Malibu Business Roundtable Addresses Community Concerns

Beautiful Malibu vista in winter. Staff Photo

Topics included increased gas prices, support for small businesses, Coastal Commission and PCH speeding concerns  

The vacancy of retails, concerns of speeding, and lack of initiative of the Coastal Commission were some of the main topics highlighted during the Malibu Business Roundtable meeting on Friday, March. 4. Hosted by The Malibu Times in partnership with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, around 30 participants joined the Zoom call to share upcoming events and concerns occurring in the Malibu community. 

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce Membership Coordinator, Barbara Burke, provided an update on Malibu’s retail, office spaces, and restaurant businesses. Burke said support is needed in areas such as Western Malibu, where the restaurant Cliffdivers is located, and is hopeful there will be funds and grants available to struggling businesses.

Burke said the new sushi bar at Malibu Colony is opening soon and is waiting for Alfred Coffee at Malibu Country Mart to receive their permits. In addition, Burke said the longtime local bank that closed in Point Dume is being remodeled and has businesses interested in the location.

As gas prices begin to increase in Los Angeles County, Burke is concerned for the retail employees working minimum wage and hopes to provide them with the support they need to continue working in Malibu. 

Malibu City Homelessness Task Force Chair, Ian Roven said the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the People Concern provided the Homeless Task Force information on programs the LA County organizes to assist those experiencing homelesses.

Roven also reminded the members on the call to continue supporting stores and businesses in the area and encouraged the community to attend the Homeless Task Force meetings, which meet regularly on the third Tuesday of each month through Zoom.

Interim City Manager Steve McClary highlighted the 2022 Malibu State of the City Address and provided COVID-19 updates. While City Hall has reopened to the community, they still require masks per recommendations from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and have continued to follow restrictions and protocols. 

McClary said they continue to stay cautious to prevent a spike from the seasons before. McClary also attended the first installation of the Beacon Boxes in Big Rock neighborhoods and said they would be the first in many to come. 

McClary announced the new acting captain Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Lieutenant Joseph Fender, who replaced Captain Salvador “Chuck” Becerra after two years.

As for the fire rebuilds, he referred to the Environmental Sustainability Director/Building Official, Yolanda Bundy, who was not on the call. 

McClary said to refer to members of the city council for questions on the search for the City Manager; however, he is still focused on moving the city forward.

City member Barry Haldeman asked McClary about the generator at the Ralphs parking lot. Public Safety Commissioner Doug Stewart responded, saying he believes they are a mobile unit powered by solar panels. 

Malibu School Board Member Craig Foster provided an update on the mask mandates in the classroom and said they have been controversial on both sides. Foster said the district sent out a survey last week and stated the parents are overwhelmingly in favor of de-masking. Foster said the superintendent will recommend de-masking immediately on March 14, but will continue to provide the option for students to keep their masks on.

Public Works Commissioner Scott Dittrich asked how the district is doing in regards to enrollment and if the Woolsey Fire and the pandemic continue to make an impact to why they can’t be independent. 

Foster said if the district uses that as a factor, they would have to ask Senator Henry Stern to craft legislation and said there is no scarcity based on the numbers of kids. 

As for traffic and law enforcement, Stewart provided an update and said in the past few months, they have seen an increase in fatalities and said it has been likely due to speed. Stewart said they don’t have enough enforcement to cover the 26-square miles in Malibu. As for recreational vehicles (RV’s) parking in non-parking areas, they continue to actively enforce parking and ticketing. With summer approaching, Stewart said they’re preparing with traffic enforcement, and they are focusing on the ability to tow vehicles. 

McClary said he asked the Sheriff to step up enforcement for the weekends with the motor show. McClary said they made several citations and impounded one vehicle. He also said they are working with the Sheriff’s department to add additional enforcement. 

Dittrich said the Public Safety Commission has been discussing this issue and said the real problem with the increase in speeding and lack of enforcement is the lack of CHP on the highway. Dittrich also said the Heathercliff tow yard would make an impact on the amount of vehicles that can be towed and reduce public safety hazards. 

Speaker Ryan Embree raised his concerns with the Westward Beach project and how the bicyclist lane was removed from the project proposal that was presented at the last Public Works Commission and Public Safety Commission joint meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Embree said the bike lane is essential and recommends bringing back the proposal with the designated bike lane to increase safety.

Speaker Bill Curtis said the city needs to address safer bike lanes for cyclists and enforce speeding where vehicles need to slow down. 

There were no public speakers for the LA County Fire Department, Environmental Issues, California Coastal Commission on the call to answer questions.

In regards to the Coastal Commission, there was no public speaker, which led to some members of the Roundtable stating they have been seeing a lack of initiative in Malibu from the Coastal Commission. Curtis suggests “having a consistent exposure to their actions and decisions and shed some light on the Coastal Commission.” Members of the meeting explained that they hope to create a committee specifically in Malibu that can address these issues.

Pepperdine University Executive Director Heidi Bernard provided resources on the lectureseventsart exhibitsperformances, and sports events occurring at the university.

On behalf of the Funeral Home Animal Rescue, Jacky Tomlinson asked members of the community to contribute to the cardiology leading to surgery for one of their rescue dogs Francis Xavier. Tomlinson also said they are only 13 percent funded.

The Malibu Roundtable is always on the first Friday of each month, with the next meeting on April. 1, at 8:30 a.m.