The deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol last week has Malibu Public Safety Commissioners looking at our own security. Hours after the violent attack in Washington D.C., the commission held its regularly scheduled Zoom meeting. It was there, in the wake of the astonishingly brazen attack, that Commissioner Dane Skophammer suggested Malibu consider metal detectors at City Hall “in light of what happened today.” For the sake of elected officials and employees, Skophammer said, “I think we should be doing everything we can to secure them.”
Commission Chair Chris Frost related that online vitriol he has read led him to believe a couple of people could “possibly pose a threat,” adding, “I completely agree with this concept. Most meeting places you go into now where there’s any kind of debates about anything” have security measures. All the commissioners agreed to table the discussion for a future meeting.
Focusing on the speeding problem that has been plaguing Malibu, especially during the pandemic, commissioners are hoping to find funds for a new speed gun they called a “game changer.” The latest radar gun technology adds cameras that can take photos while clocking speeders. The speed guns cost roughly $1,500 minimum. With a couple of fatal speeding accidents on Pacific Coast Highway last year, the new technology could be of use in catching violators. One commissioner said a recent racer on PCH was clocked at 102 miles per hour. The car in that incident was impounded. The commission is also looking into raising impound fees to cover time billed by the LA County Sheriff’s Department. The proposed fee would run $140 to $150.
The commission is trying to fix another traffic related problem—making a seamless transition to battery or generator backup for signals on PCH when power is out in Malibu during an emergency or PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutoff). There are currently 19 signals with battery backup, but each backup battery lasts a different length of time. Frost reported six traffic collisions the last two times signals were out during power failures.
“Somebody’s going to die in one of these accidents,” Frost predicted.
Parking restrictions along PCH will continue in an effort to prevent permanent campers from homesteading at the beach in what many locals call “seaside shantytowns.” Since overnight parking restriction signs were erected at Las Tunas Beach after the city received a coastal development permit in March 2020, fewer overnight campers have been reported. At one point, 110 motor homes were identified as fixtures along PCH.
“This is not a campground,” Frost said. “The guys [Volunteers on Patrol] are getting the word out. We’re coming for you.”
But the policy is not without controversy.
“Ultimately, we’re just squeezing them to other areas,” Commissioner Keegan Gibbs said. “Continuing this is a futile effort. We’re going to continue to see a rise in homeless in Malibu.” Acknowledging that some who live in campers are drug dealers, Gibbs added, “We’ve got to figure out a better way.”
VOP Team Leader Mark Russo confirmed that drugs, guns, checks, stolen property and stolen computers from Pepperdine have been seized from some campers. Frost rebutted, “It’s the only path we have presently.” Additional staggered overnight parking restrictions are being proposed along PCH: from Trancas Canyon to Broad Beach Road, from Corral Canyon to Latigo, from Webb Way to Cross Creek and between Heathercliff and Portshead.
Finally, retiring Fire Safety Liaison Jerry Vandermeulen updated the commission on AB 3074, a new law approved by the governor in September 2020. The new California law, “unlike our program here, which is voluntary, requires a five-foot ember resistant zone around all homes that fall under the defensible space criteria already in existence.” Vandermeulen iterated the LA County fire department would have ultimate jurisdiction. Eventually, penalties will be fined to homeowners who do not comply.