Public Safety Commission looks to bring in more parking enforcement

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Heavy traffic is seen flowing through Pacific Coast Highway on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 6. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT

The commission said it will continue pursuing the responsibilities of the Homelessness Task Force 

With summer in full swing and beachgoers heading to Malibu trying to beat the heat, traffic on PCH has extended beyond the weekends to throughout the week.

The increase in visitors also comes with an increase in parking violations. To address illegal parking along PCH, the Public Safety Commission explored implementing a private enforcement agency to maintain parking enforcement throughout the year. 

To start off the meeting, Emergency Service Coordinator Sarah Flores provided an update on Public Safety Department and upcoming events.

“Next month is National Preparedness Month, and the city will be hosting free webinars each week with speakers from the city as well as counter agencies and outside organizations, they will be offering guidance and answering questions on the types of hazards that Malibu faces and how to prepare for those hazards,” Flores said. “It will be a very good speaker series event throughout the month of September.”

To view the list of upcoming events, visit malibucity.org/civicalerts.

Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas has been in contact with other cities to see what they have been doing to enforce parking.

“Many of them are turning to private parking enforcement companies to deal with this; some of them have their own internal staff, almost like code enforcement,” Dueñas said. “With a private parking enforcement company, you can scale that company up and down, it’s very flexible … I think just having that presence helps a lot.”

Dueñas said having private enforcement would let the deputies focus on crimes and other incidents. 

“If you like this idea, no matter which way we go, I would want to have a lot of coordination with the Sheriff’s Department and with our VOP’s [LASD Volunteers on Patrol] to make sure that we’re not duplicating efforts,” she said. “We want it to be a very integrated supplementation to the whole program to achieve a more consistent parking enforcement, every day, all year round.”

Now that the city has implemented the tow yard at the Malibu Middle/High School campus, Public Safety Commissioner Josh Spiegel asked when they will address finding a permanent location.

“This is something Malibu could really use, that way we could tow year-round,” Spiegel said. “Our summers don’t end when the kids go to school.”

On May 27, the city began impounding vehicles. The temporary tow yard is expected to operate until Sept. 4 on weekends and holidays. 

Commissioners asked city staff and sheriff’s, “Who has the ability to tow vehicles?”

Sgt. Chris Soderlund responded to the commissioner’s comments on towing ability and said despite the excellent work the Malibu VOPs have been doing, they don’t have the ability to tow. 

According to the meeting agenda, from September through April, the VOP provided the majority of parking enforcement in the city, issuing more than 6,000 citations between September 2022 and the end of April 2023, which was nearly 70 percent of the parking citations during that time. 

Spiegel motioned a recommendation to authorize the City Council to contract with a private company for parking enforcement that includes towing capabilities and direct staff to work with the Sheriff’s Department and VOPs to determine the desired service level and schedule for the parking enforcement. Chair Chris Frost seconded the motion. 

The Commission moved on to how to proceed with completing the Homelessness Task Force assignments related to fire, health, and public safety, per the City Council’s direction.

During the Public Safety Commission meeting on July 12, the commission reviewed the Homelessness Task Force Charter and identified how to proceed with completing the transfer of assignments following the disbandment of the task force on May 8. 

The Public Safety Commission said they will continue pursuing issues involving homelessness in Malibu. 

The next Public Safety Commission meeting is scheduled for Sept. 6.