Malibu City Council approves Road Race Agreements 

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Farmers Market to return to SMC parking lot; council OKs purchase of lidar speed guns for traffic enforcment

The Malibu City Council returned from holiday break and began the meeting on Monday with a presentation from Southern California Edison Government Relations Manager Andrew Thomas.

After the 45-minute presentation, the council moved on to approving the Road Race Agreement and emphasized the importance of ensuring that local nonprofit organizations benefited from the events.

Councilmembers Paul Grisanti and Marianne Riggins served on the procurement evaluation committee and reviewed the four submitted proposals.

The council reduced the public comment to two minutes after receiving an estimated two hours of speaker slips and Zoom participants.

On Dec. 11, 2012, the council adopted City Council Policy #47 entitled the Road Race Policy, which provides that the city may grant a maximum of two temporary use permits for non-motorized racing such as marathons, triathlons, and cycling events per calendar year. 

On Aug. 12, 2013, the city entered into a 10-year agreement with Michael Epstein Sports Productions Inc. to host the Malibu Triathlon through Nov. 1, 2023. However, in 2017, that right was transferred between two other organizations, Motiv Running and Nautica Malibu Triathlon, until Super League Holdings PTE LTD assumed the right to organize and operate the triathlon from 2020 through 2023. 

The event almost did not occur in 2023 because Super League’s application for a temporary use permit was initially denied by the Planning Commission at staff’s recommendation, which was based on area residents not being timely provided with notice about the race. At the commission hearing, there was much discussion concerning alleged miscommunications between various agencies having jurisdiction over the Zuma underpass and the fact that federal officials stated that the lagoon fed by Malibu Creek holds tidewater gobies, a threatened species whose habitat cannot be disturbed. On Sept. 18, Planning Commissioners Kraig Hill and John Mazza voted to decline Super League’s application for a temporary use permit. 

Super League timely appealed and, on Sept. 25, the City Council conducted a thorough de novo review of the entire record before a full house of concerned citizens, most of whom urged the council to find a way to let the triathlon proceed. The council approved Super League’s application for a temporary use permit by a vote of 4-1, with Councilmember Bruce Silverstein objecting. 

The council was scheduled to hear the item on Dec. 11, but the item was continued to consideration of whether to award the contracts for a triathlon and a half-marathon to the ad hoc committee’s proposed awardees, Malibu Race Series, LLC for the half marathon and Zuma Foundation, Inc., a new entity created by Malibu local Michael Epstein, and founded who sold the origional triathlon under the auspices of Michael Epstein Sports Productions Inc. 

Following a lengthy discussion, the council voted to approve the Road Race Agreement permit with Zuma Race Organization (Michael Epstein), allowing them to oversee the annual triathlon in addition they approved the annual marathon to Malibu Moves (Erica Segel) transferring the existing contracts to both new organizations with councilmember Riggins voting no against this decision.

Malibu Moves founder and Race Director Erica Segel thanked the city for choosing a local female-run business. Segel is also a member of the Malibu and Pacific Palisades of Commerce and chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee. 

“I want to applaud the city for being so thorough and taking the time, it’s a lot of work on their shoulder too dig into every single item with so much focus and detail but I am glad to see the city choose once again, and that has recognized the value of people that are authentically invested in the community versus a large corporation that is trying to leverage the brands name, for me, this is a victory,” Segel said. “This confirms the relationships that I’ve built over the years matter, and I believe in people, and that’s why I love this event because it’s about bringing the community together, celebrating people no matter what age, fitness level, this is about an opportunity to come together as a community and doing something active outdoors, in a fun and very inclusive way. I look forward to expanding this and to a fruitful collaboration with the city, the Chamber of Commerce, and the local schools.”

The Malibu Triathlon made the following statement on social media Tuesday:

“We are extremely disappointed by the decision of Malibu City Council to award a permit for a triathlon to a former owner, who has sold the triathlon in the past for commercial gain,” the statement read. “We remain the legal owner of the event’s IP, and this decision sets a very dangerous precedent for the wider industry and all who want to promote health and wellness by investing in sporting events. The decision not to award a new permit ends 38 years of the Malibu Triathlon as we know it and its proven substantial fundraising for CHLA, which has brought in $18 million for pediatric cancer research, as well as being an important part of the community and delivering support for a significant number of local charities and businesses. We will undertake all necessary measures to protect our IP and to robustly question both this process and the outcome, as well as to defend the wider sport event industry. We would like to thank all of the partners and staff that have made this event such a huge success, and of course the many thousands of participants who have provided incredible inspiration for us to continue to deliver a world class event. We remain committed to our goal of growing short course triathlon in the USA for the benefit of all and our partnership with CHLA, and we are excited that this will continue with the Long Beach Legacy Triathlon, which takes place July 20-21, 2024.”

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs Station Capt. Jennifer Seetoo provided a report on the recent fatalities and what the department needs to ensure enforcement continues on PCH. Mayor Steve Uhring thanked Seetoo for the report and said they have a drafted letter for speed cameras and will send it to State Senator Ben Allen by Jan. 18.

Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas presented the emergency purchase of lidar speed guns for traffic enforcement. Councilmember Bruce Silverstein approved the item, Grisanti seconded the motion, and the motion passed. 

In addition the council approved 4.A, the code amendment to extend deadlines for nonconforming in-kind disaster rebuild projects. The council also motioned to approve the increase the General Fund Grant program to $553,100, for FY 2023-24, and make a one-time appropriation of $353,100 to the Malibu School Leadership Council through the Shark Fund.

The council directed the Malibu Farmers Market to return to the LA County/Santa Monica College property. The council will continue the discussion after the market returns. 

Due to the time the council heared public comment for item 7.A, traffic calming measures on Pacific Coast Highway, but moved to discuss the item in the next meeting. Members of the public who spoke were friends and family members who knew the Pepperdine students who were killed on Oct. 17.

The council motioned to adjourn the meeting in memory of Lyon Herron and Ray Humphrey. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22.