Malibu West residents request City Council to revisit Geological Hazardous Abatement District (GHAD)

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Council disbands the Homelessness Task Force and assigns the charter of the task force to the Public Safety Commission

To start off the Malibu City Council meeting on Monday, Malibu West residents attended the meeting in person and through Zoom to request City Council to revisit the Geological Hazardous Abatement District (GHAD). 

Malibu West resident and Malibu West Volunteer Fire Brigade founder Dermot Stoker was one of the residents who spoke requesting the council to address the GHAD in a future meeting. 

“Please remove our homeowners association from the geological hazard district because it serves no purpose at all,” Stoker said. “In 12 years, and all of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we spent, it’s time to look for a change, and I think we should be removed from it.” 

Dermot Stoker CityCouncil 411 SamBravo
Dermot Stoker, a 37-year Malibu resident, speaks during the City Council meeting on April 10 to request City Council to revisit the Geological Hazardous Abatement District (GHAD). Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Interim Deputy City Manager Rob Houston provided an update on the Snack Shack at Malibu Bluffs park and said they have been working with the Malibu Little League for options to implement a temporary food facility by April 22.

“There can be a grill, there can be food produced, and we think we can get a structure like that permitted,” Houston said. “We do believe that would all be permitted within the rules that LA County Health permits and would provide a safe option with a three compartment sink, electric grill,—all the different layers to have operational foods done in a good way and done quickly so we can take advantage of the rest of the season.”

The council also addressed public safety on Winding Way, addressed fractional ownership of property issues, and reviewed the progress of the Homelessness Task Force Charter.

For council updates, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Uhring supported the Malibu West residents who attended the meeting and hopes to add it to a future meeting.

“I think you’re right, this has been a disaster and I think it’s right for the City Council to take a real serious look and see how we can help you folks out,” Uhring said.

City Manager Steve McClary said they will be adding this item at the City Council meeting agenda on May 8. 

Councilmember Marianne Riggins mentioned the influx of visitors hiking Escondido Falls over the weekend and hopes MRCA can increase traffic and public safety for visitors and residents. 

“I heard there were at least two rescues out there at that particular weekend [on April 1], it was absolutely overwhelming with people visiting that particular trailhead and I’m sure having an incredible impact on that neighborhood,” Riggins said. 

Limited parking for Escondido Fall Trails is located on Winding Way and after that lot fills up, visitors park throughout neighborhoods and along PCH.

“I would like to see MRCA step up their presence in that area in the coming weeks,” Riggins said. “I don’t know how we can request that but it’s absolutely out of control out there and we need to make sure that they are aware of it and they are taking care to make sure that all the visitors that are coming to see the beautiful areas in Malibu have what they need to lesson the impact of our residence and their private neighborhoods while still allowing the public enjoyment of the beautiful public lands.”

Councilmember Doug Stewart also addressed the issue and hopes MRCA will increase parking safety near Winding Way and near Point Dume.

“MRCA and the other people who are running this park area has got to put some control and say this park is full,” he said. “There’s too many people, the rescues, not to mention the impact on the environment, we’re loving some of these areas to death — we’re killing what we’re supposed to be protecting.”

Mayor Bruce Silverstein said he has met with members of the Malibu Film Society about finding a location to screen films in Malibu.

“We met with the board of directors by Zoom and I think we have a solution that Paul [Grisanti] and I will be presenting at a future meeting,” Silverstein said. “There’s some details that need to be worked out, but I think we’re subject to other council members joining us. We may have a solution that will work for everyone.”

The council addressed amendments to the Malibu Municipal Code (MMC) and Local Coastal Program Local Implementation Plan to address timeshare use in the city and finding the action exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.

The city has been receiving complaints regarding single-family homes in the city that were being sold and/or marketed as “fractional ownership” or “co-ownership” homes, wherein each buyer may acquire a one- eighth interest in a limited liability company that will own the home.

Under the fractional ownership or co-ownership structure pursuant to which these dwelling units are marketed and sold, each owner receives a one-eighth share along with the right to use the home for one-eighth of each year, indefinitely. During each owner’s usage period, that owner has exclusive use of the entire house/property. Rentals are prohibited; only owners and their guests are permitted to use the house under the structure of the agreement. Each owner pays regular assessments to fund the operating costs of the home and maintenance reserves.

Multiple residents spoke opposing fractional ownership and some spoke in favor.

Malibu city staff recommended that the council comment and adopt Resolution 23-16 to initiate a Zone Text Amendment and LCP amendment to further regulate timeshare use in the city. The council voted to organize a closed session on April 20 to address legal issues, then continue the item to the first meeting of May.

Council moved on to receive a report on the Homelessness Task Force on public safety and outreach recommendations. Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas provided the report. 

During the March 21 Homelessness Task Force regular meeting, the Task Force unanimously voted to present the Fire, Health, and Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee Report to the City Council. The report addresses the Task Force Charter assignment to “develop a plan to mitigate public safety and environmental impacts, particularly fires related to homeless encampments.”

The last recommendation is meant to clarify the boundaries of the Task Force Charter. The Task Force is interested in analyzing this issue to come up with strategies to address unhoused individuals living in vehicles as opposed to outdoors, including looking at current parking restrictions and enforcement but is seeking clarification as to whether this is part of their existing charter or if a new charter assignment would need to be added.

“My view is that the camping in vehicles is part of the mandated task force and parking ordinances are not,” Silverstein said. 

The council received the report and provided guidance.

Dueñas presented item 6.B, to review the Homelessness Task Force Charter progress on completing the charter assignments and review options to address issues the Task Force is having to meet quorum.

The task force seeks solutions in collaboration with city staff, LASD and homeless service providers to address the increase in the number of people living in vehicles within the Malibu community. In addition, concerns were raised about the ability of the Task Force to meet quorum following the resignation of Task Force members Bill Winokur, Deborah Benton, and Chris Frost. The Task Force was established as a 10-member body and is currently at seven members. Additionally, staff is concerned that difficulties with meeting quorum will increase when in-person meetings resume.

At this time, staff recommends that the City Council consider the following options to address the challenge the Task Force is having with meeting quorum:

  • Leave the Task Force as is and assign new members to fill the vacant positions.
  • Reduce the Task Force’s size to enable quorum to be met more easily when in-person meetings resume.
  • Disband the Task Force.
  • Disband the Task Force and direct staff to establish an Advisory Council composed of staff-appointed community members to review and recommend homelessness efforts moving forward. An Advisory Council with staff appointed members is not subject to the Brown Act and would therefore not be required to meet quorum.

“Just from my perspective watching the task force, yes they do struggle with the Brown Act rules,” Dueñas said. “It’s a little tricky at times, but at the same time, I can say it does help for separate opinions, it allows them to be heard, possibly a little bit more, so I can understand perspectives on both sides.” 

After speakers, members of the council spoke in support of the task force and are opposed to disbanding it. The council also discussed assigning the charter to the Public Safety Commission.

“We formed the Task Force and the unhoused population has been shrinking, we have become more aggressive in our law, we became more focused on reducing the unhoused population in Malibu through our task force, and low and behold there has been a shrinkage, a substantial shrinkage,” Silverstein said. 

Before voting, Uhring thanked the task force for their ongoing efforts in the community.

“I’m going to vote no also; before I do I wanted to thank all the members of the task force for the job that you all have done, I’m sorry you’re not getting more recognition,” he said.

The motion passed with a 3-2 vote to disband the homelessness task force. 

The council addressed the request to waive the Cornucopia Foundation facility use and permit fees for Malibu Farmers Market parking at the Ioki Property. The council approved to waive the fees.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for April 24.

The article was updated online to correct the title of Mayor Bruce Silverstein.