From the Publisher: Homelessness and its Impact

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Arnold G. York

We’ve all noticed there seems to be more homeless people in Malibu. They just completed a homeless count and, although the numbers aren’t in yet, none of us would be surprised if the numbers are up. The state, the county and our city are all struggling with the same problem and no one seems to have a very good answer. California, which is the state with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the country and is the fifth-largest economy in the world, is also struggling with the highest percentage of poverty in the country. Maybe the two just go together and I would guess it has a lot to do with inequality in our society, and many people are slipping out of the middle class into poverty. There are lots of reasons, including mental illness, drug use, unemployment and, most of all, lack of affordable housing. In our state, the cost of housing is one of the big culprits. We have a dramatic shortage of housing and we are barely keeping up with the new population, and certainly not making any inroads into the lack of building in the past. If the average rental in LA is $2,000 per month and typically you need a first and last month’s rent, and perhaps a security deposit, that all adds up to having $5,000 or more, and lots of people just don’t have it. So, we have 60,000 people living in cars and RVs in LA County and the county is simply struggling for an answer. Do you let them park all night on public streets? Do you let them sleep in public spaces or in the bushes and hills? Do you provide toilets and showers and services? If you do, will that just attract more homeless people? Do we develop a protected parking lot on government land with toilets and showers and services, or are we just building our own shantytown? Do you not prosecute when they steal food from markets and restaurants? If you arrest the parents, what do you do with their kids beacuse a lot of those homeless are woman and children? If you arrest the mother for shoplifting food does that mean you also have to arrest the children because you can’t just leave the kids on the streets alone? Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. in City Hall, the City of Malibu is holding a special council meeting addressing homelessness in Malibu. There are some tough questions and some even tougher answers. Go find out.

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The Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA), the joint powers satellite of Joe Edmiston’s Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC)—some might say, handmaiden of the SMMC, has launched a new public works plan to open seven new coastal access ways along PCH to join the dozen or so that already exist. That the MRCA wants to open more of the local coast to the general public is, to my mind, just fine. The public has a right to use the coast and should have the opportunity to do so. That the MRCA doesn’t have either the will or the budget to manage those beach accesses is the problem. Opening them in the early morning and closing them at sunset takes staff. Getting the garbage off the beaches and then cleaning up the beaches takes staff. Providing restrooms, preferably clean restrooms, requires staff. Constantly fixing gates and locks that break, which is what happens at the beach, takes staff. As ever, their appetite exceeds their capacities. Next week, we begin to run the first in a series of stories that looks at the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and its satellite, the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority—so stay tuned.

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In other coastal news, the county has gone ahead with the Gladstones Restaurant Redevelopment project with a building to be designed by architect Frank Gehry, of now worldwide fame, and restaurant by Wolfgang Puck, also internationally famous. Despite all those high-powered operators, it still could take years, so the county gave the current operator a five-year lease with a possible five-year extension. A briefing is going to take place on Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Palisades Branch Library from 6 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. The county is looking to end up with a major attraction that will have worldwide appeal to travelers, something that makes Malibu shudder, but still we have the Malibu Pier, which is equally as iconic.

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The first home rebuilt since the November 2018 Woolsey Fire got its occupancy permit and the owner is moving in, according to info provided by the city. To recap, the city provided the following information on the Woolsey Fire to date—the fire that was the largest wildfire in Los Angeles history and covered almost 100,000 acres, destroyed 488 homes in Malibu and 1,600 structures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. 

About 200 of the single-family homes in Malibu are in the planning and permitting process. Fifty-seven Malibu homeowners have already received their permits and there are about another 200 homeowners who have yet to make up their minds about what they want to do. Realtors have told us there seems to be an active market for people who want to sell their burned-out lots and the lot values seem to have held up fairly well.