PCH death instigates talks over highway bike safety

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The city council Monday night said it is possible that a bike path will be installed at the west end of Malibu. The council also approves a smoking ban, and design contract for Trancas Canyon Park.

By Olivia Damavandi / Staff Writer

City council’s Monday night meeting opened with a discussion about bicycle safety on Pacific Coast Highway, a topic that has received much attention since the highway death of a bicyclist at the end of June.

City Records Clerk Robert Sanchez has been named as a suspect in the June 28 bicycle accident that left one man dead and his son with several broken bones.

On June 28, a truck allegedly driven by Sanchez struck 45-year-old Rodrigo Armas and his 14-year-old son while they were cycling east along Pacific Coast Highway. Armas died at the scene of the accident, while his son suffered extensive leg injuries. Sanchez reportedly left the scene of the accident, abandoned his vehicle and hid in nearby brush before Sheriff’s deputies arrested him two hours later. Sanchez is also suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.

Due to legal concerns, city officials were careful with their words during the discussion, but City Manager Jim Thorsen said plans are in the works for a bike path along the highway to be constructed at the west end of Malibu.

“We met with Caltrans last week; they were encouraging and optimistic that a bike lane could be put out at that end of town,” Thorsen said at the meeting, adding that Caltrans had also presented opportunities for grant funding. “We’re going to get this thing off the ground as soon as possible,” he said.

Public smoking ban approved; council says yes to $100K Trancas Park contract

The council Monday night also unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance that will prohibit smoking in outdoor dining areas and at public events within the City of Malibu, beginning July 31.

Under the ordinance, smoking will be banned within 20 feet of a public event or outdoor dining area on public or private property. It will require businesses with outdoor dining areas to conspicuously post and maintain “no smoking” signs within the area, and also require the implementation of smoking waste receptacles, or freestanding ashtrays, at least 24 feet from business entrances. Where this is not possible, the waste receptacles must be located at the furthest points from the entrances.

The cost to implement the ordinance has not yet been determined, but will be based on the amount of public outreach and level of enforcement, a city report states.

The ordinance, however, was not the primary concern of residents, who attended the meeting to protest the council’s decision to authorize Thorsen to execute an agreement with RBF Consulting for engineering and design services of Trancas Canyon Park. Councilmembers Pamela Conley Ulich and Jefferson Wagner were the two dissenting votes.

The council voted 3-2 to approve the $99,890 professional services agreement with RBF Consulting for the $3.7 million Trancas Canyon Park project.

Council members in May voted to approve the latest Trancas Canyon Park design plan, which includes $153,500 in modifications for the $3.7 million park, despite support from many community members of an alternative park plan drafted by resident and architect Ron Goldman.

Residents say Goldman’s plan would knock $1 million off the park’s construction cost and reduce grading, but Mayor pro Tem Sharon Barovsky, echoing the sentiments of other city officials, said the plan is “a concept, because nothing has been proven.”

Malibu West resident Lynn Norton presented the council with a petition signed by 600 residents of Malibu and surrounding cities, in support of Goldman’s plan.

A lawsuit filed last month by Malibu Township Council, however, curtailed the council’s ability to comment on the matter.

“It [the petition] weighs heavily in my decision making, but much of my decision making is under constraint now because we are in a lawsuit,” Wagner said at the meeting. “So a lot of our feelings we cant express because of the lawsuit.”