Letter to the Editor: My letter to the Malibu Planning Commission

Dear Editor, 

My letter to the Malibu Planning Commission

Commissioners: I write in opposition to the proposed 14-space Parking Lot-F accessed from Clover Heights avenue. 

We have been homeowners at the junction of Harvester Road and Clover Heights Avenue in Malibu since 2012.

We and our neighbors on Clover Heights and Harvester Road will be directly and adversely impacted by the construction of Parking Lot-F, the lighted walkways, and parking lot standards. The increased traffic, noise, and lighting would irreparably shatter our tranquil community and destroy our dark skies.  

Malibu Park is treasured for its natural setting and quiet neighborhood. Equestrians can be seen daily walking their horses and riding on the roads en route to the Equestrian Center. Clover Heights is used every day by people of all ages. It is a safe place for the elderly to take their obligatory one-mile walks. Children play on skateboards, bikes, and on foot with their dogs creating a happy neighborhood environment.

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Inserting teenagers driving too fast trying to make it to a class or game into this environment is of critical concern. There are no sidewalks. The street is very narrow and on a downhill grade. An increase in traffic would inevitably cause accidents and, potentially, serious injuries.

Since the Woolsey Fire, we have been working to rebuild our homes and our community. If the proposed parking lot is constructed, we risk losing all that we have tried so hard to regain over the past three years.

Malibu Park residents strive to encourage the return of a strong, balanced ecosystem — a healthy, natural, pesticide-free equilibrium. Together with the coyotes that run through our neighborhood, the owls and hawks help to limit the gopher, rat, and rabbit populations.

An unattended, upper parking lot that would be accessed through our quiet, residential neighborhood would be an attractive nuisance and a magnet for crime. It would attract disrespectful people from outside the neighborhood, creating an unsafe residential imbalance. The potential is great for rodent-attracting trash, alcohol/drug abuse, and noise.

Malibu Park is located in a natural bowl. Sound travels through the canyons. Light reflects and multiplies within its confines, especially on foggy nights when the water droplets refract the light. The increased night illumination along the lighted walkways and within the expanded/additional parking lots, in combination with the light standards and light leaking through the school windows, would illuminate the nighttime sky. 

Homeowners’ views of stars, the moon, and night creatures would be replaced by patterns of lighting standards and blocks of buildings. On foggy nights we would look down on a sparkling, white, cotton candy-like cloud. This increase in noise and light could potentially lead to the diminution of nearby property values and reduced concomitant property tax revenue to the City.

This night sky illumination is also detrimental to the Malibu Park wildlife.

Monarch butterflies roost in the blue gum eucalyptus; coast live oaks and sycamore trees of Western Malibu. Many of us are doing our share to support the wildlife habitats. There have been signs of success. The 2021 Monarch butterfly count was increased one hundred times compared with the 2019 post-Woolsey Fire count.  

It is important to our ecosystem to dim the lights, not increase them.

A recent post from Science Daily reports that scientists at the University of Cincinnati have found the following:

Light pollution can disorient monarch butterflies

Posted: 20 May 2022 11:46 a.m. PDT

Biologists say nighttime light pollution can interfere with the remarkable navigational abilities of monarchs, which travel as far as Canada to Mexico and back during their multi-generational migration. Researchers found that butterflies roosting at night near artificial illumination such as a porch or streetlight can become disoriented the next day because the light interferes with their circadian rhythms. Artificial light can impede the molecular processes responsible for the butterfly’s remarkable navigational ability and trigger the butterfly to take wing when it should be resting.

Night lighting is also harmful to migrating birds. The glorious bright orange (male) and greenish-brown (female) Rufous hummingbirds fly through California and Malibu in particular between mid-February and mid-May. They visit my Harvester Road garden each year. The Rufous Hummingbird migrates up to 4,000 miles from Mexico and the Gulf Coast to northwest Alaska, where they breed and back each fall. They follow the sun, moon, and stars for direction. The Audubon Society says: “This one-of-a-kind bird could easily become disoriented by bright city lights along the way.” Audubon is promoting nationwide efforts to reduce artificial lighting to keep migrating birds on track.

The Malibu Middle and High School Specific Plan require changes that respect the Malibu Park ecosystem as well as its neighborhood fabric.  

Given the new research on the effects of night lighting on the environment, it is time to re-think the current site plan that includes the placement of an additional 14-space parking lot in the field above the softball field with an entrance on Clover Heights as well as increased lighting of walkways and parking lot light standards. It is critical that the school buildings reflect a concern for the natural setting with a reduction in the nighttime light leakage from the school structures. 

As of now, the plans are ill-conceived and destructive to the neighborhood fabric and the Malibu Park ecosystem. 

I emphatically request you remove Parking Lot-F from your proposed plan. It would be devastating to all of us residents if you were to destroy the neighborhood we are trying so hard to rebuild for merely 14 parking places. 

I emphatically request you remove the increased lighting of walkways and parking lot light standards and reduce the nighttime light leakage from the school structures.

Sincerely,

 Charlotte Frieze Jones, Malibu 

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