Public Forum / By Matt Borenzweig

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Wake-up call

Malibu has lost one of our children, Emily Rose Shane. While Emily was a cherished member of the Shane family first, she was also a child of Malibu, one of our priceless children. Our family certainly feels as though Emily was, and still is, one of ours-a surrogate daughter and sister if you will.

One of the remarkable aspects of life in Malibu is the amazing closeness that we display toward each other when the chips are down and, especially, the love we all feel for our kids. We have never seen a place where children are so cared for and nurtured. Emily certainly fit in that category. She was so loved by her family and all of us. For the thousand-plus people who attended Emily’s services, we are sure that is obvious to all of you.

Anyone who knew Emily will tell you about her loving and caring heart, her affectionate nature, her positive outlook, her trying hard at everything she did. She was, simply put, an angel. We all feel the pain and anguish of her tragic death; it is surreal and abstract, like a bad dream.

Out of our grief, and in honor of Emily and the Shane family, we simply must take action as a community to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again. We must put aside the petty squabbling over what are often trivial issues and fix the greatest problem we have. That is that Pacific Coast Highway has become one of the most dangerous streets in California-it is a kill zone.

We call on everyone who lives in Malibu and all interested parties in power to consider taking the following actions:

Install a permanent “K rail,” a concrete impassable barrier from Topanga to County Line. We realize that this would not have prevented Emily’s death due to the circumstances, however, there have been too many accidents, many with fatalities, where the cause was a car crossing the center median. In fact, just one day before Emily died there was such an accident at the intersection of Broad Beach and PCH. This accident was caused by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the canter median into oncoming traffic and hit and killed a driver on the opposite side of the road.

For those thinking that plastic candlestick markers work, just hang around Zuma Beach for a while on a sunny beach day and you will probably see cars making illegal U-turns right through the candlesticks that are currently deployed there. In other words, these minimal barriers do not stop cars from crossing the center median.

PCH was designed many years ago and it was not intended to be used by so many cars. The lack of a permanent barrier allows people, sometimes inebriated, to make illegal U-turns and, in general, cross the center median in a dangerous and often lethal manner. We have just had too many accidents and deaths on PCH; this is a call to action.

I know there are some who think that Malibu should remain “rural” and that a barrier will affect the aesthetic look of PCH. The fact is, however, that we live in L.A., there are millions of people surrounding us, Malibu ceased to be rural a long time ago. We do not see Ralph Lauren and such high-end stores in truly rural areas such as Wyoming, Montana, Ohio, Michigan and like places. We need a concrete impassable center median barrier to be safe. That trumps aesthetics.

We need the CHP back in Malibu, patrolling PCH. Do you all know that we only have a couple of Sheriff’s deputies patrolling PCH at any given time? This is woefully inadequate given the amount of traffic and dangers on PCH. Could the CHP respond faster and stop more tragedies from happening? We think so. The CHP are professional highway managers, the Sheriffs are great crime mitigates. Let’s have the CHP here to manage PCH and the Sheriffs here to prevent crime.

It is confounding that the CHP have been eliminated from patrolling Malibu based on petty political and financial issues. They did patrol PCH before city hood so why shouldn’t they do the same now? Life is priceless, and the squabbling over this issue needs to stop. We must have an adequate number of CHP officers to protect everyone from the hazards of PCH no matter what the costs are.

Parking on either side of PCH along the length of Zuma and up to Zuma Sushi should be made illegal immediately. There have been numerous traffic accidents and several deaths on this stretch of PCH in the least few years. It is much safer to have people park in the Zuma Beach pay lots. We realize this might meet resistance due to the cost to people, but it is a better alternative than having people walking nearby and crossing PCH in a dangerous manner. It is ludicrous and dangerous to drivers and pedestrians alike to have people walking across PCH in traffic at anytime.

We should move to change the name of Heathercliff Road to “Emily Rose Lane” or a similar name that the Shanes approve. Emily died at the intersection of Heathercliff and PCH. Changing the street name to Emily’s will serve as a lasting reminder of her loving memory for generations to come.