City awarded $14 million for PCH upgrades

The PCH Bike Route Improvement Project would include a two-foot-wide buffer zone (such as pictured above) and a bike line six feet wide on both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. It would run for eight miles on the west side of Malibu. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Department of Transportation

Fresh off a year in which a series of tragedies highlighted ongoing concerns about traffic and cycling safety on Pacific Coast Highway, City Manager Jim Thorsen announced Monday that the City of Malibu has won $14 million in transportation funding for improvements to PCH and several intersections. 

The funding, doled out by the county’s Metro Transportation Authority (MTA), will be spread out over four fiscal years with the first installment coming in July, according to Thorsen. 

“Fourteen million dollars will go a long ways,” he said. “We have $2.2 million coming our way in 2013.” 

The MTA funding is made possible by Measure R, a $40-billion traffic relief and improvement tax passed by L.A. County voters in 2008. It raised sales taxes a half-cent for 30 years. 

The city plans on using the first millions for several projects, including a bike lane project on the west end of town, lane configuration improvements and PCH intersection improvements such as a left-turn signal at Big Rock. Raised medians, arrestor bed improvements and redesign work at Civic Center Way are among other items on the to-do list. 

“We’ve got a lot of projects,” Thorsen said. “We’ve got a small staff with a lot of work to do on these.” 

City officials also plan on taking feedback from an ongoing PCH Safety Study to determine the most worrisome areas needing work in Malibu. 

PCH safety came under heightened scrutiny last year as multiple people lost their lives in accidents on the busy highway. 

The death of 32-year-old cyclist Marisela Echeverria last October after her bike tire apparently got caught in the road, causing her to veer in front of an eastbound MTA bus on PCH near Puerco Canyon Road. Echeverria was pulled under the bus and crushed by a rear wheel. 

A 15-year-old was also killed in a head-on car collision last October when the eastbound car he rode in swerved into oncoming traffic on PCH at Rambla Pacifico Road. Roman Jimenez of Los Angeles died at the scene and the accident shut down PCH for eight hours. 

City to consider axing four committees 

In an effort to save the city staff time and resources, the City Council will consider dismantling several committees at a special meeting Tuesday evening in which the council will also review a mid-year financial report for the 2012-2013 Fiscal year. 

The council met as The Malibu Times went to press Tuesday. For updates on the outcome, check 

On the chopping block are the Trails Master Plan Advisory Committee, Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee, Architects and Engineers Technical Advisory Committee, and Economic Advisory Committee. 

A recommendation to cut the four committees comes from Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilman John Sibert, who began working together last May on an ad hoc committee to determine if any of the city’s eight commissions or five committees needed to be reorganized or disbanded. 

“There would be savings in overtime and personnel costs to prepare agenda, minutes, staff reports and have staff attend the meetings,” City Clerk Lisa Pope wrote in a staff report. 

The Economic, Trails Master Plan and Architects/Engineers Advisory Committees are no longer useful, according to La Monte and Sibert’s findings. 

The Architects/Engineers Committee last met in 2009 to discuss revisions to the city’s General Plan. The Trails Committee last met with staff on an “as-needed basis” when the California Coastal Commission raised questions about Malibu’s Parkland and Trails System Map in 2011. The Economic Committee was formed to help develop an economic element of the city’s master plan, but struggled to find its footing between 2000 and 2010. 

La Monte and Sibert also found that responsibilities of the Native American Resources Committee could be “more effectively and efficiently achieved by staff efforts and consultation with experts.” The committee was created to provide recommendations on uses of Native American Resources, heritage preservation and educational programs. 

“The ad hoc committee reviewed and considered the current commissions, committees and boards and for efficiency purposes, has determined that updates and revisions are necessary,” the staff report said. “The ad hoc committee consulted with residents, members of commissions and committees, City department heads, staff and the City Manager.” 

Sibert and La Monte are also suggesting creating a five-member executive board for the 16-member Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission, one of the city’s eight commissions. 

“The remaining 11 members will participate in discussions and provide recommendations to the executive board,” the report said. “The executive board would have final approval of all actions by majority vote.” 

Additionally, Sibert and La Monte want city staff to draft a policy limiting an individual’s service to one commission, committee or board at a time.