Point Dume’s Complicated History

Without many places to park, visitors to Point Dume struggle to find spots in the few designated areas.

When city council met in March to discuss a proposed traffic management plan for the Point Dume area, they hesitated to remove “No Parking” signs, saying they didn’t want to make the change until they were sure why they were placed there in the first place. This moment of uncertainty is indicative of Point Dume’s complex history.

Point Dume’s parking and beach access disagreements stretch back a long way.

In 2000, the California Coastal Commission developed a project intending to increase public access to the neighborhood’s beaches and natural areas. Called the Point Dume Natural Preserve Site Improvements Project, the intervention was brought on in part by the city’s placement of large boulders across parking spots near the preserve.

“We placed some boulders that they were none too happy about,” City Attorney Christi Hogin recalled while discussing the plan.

In October 2000, the coastal commission made it clear to the city that a permit was required to decrease parking on the streets of Point Dume.

The Malibu Local Coastal Program (LCP), signed into law in 2002, was designed to clear up these types of issues.

Malibu’s LCP specifically prohibits developments that restrict public beach access, such as “No Parking” signs, red curbing, physical barriers, parking time limits or preferential parking programs — however, there is an exception for instances where public safety is at risk.

In instances where the city may add “No Parking” signs, it is required to create an equivalent number of parking spaces nearby. 

Another way to increase access

The Coastal Commission’s plan for Point Dume in 2000 also laid out plans for a shuttle bus program from Westward Beach to Point Dume. The shuttle was intended to reduce the need for parking spaces in the area.

The shuttle ran every day during summer months and only on weekends and holidays throughout the rest of the year. The operational cost was roughly $50,000 per year. 

Despite good intentions, the shuttle bus became known as the “ghost bus,” due to the fact no one used its services. Tied up in a government agreement, the ghost bus ran for 11 years from 2000-11 before its operation finally ceased. 

“We ran the shuttle faithfully for the amount of time our agreement required it,” Hogin said. “The fact is, it was an under-utilized program.”

Hogin went on to say the shuttle may have been unpopular because it “wasn’t electric,” and didn’t impress visitors. “People would make fun of us,” she said.

Some Malibu residents have suggested that with the boom of social media and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the popularity of a shuttle bus to Point Dume could be successful in 2016. 

Moving forward

The City of Malibu is looking into residents’ traffic safety concerns through a neighborhood survey that is available to Point Dume residents until Aug. 5.

The original proposal, which included removal of many of the encroachments on Point Dume, was met with an enormous public backlash on the point. 

In response to the public backlash, the Aug. 8 city council agenda includes an item that would allow council to suspend the ordinance stipulating encroachment removal in Point Dume and to consider instead other means.