Public Works director resigns


After creating Malibu’s Public Works Department and after nearly five years of overseeing the maintenance and repair of local roads and projects, Public Works Director John Clement is leaving. The Council announced Clement’s resignation at Monday’s meeting.

“The biggest problem I have is leaving the public works department staff and the city’s staff,” said Clement. “They’re like family to me.” Clement described the entire city staff as “passionate, caring professionals, more than I’ve seen in my 30-year career.”

Clement will leave Sept. 28 to become Public Works director of Santa Cruz. “The opportunity in Santa Cruz is just too great,” said Clement. “It’s a full-service city with a staff of 180 and probably close to a $40 million budget. It’s an older community, so it has a nice mix of the old, even to the Victorian, to the brand new. If I had a choice of any place to go, that’s the place I’d choose. It’s very, very exciting, but the challenge is really intimidating, too.” As for his motivation to leave Malibu, Clement said, “It was time.”

Recruitment for his position will begin immediately. “Good public works directors are always hard to find,” said City Manager Harry Peacock. “I don’t think we’ll get anybody on board until after the first of the year.”

To ease the transition, and to help take care of business during the recruitment process, Peacock said he will look for an interim replacement from a pool of retired professionals. This is similar to what he did when filling the city’s finance director spot. “It takes a couple of months just to get the word out,” Peacock said.

Although Clement will be officially on staff until the end of September, he will be spending two weeks vacationing in Australia.

Also at Monday’s meeting, 28 speakers signed up to voice their opinions about proposed speed tables on Point Dume. Speed tables were developed to address concerns of fire departments over traditional speed bumps. Speed tables can be crossed at higher speeds than the more prominent speed bumps, which results in less delay for emergency vehicles. Speed tables are 3 inches high and 22 inches long and typically cause motorists to lower their speeds to about 30 mph. Staff had recommended installing speed tables along the entire length of Fernhill Drive and Dume Drive to better manage traffic speeds 24 hours a day. Installation costs were to be borne by residents.

“Something must be done to slow this traffic down,” said Ryan Embree, who, like many Point residents, said he fears for the school children in the area.

“The speed humps would be the 24-hour policeman,” said resident Margaret Rollens.

Some residents told the council they moved to Point Dume because of its rural environment. “I bought it for its rural, natural feel,” said Pamela Ridley, who said speed humps and signs would be “citifying our community.”

“If we want to enhance the rural nature, we would be killing it with speed humps,” agreed Sam Hall Kaplan.

“Speed humps don’t give tickets,” said Embree. “They don’t slow people down. They just go faster over the humps.”

Other residents spoke against the speed tables for reasons of inconvenience and fear the tables would lengthen response time of emergency vehicles.

“If it’s your wife who is turning blue or your child who is choking, 10 seconds is a long time,” agreed Point resident Jim Star.

Thirty-year Point Dume resident Frank Basso said his daughter (now 27) was hit by a car on the Point while riding her bike. “This problem hasn’t gone away,” said Basso. “I think the fire department will learn to work with them.”

The council voted against installing speed tables 3-2 (Walt Keller and Carolyn Van Horn in favor). “I was concerned about the emergency response,” said Councilman Harry Barovsky. “The fire department said they would slow down emergency response. As far as I’m concerned, every second is essential.”

The council voted instead to increase traffic control by the Sheriff’s Department, to begin immediately. “The best way to slow people down is by police presence,” said Barovsky. The council also directed staff to explore alternative ways to lessen the problem.

In a separate agenda item, the council directed staff to send a letter to the Metro Transit Authority, requesting that bus service through the Point Dume neighborhood be reduced. The letter will ask the MTA to eliminate service of Bus Route 434 before 7:30 a.m., after 6:30 p.m., and between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Residents had previously voiced concerns of empty, sometimes speeding buses going through their neighborhood. Clement said a ridership study, conducted by MTA staff, showed there really wasn’t a demand. “They’re virtually empty, or maybe one passenger at best,” said Clement. “Why have a big, 30-foot bus running around in a residential area?”

The council also finalized changes to the city’s zoning legislation. The Planning Commission had approved a proposal reducing the minimum size of multifamily units from 800 square feet to 400 square feet, roughly the size of a two-car garage. The council reasoned this would allow development of efficiency- and one-bedroom units and help the city meet requirements for affordable housing.

“You could have six people living in that, and you’re creating a slum,” said Keller, who amended the motion to keep the 800-square-foot minimum.

Mayor Joan House proposed a minimum size of 750 square feet, which compromise the council approved.

Parking rules for multifamily units were settled: Studio and efficiency units must have two parking spaces per unit, one-bedroom units must have three.

Single-family zoning standards were relaxed to allow maximum front-yard setbacks to be 65 feet or 20 percent of the lot depth, whichever is less. Currently, setbacks must be 20 percent of the lot depth without any limit. The change will give owners of larger lots more room on which to build.

The meeting lasted until nearly 1 a.m., the council continuing the agenda two nights.