City to pursue reinstating CHP in Malibu

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Recent highway deaths and cries from local residents to improve safety along Pacific Coast Highway have prompted Malibu officials to get the California Highway Patrol to provide traffic enforcement.

By Olivia Damavandi / Assistant Editor

Spurred by the fatal accidents that occurred last month along Pacific Coast Highway and the urging by local residents to make the highway safer, the Malibu City Council on Monday night directed its staff to begin the process to reinstate traffic enforcement services by the California Highway Patrol on the highway within city limits.

Members of the Public Safety Commission and A Safer Pacific Coast Highway, as well as other groups, also delivered updates on recent measures that are being taken to improve highway safety.

Since its incorporation nearly 20 years ago, the City of Malibu has contracted with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to provide both traffic and criminal enforcement throughout the city, including along Pacific Coast Highway.

Requested by recently elected Councilmember Lou La Monte, the short-term goal is to reinstate CHP service at no additional cost to the city. The long-term goal, however, is to eliminate the language in the California Vehicle Code that specifies CHP service in Malibu will be provided if requested by the city, and if a contract is entered into between the state and the city. Also, if a contract is made for services, Malibu must pay for the service.

La Monte announced that he and Councilmember Laura Rosenthal next week Tuesday are meeting with Malibu/Lost Hills’ Sheriff’s Captain Joseph Stephens to discuss further safety measures. In addition, City Manager Jim Thorsen has arranged a June 15 meeting with the Secretary of Transportation at the state capitol.

“We are going to Sacramento to plead our case with the CHP about how much more has to happen before they get back out here,” La Monte said Monday night.

Malibu is one of two cities in the state that does not receive traffic enforcement from the CHP for its state roads. Santa Clara is the other city.

The loss of the CHP dates back to 1991 when Malibu became a city. In doing so, the city assumed responsibility for the roads and the highway in Malibu, as well as law enforcement, and entered into an exclusive contract with the Sheriff’s Department. Some Malibu city officials in past interviews have said the decision was made because it would be more cost effective to have just the Sheriff’s Department patrol the highway, since the CHP provides only traffic enforcement.

The city in past years has also said it doesn’t have the money to also contract the CHP.

But with the passing of April as one of the deadliest months in PCH history, community members have also united to explore other possible ways to increase safety along the highway.

Public Safety Commissioner Carol Randall announced that Qwick Kurbs, yellow-panel channelization devices that help prevent illegal turns, will be installed next week on the highway at Las Flores Canyon Road and Big Rock “to help protect left turn lanes where we have a high percentage of accidents annually.”

The Qwick Kurbs have also recently been installed on Pacific Coast Highway alongside Zuma Beach.

Some residents, including ASPCH member Susan Saul, also suggested that Public Safety Commission meetings be televised locally on Channel 3. Doing so, they said, would help keep community members abreast with current safety advancements and also provide opportunities for them to get involved with the efforts.

“The Public Safety Commission needs to have a face,” Saul told the council. “Its meetings need to be televised. We need to give them some more credit.”