Residents say parking, traffic problematic at Pavilions

A Pavilions employee's car is towed from Heathercliff Road, where the new market is located. During its opening celebrations last week, many attendees and employees parked illegally because of lack of parking in the newly remodeled Point Dume Village shopping center. Photo by Nora Fleming / TMT

Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern says Pavilions and Point Dume Village management are handling the situation properly.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

Last week’s grand opening of the Pavilions grocery store in Point Dume Village brought in a large number of shoppers and new employees. And with that, some residents say, traffic and parking issues have been created. Nearby residents say the problems are the result of poor planning and the city’s failure to listen to the community. But Malibu officials say they have done everything they can to alleviate the situation.

Point Dume residents called the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s station and City Hall during opening week to complain that employees and customers were parking illegally on residential streets. The residents said this was due to a lack of sufficient parking spots in the mall to meet the needs of an increased number of customers and an instruction by plaza management for employees to find spots outside the parking lot.

“Of course it’s nice to have a market at this end of Malibu, but the parking invasion is horrendous,” Point Dume resident Sherri Perry wrote in an e-mail to City Council members. “We most object to the non-assumption of responsibility of all parties concerned in the pursuit of growth.”

Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern said in an interview this week he was concerned about residents’ complaints and drove out to the site four to five times. He said he was surprised to find what he called a proper handling of the situation.

“The first couple of days were crazy, no doubt about it,” Stern said. “But they [property management] took immediate steps to handle it. They did everything they could at Pavilions.”

Stern said Pavilions manager Bill Johnson told him employees were instructed to park on Pacific Coast Highway, not on residential streets. The mayor pro tem said Johnson also told him he had increased the number of cashiers for the opening week to make sure an increased number of customers would be in and out of the store as quickly as possible. He said more than 50 percent of the current traffic is expected to be freed up within the first two weeks.

Malibu/Lost Hills Sgt. Jeff Price said after last week’s complaints and an inspection of the area, officials from the station and the city began painting the curbs red and re-striping the street. Price said officers cited employees and residents with tickets for illegal parking.

“We’re aware of a few problems down there and are working with the city to correct them,” Price said. “We are going to take enforcement action to try to resolve the parking issues … some of which are caused by the market opening and possibly some employees parking on Dume [Road]. Others, it appears, are residents who have been parking on Heathercliff for a number of years, illegally.”

Another possibility to deal with the issue is a future parking structure. Mall owner Zan Marquis earlier this month told The Malibu Times it was a possibility. A coastal development permit for a parking structure would require approval from the Planning Commission, and an approval could be appealed to the City Council and the California Coastal Commission.

Point Dume resident Tami Clark has kept correspondence with city officials about the Pavilions before and after the opening. She said if residents’ concerns had been addressed ahead of time with plans for permit parking and proper signage, many of the current traffic and parking problems would not exist.

“There was absolutely no oversight by anybody about what was going on,” said Clark, who said Marquis was allowed to do what he wanted during construction of the Pavilions and other plaza remodeling without city oversight, to the detriment of the neighborhood.

Marquis purchased what was then known as Point Dume Plaza in 2005. He wrote in an e-mail to The Malibu Times that he worked to renovate the complex to make it more accessible and useful for area residents.

“Our property manager has met with city staff as well as with those neighbors expressing concerns, and we are trying to alleviate those concerns to the [greatest] extent possible.” He added, “The overwhelming majority of local comments received by the center management and store personnel have been positive, including comments by immediate neighbors.”

Additionally, some of the concerns that have been brought forward by residents, such as permit parking, cannot be handled immediately, said Councilmember Sharon Barovsky.

“I’m all for [permit parking] and at our next meeting we will ask that it be put on our agenda,” Barovsky wrote in an e-mail response to Perry’s complaint. “But again, it will probably require Coastal Commission permission, and that also takes time, assuming they will grant us what they want.”