “This year’s core team faced great challenges, given the vast number of visitors arriving at beach destinations within the city, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and “Safer at Home” health orders.”

2020 Malibu Beach Team totals for summer included 8,520 parking citations, 2,575 alcohol on beach citations and 680 traffic citations (hazardous).