As you may or not be aware there have been at least three fires at the bottom of Tuna Canyon Road in the last month. They were accidentally set by the homeless who are encamped down there. Fortunately, the county fire department was able to contain them all to a few acres. The weather cooperated. One person has been arrested.
The City of Malibu in conjunction with the landowner, the sheriff’s department, fire department and homeless outreach went in and cleared the encampments within the city limits on Nov. 19. There are still encampments farther up the canyon in the county jurisdiction, and I have seen some of the homeless moving their belongings farther up.
The county, through Sheila Keuhl’s office, refuses to address the problem. I am sympathetic with the homeless problem and aware that it is only going to get worse when the moratorium on evictions is lifted in January. Any solution needs to take all stakeholders into consideration. It needs to be addressed humanely and compassionately.
That being said, homeless encampments in a brush zone can not be allowed to exist. They put all of us at risk, and by their inaction the county puts itself in a position of liability. It is much cheaper to prevent a fire than it is to fight one. Even if the fire department is 90 percent effective in suppressing the fires, that leaves one in 10 that could become the equivalent of the Woolsey Fire. With climate change, the fire danger increases every year, and you need to know if you lose your house you will lose the lifestyle you now enjoy forever. The county will not let you rebuild your home the way it exists right now.
Only a few of the burnouts from the Woolsey Fire have been rebuilt; the rest are still trying to navigate a maze of regulations and permit fees. The best approach is prevention. Kuehl’s refusal to address the problem is the moral equivalent of not wearing a mask in the pandemic. If they do not participate, all of the work Malibu has done is wasted. She seems to have other priorities than the residents of the mountains. We were much better served by Zev Yaraslovsky and Susan Nissman.
The only way to get this issue addressed properly is for Sheila Keuhl to hear from all of us; there is power in numbers, and it is not an “us versus them” issue. We are not criminalizing the homeless. There can be a solution that helps all parties and will be cheaper than another massive fire. Please email or call Tessa Charnofsky, TCharnofsky@bos.lacounty.gov 818.880.9416. Always cc Sheila Keuhl, firstname.lastname@example.org and contact the LA County Counsel’s office: email@example.com 213.974.1811.
Let them know that Sheila Keuhl is putting the county at risk of a major lawsuit, equivalent to the one that bankrupted PG&E.