News Briefs 3/17


PCH was closed at Rambla Vista for several hours due to drunk driver 

Around 5 a.m. on Monday, March 14, the County Sheriff reported that Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was closed at Rambla Vista in both directions due to a traffic collision and a down power pole. The road was closed for several hours due to Edison having to replace the power pole. 

According to a witness at the scene, a car with five passengers hit the electrical pole at causing the powerline to fall into the street, knocking the power out. 

The accident had zero fatalities; one individual went to the hospital with injuries. 

LASD County Sheriff Public Service Announcement 

Edison will be using a helicopter to survey poles on March 16, in the Sweetwater area of Malibu. 

Negotiations in the Santa Monica, Malibu School District separation took place last weekend 

Santa Monica and Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) officials met in a closed session mediation last weekend to discuss the details of splitting the school district.

According to reports, school board members say they favor an independent Malibu school district if they could come to a financial agreement that works for Santa Monica and Malibu. 

Los Angeles County Office of Education delayed the proceedings last month; no timeline has been released at this time. The next meeting is on April 4. 

Los Angeles Fire Department

A high-ranking Los Angeles Fire Department official who appeared drunk while overseeing last May’s Palisades fire is receiving a $1.4 million payout plus a retirement pension.

An outside law firm hired to investigate the allegations found that Chief Deputy Fred Mathis was likely intoxicated while supervising operations during the blaze that was clearly visible in Malibu and had residents on edge.

Mathis, who has admitted to alcoholism, told the LA Times he never reported to duty impaired and “my work was never impacted by my addiction.”

Criticism of the investigation is growing. Black, Latino and women firefighters are calling Mathis’ treatment by the LAFD “unfair,” claiming minorities in the department are disciplined more strictly. Other critics say lack of accountability in the department’s leadership ranks has become an entrenched pattern.

Mathis had been receiving a $350,000 yearly salary. He could not be disciplined because he retired in January, just days before the investigation was completed.

The 35-year LAFD veteran’s huge payout included nearly $300,000 in unused vacation time.

Mathis had spent the last seven months of his tenure on paid leave due to an undisclosed medical condition.

He will receive an annual pension of $225,000.

Pepperdine Mourns Autumn Tennison

On March 9, Pepperdine University mourned the loss of Seaver College student Autumn Tennison with a candlelight vigil who passed away on Monday, March 7. Tennison was a graduate of Robinson High School in Robinson, Illinois, a third-year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, and was a Kappa Alpha Theta sorority member.

According to reports Tennison’s parents shared, she died due to an accidental overdose of her Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication.

Malibu Library speaker series Earth Day returns in-person at Pepperdine 

The Malibu Library Speaker Series returns during Earth Month with author Elizabeth Rush discussing her books about the impacts of climate change on April 7 as part of Pepperdine University’s Climate Calling Conference. 

During Earth Month, the City and the LA County Library partner with Pepperdine University to present an environmentally-themed Library Speaker Series event. This year, Rush, the author of “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore” and “Still Lifes from a Vanishing City: Essays and Photographs from Yangon, Myanmar,” will discuss the impacts of climate change.  

In “Rising,” Rush guides readers through some of the places where climate change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami and from New York City to the Bay Area. For many plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place. 

Rush’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in some of the nation’s leading journalistic publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s, and The Atlantic. She received her MFA in nonfiction from Southern New Hampshire University and teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University. 

The free event takes place in-person on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. at Pepperdine’s Elkins Auditorium. RSVPs are not required. For parking and other information, contact the Malibu Library at (310)456-6438 or

Additional details about this event and the Malibu Library Speaker Series are available at

 The Earth Month events will be posted on the City website at

SMMUSD lifts indoor mask manadate 

The SMMUSD Board of Education took action to amend two board resolutions outlining COVID- 19 safety protocols to move the indoor masking protocol for TK-12 from required to strongly recommended, in alignment with state and county guidance, effective Monday, March 14. 

The school board voted unanimously at a special board meeting on March 9, to amend resolutions Nos. 21-01 and 21-02 adopted originally in August 2021 to effectuate this change.

In keeping with the District’s practice to uphold the county’s mandates and guidance, and with the support of the Board of Education, they amended the indoor masking protocols for staff and students as follows:

  • This change was effective Monday, March 14, in SMMUSD for TK-12. The first day of in-class instruction with strongly recommended but not required.
  • The change applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
  • Staff is required to follow the requirements of Cal/OSHA, which has also aligned with the state and county public health masking guidance; therefore, masks for staff will also move from required to strongly recommended on March 14.