Guest Editorial: Sirens, Silence Spell Trouble on PCH

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PCH Mudslide Closure

It was the day of the surf championships this summer. I was on my way to Ralphs when suddenly the highway became eerily quiet. Quiet gets your attention around here, not noise. Soon, I was up the highway checking out the source of the silence. A downed power pole shut down both sides of the road with no way in or out. 

It was the same story during a recent rainstorm when a drenched power pole near Sunset began burning and nearly fell over. 

“[Westbound] traffic was diverted up Topanga Canyon,” said Kathy May, who works sales at The Malibu Times and got stuck in the gridlock. “That didn’t work out too well. I got in line and traffic wasn’t moving at all. I ended up turning around, going over Malibu Canyon to the 101 to the 405. I had a doctor’s appointment in Santa Monica and it took me two hours to get there.” 

Malibu’s transportation lifeline was closed for hours. To top it off, the rain was pounding. 

This week we dealt with more slow-go or no-go traffic, including a 9-mile PCH closure, which caused a massive mudslide in unincorporated Ventura County between Malibu and Camarillo. 

Silence isn’t the only thing that will get your attention out here. There are sirens — sheriff’s, fire, paramedics. Few drivers also seem to observe the speed limit and vehicles racing up and down the highway at 7 a.m. doesn’t help matters. I’ve seen every kind of mangled mess you can imagine, with drivers hitting speeds of 70, 80, even 90 MPH. 

As a 20-year resident of Malibu who has always lived on or near the highway, wherever you are, you sure know what’s going on. Both my house and The Malibu Times are located in the vicinity of PCH and Las Flores Canyon Road. The intersection is among the most dangerous in town. For everything from medical emergencies to accidents, brush fires to slides, we know when there’s something happening and sometimes I only need to walk out of my door to find out. We hear the sirens blare, we hear the silence, and with the highway’s current configuration, we manage the best we can. There aren’t many easy answers and don’t expect that to change anytime soon.