City gathers community input on clearing encroachments


on Busch Drive

Right-of-way encroachments have narrowed Busch Drive so that it is unsafe for pedestrian usage, as well as equestrians.

By Michael Aushenker / Special to The Malibu Times

The city’s Public Works Department conducted a community meeting to discuss how to go about having street right-of-way encroachments along Busch Drive removed or relocated in an effort to allow safe use of the street for pedestrian- and equestrian-related purposes.

The purpose of the Oct. 13 meeting, led by Public Works Director Bob Brager at Malibu High School’s library, was designed to get input from Busch Drive residents and give the information to city council. However, homeowners in attendance ultimately found the matters presented “too vague” and decided on a future meeting where, as Public Works Superintendent Rich Calvin said, city council “will come up with some concepts and bring it back to another town meeting.”

The meeting began with Brager explaining to the 30 people in attendance that some 69 properties along Busch had been invited to the workshop designed to “get a touchy-feel on what we can do about [clearing the encroachments of mailboxes, vegetation and other extensions of property]” along the designated pedestrian and horse paths lining both sides of Busch.

One resident questioned the need for clearing the encroachments, suggesting instead doing other things to create safer passage for pedestrians, such as more “Child at Play” signs.

However, Mayor Jefferson Wagner, who was slightly tardy after returning from the Coastal Commission meeting in Oceanside, countered, “The city does have to do something.”

Wagner said the city must clear the right-of-ways or else it would be liable if an incident occurs.

“It will be a real deficit for insurance purposes,” he added, driving up the city’s insurance costs.

Public Works officials explained that they were not there to ask whether to clear the roads’ right-of-ways but to take suggestions on how to go about it.

Several asked why the city was targeting Busch Drive and not other roads.

“We have to start somewhere,” Wagner responded, indicating that Busch Drive would serve as the template to apply to other roads.

Calvin explained that once a course is chosen, “Mr. Brager will look at the topography on Busch Drive and engineer a plan that will work.”

That plan will be shared with and discussed by the community.

Busch Drive resident Philip Gillin accused the city of neglecting its clearage duty from Pacific Coast Highway up Busch Drive.

“We could clear it [without consulting residents] but that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Calvin said. “We’re trying to come to a consensus … Our position is to take care of every one of you. You make the decisions.”

Citizens lamented how often right-of-way space is used for parking.

“It’s a little ticklish to go through the legislation for walkways and [it leads to the creation] of a parking lot,” Brian Pietro said.

Jeff Ruttledge of Trancas Riders & Ropers, a group of more than 100 riders, said he rides down Busch Drive all the time and the stretch “from the park to the trail path is very dangerous … we need to give feet [of right-of-way], that’s all we’re asking.”

“Whatever solution you have has to be settled with the postmaster,” said one resident, who explained that postal workers told him they would not deliver his mail unless his mailbox was in front of his property where the right-of-way runs. Calvin assured the resident that it could be settled.

Andrew Nickerson moved to Busch Drive four years ago.

“I am in favor of having a trail,” he said. “It is dangerous and there isn’t any good access to the beach or equestrian center.”

He suggested that the 60 feet of right-of-way flanking 25 feet of roadway is “far more than we really need. The unused land should be relinquished.”

A future meeting will be held to discuss further ideas.