Civic Center Way task force hears complaints

The Civic Center Way Blue Ribbon Task Force, meeting for the first time Wednesday evening, moved ahead at full speed to address traffic concerns in the Civic Center Way/Winter Canyon Road area.

Heavy cross-canyon (“Z”) traffic near two elementary schools, Webster Elementary and Our Lady of Malibu, prompted the Malibu City Council to blockade Civic Center Way between Winter Canyon Road and Vista Pacifica in August. That closure was to last six months, during which time it was to be evaluated as a possible permanent solution.

However, public outcry against the closure was so great that the council abandoned the project after only four weeks. Task force member Chris Frost, a Malibu realtor, spearheaded the citizens’ campaign to reopen Civic Center Way. The council then created the Blue Ribbon Task Force to study the problem and propose solutions by June 2004.

City Maintenance Manager Richard Calvin will advise the task force and serve as liaison between the task force and the city staff. Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Jim Mee also sits on the task force as an advisory member. Meeting in the City Council Chambers of City Hall, the task force elected Carol Randall as chair and Chris Hasselquist as vice chair. Randall serves as the chair of the city’s Public Safety Commission. Hasselquist, owner of Malibu Web, is the incoming president of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. The task force scheduled two meetings in January, one on Jan. 14 at 10 a.m., and one on Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Agendas for the meetings will be posted on the city’s Web site at www.ci.malibu.ca.us.

The task force then invited members of the public to speak.

Georgianna McBurney, a longtime community activist who sits on the city’s Telecommunications Commission, said she “came to see whose hands my life was in, and I’m very satisfied.”

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McBurney urged the task force to consider the potential effect of impending hotel construction in the area.

The members of the task force then proceeded to discuss the traffic issues.

Jim May, a 46-year Malibu resident whose three daughters attended Webster, said the problem had been overstated. He said northbound drivers usually lower their speeds in the school zone. May recommended that the city install flashing yellow lights and “Children Present” signs if necessary to mitigate the traffic problem. Ryan Embree, vice chair of the Public Safety Commission, disagreed with May, saying the traffic has gotten significantly worse in recent years and poses a greater threat as the number of students and condominium residents in the area continues to rise.

Marlene Matlow, also on the Public Safety Commission, suggested that the city install a three-way stop sign before proceeding to more costly measures such as traffic signals. She also asked the task force to consider making a “field trip” to the location. Hasselquist asked the task force to define the scope of its investigation. Mark Olson, regional manager of Southern California Edison and recently president of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, said the City Council apparently intended the task force to focus on the intersection of Civic Center Way and Winter Canyon Road.

Task force member Susan Rowton, the mother of two Webster students, suggested that the task force consider other traffic issues in the area. Embree also wanted to study the impact of any actions taken at Civic Center Way and Winter Canyon Road on other intersections.

Calvin informed the task force that its published agenda confined its discussion to “how this Task Force will proceed to address the traffic concerns on Civic Center Way/Winter Canyon Road in Malibu,” and cautioned the task force against discussing matters not on the agenda.

Olson asked Calvin to have city staff present reports and recommendations based on previous traffic studies. Calvin said he would either bring a traffic engineer to the next meeting or have reports prepared by staff available.

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