Homelessness Task Force members express frustrations with lack of parking enforcement


During the Homeless Task Force meeting on Oct. 18, members raised questions and concerns with the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department and the enforcement of parking ordinances and illegal camping along Pacific Coast Highway and surrounding neighborhoods.

Member Kelly Pessis presented the Fire, Health, and Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee report and recommendations. The report addressed fire threats, traffic fatalities, homeless impact on businesses, and drug use.  

“We need to work on our rules and our laws and our ordinances so that when our outreach people are going through these sites, they can take these propane containers because they don’t belong in a wildland setting where they’re going to cause a fire,” Pessis said. 

The ad hoc committee hopes to improve enforcement of petty crimes, keep vacant lots cleared, increase citations for unsafe, uninsured, and unregistered vehicles and consider anti-panhandling laws and signage. 

Pessis said businesses should be able to receive support such as information about panhandling laws and receiving resources such as a dedicated hotline. 

“We need a city hotline where we can track where those calls are coming from and what the nature of the calls are for two reasons, for us [homeless task force] and also for the public,” Pessis said. 

For more on community and business involvement, Pessis said a quarterly roundtable meeting with city law enforcement and stakeholders where two-way feedback can be given should be organized. 

Task Force Member Scott Dittrich added to the discussion on the camping ordinance.

“We discussed this at the last meeting; we’re not getting the level of enforcement from the sheriff’s that we need about the motorhomes,” Dittrich said. “It particularly impacts us trying to deal with homeless, I don’t think the cities caught up with social media and the impact that really has.”

Task Force Member Chris Frost shared his frustrations with not receiving enforcement from the sheriff’s department.

“The bottom line is, we paid for a car and we got gypped; I can’t be more direct about it,” Frost said. “I’m not happy about it at all.”

Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas said she has spoken to Lt. Dustin Carr and said they had developed a plan to dedicate at least two nights a week to focus on RV enforcement.

“We absolutely get a handle on the RVs because to me part of it is a perception thing, a perception that negatively impacts the sheriff’s department and the City of Malibu that laws are not being enforced, which is not good,” Dueñas said. “The ultimate goal is to get to a point where they can start towing them because he acknowledges that that’s the only way you’re going to get rid of these is the threat of telling them.”

Dueñas acknowledged the city and what the outreach team is doing in regards to homeless numbers compared to other cities.

“Maybe we need to look at what they’ve done and how is it that we reduced our numbers almost in half and what is it that’s working because we’re obviously doing something right,” Dueñas said. “It’s not solved overnight; it’s not gone, and yes there are still problems, but Beverly Hills doubled since the last count, so I just want to say, please have some pride in what we’re doing and acknowledge what we’re doing right, as well as areas where we can improve.”

Dittrich motioned to increase enforcement of codes, ordinances, and laws related to illegally parked vehicles, authorize utilization of the crime suppression car for this purpose and allocate funds for at least two emergency beds. Task Force Member Terry Davis seconded the motion, and the motion carried. 

The panel motioned to continue the Public Engagement and Outreach Plan to the next meeting.

The next Homeless Task Force meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15.