Council grinds on about bumps

Hoping to give Point Dume residents an opportunity to try out a kinder, gentler alternative to the widely despised speed bump, Mayor Pro Tem Walt Keller asked his colleagues at Monday’s City Council meeting to back his proposal to place a temporary speed table on Fernhill Drive. Council members voted down his proposal, citing a perception that Point Dume residents do not want any traffic-calming devices that even remotely resemble speed bumps.

The council voted instead to direct city staff to research the variety of traffic-calming devices available, and in a separate measure, voted to conduct a poll of Point Dume residents for a definitive take on their opinion of speed bumps.

Residents have long complained of racing drivers in their neighborhood, particularly on Dume and Fernhill drives, but many residents say they do not want speed bumps as a way to slow drivers down because they regard the humps as ugly and a nuisance. Emergency personnel say they tend to slow down their emergency-response time, as fire engines and ambulances must come to almost a complete stop before driving over each bump.

Keller thought speed tables, which are lower to the ground and flatter on top than speed bumps, might be an acceptable alternative. He said he wanted to allow Point Dume residents an opportunity to have one on a trial basis on one of their most speed-prone streets.

Point Dume residents Andrew Stern and Frank Basso encouraged the council to back Keller’s proposal, but Don McClay, another resident, said he did not think speed tables are appropriate for Malibu. “They are part and parcel of suburbia, which we are not,” McClay said.

Council members Tom Hasse and Carolyn Van Horn debated the location of the proposed speed table. Hasse said he would not support one on a public street, but suggested Point Dume Shopping Center as an alternative site. Van Horn, who supported Keller’s proposal, said it should go near Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School because of the speeders’ threat to children’s safety. “Let’s put it where we can save someone from being hit,” she said.

Hasse said he did not want to go against what he feels are the wishes of residents. “I don’t believe the majority of residents in your neighborhood want them,” he said.

Mayor Joan House prevailed on her separate motion that city staff provide an analysis of all the different kinds of traffic-calming devices.

Apparently in a poll-taking mood after approving one for parks and recreation earlier in the day [see story, A1], the council also backed a motion by Hasse to survey Point residents on the issue of speed bumps. “When I ran for council, we said we would listen to the neighbors,” said Councilman Harry Barovsky.

In other business, the council instructed city staff and the Planning Commission to propose an amendment to the temporary permit section of the zoning ordinance, in light of a recent concert party at a private home.

The city, in August, approved a permit for a performance by the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish for 800 guests at a Malibu Park home. Neighboring residents complained of the noise and because they were not notified of the party.

“We had no idea this was coming,” resident Hans Laetz told the council. He asked the council to amend the ordinance so permits for rock concerts would not be granted. Laetz also told council members that off-duty sheriff deputies working at the party ignored residents’ complaints. He asked the council to consider requiring that deputies be more responsive when they work off-duty at special events in the city.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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