Build Malibu Better: Traffic Hell on the PCH

On Sunday, July 26, I was reminded why I try not to leave the neighborhood after noon on a summer weekend. I accepted three appointments between 1 – 3:30 p.m. and ventured forth into Malibu’s version of Dante’s Inferno.

As I inched past Zuma Beach I counted four cars that had stopped on the traffic lanes or in the bike lane (and half of a traffic lane) while they waited for someone to decide to leave. The bicycles, finding the bike lane blocked, detoured around the double-parked vehicles and came close to the “fast” lane. Hydrants were routinely blocked by cars parked in the red zone. I saw one of our Volunteers on Patrol feverishly writing tickets as he made his way along the throngs of cars. I’ve heard that it is not unusual for the speediest of the VOPs to write close to 100 tickets before his pen melts or bursts into flames.

The area near the Paradise Cove light was less insane, but not by much. Families pushing strollers and walking two abreast challenged the cars for the use of the slow lane. More cars stopped in the slow lane in the hopes that the family they saw bustling around a car just ahead were preparing to leave, not arriving.

Residents of Malibu Road and Broad Beach have been vocal about the congestion and haphazard parking.

A similar disrespect for the rules of the road was evident on Carbon and La Costa beaches as a good percentage of the 10,000,000-plus people who reside in Los Angeles County competed feverishly for a parking spot. They are loving us to death.

I talked to Chris Frost, longtime member of the Malibu Public Safety Commission. Chris pointed out that as the cost of parking at Zuma, Paradise Cove and in the few open lots has gone up, the relative cost of a $50 or $60 ticket for parking in the red doesn’t seem so bad.

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It also appears that the word has gotten around that Malibu, which lost the tow yard two years ago, does not tow anymore. For years, the high school had a summer lease with Malibu Tow that allowed many short distance tows from Zuma. The presence of a tow truck hooking up has a deterrent effect on those looking for a space.

What can we do? How hard is it to raise the cost of a parking ticket? Can we expand the Volunteers on Patrol program? Can we do a seasonal lease of a city-owned property for a towing company? Our budget for 20-21 is looking more precarious as COVID-19 eviscerates the sales tax income but writing more tickets might fill a few of the corners. Are parking meters in high-demand areas really the Kryptonite of Malibu politics? Did you know that we are the only beach city in Southern California without parking meters? How do these crowds affect our local COVID risk?

Nationally, the seven-day moving average number of daily COVID-19 deaths is just below 1,000 per day, which is about where we were on June 5, almost two months ago. Deaths as a percentage of cases have dropped to about 3.5 percent. It has not been that low since about April 10.

The City of Malibu reported its 73rd infection and its second death in the last week. Let’s not have a third.

Masks are not a political issue. It is essential that we protect ourselves when outside the home by social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding those who do not. Stay well.

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