Fire Safety, Homelessness Are Malibu’s Top Concerns

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The City of Malibu released an online survey on homelessness for local residents in late January. Among the information received? Thirty-three of 570 respondents have been homeless at some point in their lives.

The survey was designed by Public Safety Manager Susan Dueñas to cull community opinion on how to address homelessness. At the time, she wrote: “The city’s goal is to develop a plan that will enable us to help homeless individuals in a more effective way, mitigate public health and public safety impacts, and align our local efforts with those of the Los Angeles County region,”

A total of 572 people responded to the 15-question survey. Of 570 respondents, 88 percent of people live in Malibu; of 564 respondents, about 60 percent of people work in Malibu.

Survey respondents ranked fire safety as the top concern, followed by homelessness. Traffic/congestion followed, unsurprisingly. Over half of respondents—318 of 565—believe homelessness is a very serious problem in Malibu.

To address homelessness in the community, a majority of responses supported “provide readily available treatment for mental illness and substance abuse,” “develop a case management program for individuals released from jail, medical care, mental health programs and other institutions to prevent homelessness,” and “collaborate with neighboring cities and the County to leverage investments and provide services and housing.” 

In a phone call with The Malibu Times, Dueñas confirmed that the city was already in talks with neighboring areas.

“We want to develop a strategy with Santa Monica for sure, and [Pacific] Palisades actively,” she said. “Recently, we’ve been meeting monthly. We had our first meeting—a Palisades-Malibu coordination group.” 

The city also intends to reach out to Agoura Hills, Calabasas and “cities on the other side of the hills.” 

By establishing communication among cities, Dueñas hopes to create a united stance on zero tolerance for encampments. For example, she explained that if a fire started from an encampment in Pacific Palisades, there was a chance Malibu could be affected.

“All the cities that could be impacted by an encampment … we need to [have] zero tolerance,” she said. “We have to all be on the same page.” 

Currently, the city is finalizing a $30,000 Measure H regional grant to help “offset staff costs spent on coordination (going to meetings, etc.) as well as publishing a guide specific to our area on strategies to address issues related to homelessness,” Dueñas clarified in an email. 

Malibu has already received a $50,000 grant from LA County (based on a determination that there were 180 “unsheltered persons” in Malibu in 2017) to establish and execute a Homeless Strategic Plan.

According to the survey, 244 people left responses for the city in regard to homelessness. While The Malibu Times did not have access to these results, Dueñas said based on her impression, the city was on the right track.

“We’re focusing on getting homeless people into services,” she said, later adding it was “something that the community can get behind.” 

As for what’s next, the city will be hosting a community meeting to discuss the findings and discuss a draft of the Homeless Strategic Plan. 

“We don’t have a date set yet,” Dueñas said. “The idea is [that] the plan should be drafted by the end of this month.

“The plan is going to have some very specific measurable objectives.” 

For the specific numbers gathered from the survey on homelessness, visit malibucity.org/homeless-survey.