Parking enforcement stepped up at Point Dume headlands parking lot on Cliffside Drive

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Cars are shown parked along the 29370-29380 block of Cliffside Drive in Malibu. The city’s Volunteers On Patrol (VOP) are ticketing drivers who park along the road to get to the Point Dume headlands. Contributed Photo

The tiny eight-space parking lot on the Point Dume headlands just isn’t enough for all the visitors that want to see the bluff-top nature preserve and then take the newly rebuilt stairway down to the beach below. The parking lot tends to fill up very quickly every day, and cars unable to find a space have taken to parking illegally along one side of Cliffside Drive. As soon as one parks illegally, others follow right behind.

After seeing photos posted on social media that illustrate the traffic hazard those cars are creating, Malibu’s Volunteers On Patrol (VOP) stepped up weekend patrols and started handing out tickets. KBUU radio recently reported that 30 tickets had been given out there on Sunday, Feb. 19, and a resident posted that 100 tickets were given out he first weekend in February. VOP did not respond to our questions by press deadline.

Nearby resident Steve Graham posted his account online, which The Malibu Times is using with his permission: “Since posting photos a few weeks ago, the Sheriff’s VOP have been diligent and very active citing our out-of-town visitors. (I doubt if anyone from Point Dume or any local Malibu residents would be so ignorant as to go out on weekends and park illegally with five towing signs visible and encroaching dangerously into a blind curve) … [The VOP] have been visiting this area constantly during the weekend afternoons.

“This is going to happen on every nice day going forward into spring,” Graham continued. “One or two cars waiting for the few spots at the Headlands decide to just park and leave their car there … and then 30 minutes later, we have a potential very dangerous situation with dozens of illegally parked cars. The volunteer police don’t have enough manpower if they’re called to another more urgent situation (today it was Tuna Canyon fire) … Lost Hills Police might show up, but that’s doubtful … I’ve seen patrol cars just drive by during these events because it’s too overwhelming for them to start ticketing.”   

As depicted in the photo, visitors parking illegally along Cliffside Drive block traffic coming around a blind curve, forcing them into a lane of oncoming traffic.

“I’m just waiting to hear the sound of a crashing car outside our house windows on days like this. Something has to be done, because it’s only going to get worse now that social media has tagged the Point Dume Preserve a ‘must-see’ place,” Graham said.

The nearest legal parking to the bluff-top nature preserve, once the tiny parking area has filled up, is on Westward Beach Road — an uphill trek. But some say there’s a reason there’s so little parking — that the ecology here is too delicate to handle crowds, there are no restrooms, and almost no oversight by State Parks rangers. 

Some residents reported putting up their own signs directing visitors to park on Westward Beach Road if the headlands parking lot is full, but one or more of those signs may have been lost in recent storms.

Another local resident posted: “The property was deeded with the express controls to keep it small in order to preserve the habitat and native species from the very trampling that is occurring. The inability of State Parks to maintain the area is an atrocity. The photos being posted show clear violations of people off-trail, and I’ve noted dogs off-leash often when driving by or walking to the Headlands myself. 

“It’s become a party spot,” the resident continued. “I saw a glazed couple last summer stumbling to their car with the guy holding a glass bong … I wonder if the deed transfer language provides for enforcement/taking back due to the lack of oversight and enforcement by State Parks [over] one of the last remaining coastal habitats in our SoCal area. Can’t we educate people as to the significance of its environmental contribution to the coast and historical status? It should be respected, rather than entirely ‘consumed,’ or its bird nesting sites (including cliffs), small seal rookery, insects and rare plants could be gone forever. That is the job and purpose of the State Ranger program — education as much as enforcement of regulations and general laws.”

In 1979, Point Dume was acquired by the State of California. Of the 63 acres now making up Point Dume State Beach, the 34 acres on the bluff-top was designated a State Natural Preserve in 1992 — one of the highest levels of protection afforded by law.