Traffic and development top concerns in Malibu

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Survey respondents say they do not want to see multi-story, mixed-use properties developed in Malibu, and that it has all the single-family homes it can accommodate.

By Mark Bassett/Special to The Malibu Times

Traffic on Pacific Coast Highway and concerns over growth and the preservation of open space were the most important issues concerning Malibu voters polled by the Las Virgenes/Malibu Council of Governments and the Southern California Associations of Governments (SCAG).

The SCAG-funded survey of approximately 500 voters from the area, conducted by the National Demographic Corporation, also found that 62 percent of Malibu voters were concerned that the city lacks adequate healthcare facilities, and that 60 percent would pay more taxes for quality facilities.

SCAG and Southern California Compass, an agency established to create a strategy for land use and development in Southern California, conducted the survey as part of a six-year intelligence gathering effort.

During a presentation last week at City Hall, Joe Carreras, lead regional planner, said the population of Los Angeles grew by six million over the last 25 years and that it is likely to increase another 6.2 million by 2030. He said that figure represents a growth between 12,700 and 17,000 in Malibu. Compass is developing ways to maximize the amount of green space, minimize traffic and stop urban sprawl.

“Smart growth opportunities can be limited to two percent of the existing regional land mass,” Carreras said. “We will conduct research and create plans until 2010 and begin implementing these plans from 2010 to 2030.”

Carreras explained to those in attendance, primarily local government officials and a few vocal citizens, that Compass relies heavily on the local visioning as part of the planning process. Terry Dipple, executive director of the Council of Governments, clarified this statement.

“The state has not been amenable to what the cities plan,” he said. “SCAG has been a way to show [the state] that these are real people with real concerns for the oceans and the hills.”

More than 60 percent of Malibu voters polled said population growth, development planning and the preservation of open spaces are what concern them most. While most felt there were enough parks and recreational facilities, there is a consensus that further development is frowned upon. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they do not want to see multi-story, mixed-use properties developed in Malibu, and 51 percent felt the city has all the single-family homes it can accommodate.

The second most pervasive response to an issue question was excessive traffic on Pacific Coast Highway. Traffic was also a primary concern for voters in the other communities that make up the Council of Governments: Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills and Westlake. Voters in these communities were concerned with traffic on the 101 Freeway-51 percent said the time that it takes to commute to work has increased over the past three years. As possible solutions to the traffic issue, 56 percent said they would support widening the 101 Freeway between Highway 23 and the 405 Freeway. Sixty-one percent would support a car pool lane, and 72 percent would support installing train service.

That so many people support trains service was no surprise to Mayor Sharon Barovsky.

“I’ve heard through the years that there is no way for people in Malibu to get to the West Side without driving,” Barovsky said.

As far as healthcare facilities, most voters preferred a smaller, local facility to serve Malibu’s needs rather than a larger one that would be shared with the other communities in the Council of Governments.

While 12 percent of all of the voters polled in the communities were concerned about the quality of their local school system, less than 2 percent of Malibu voters said the quality of Malibu schools were a concern.