Public Safety Commission meeting addresses fire season, Woolsey Fire anniversary and MRCA proposal

During the long but productive Public Safety Commission meeting on Nov. 2, commissioners provided an update on the tow yard, fire season, Beacon Box, and more.

For staff updates, Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas said she submitted a proposal for a temporary impound yard at Malibu Middle and High School.

“In the past, there was always a problem with having access to the school from Labor Day to Memorial Day; they really didn’t want us there when school was in session,” Dueñas said. “They (the school) said they are willing to work something out so that we can use, probably the upper parking lot.”

Dueñas said the school is making an effort to make it work.  

Dueñas also reminded the panel about the the Woolsey Fire and said the city has announced Nov. 9 as Malibu’s Annual Day of Preparedness. 

“We encourage everybody to take at least one step, to be more prepared,” Dueñas said. “If everybody could do one thing, that would be great. No action is too small; it all adds up to be more prepared.” 

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Public Safety Liaison Luis Flores provided an update on the People’s Concerns and said in the month of September, they were able to get eight people off the street, three people were permanently housed, one was temporarily housed, and one individual was relocated. 

Malibu Fire Safety Liaison Gabe Etcheverry provided a thorough report and presentation on live fuel moisture and factors that influence wildfire risk and answered questions about the Beacon Boxes.

Public Works Director Rob DeBoux provided an update on the weather and public works maintenance. DeBoux said he has had conversations with Caltrans to add bicycle safety features on PCH.

“Specifically Westbound from Malibu Canyon Road and going onto city limits,” DeBoux said. “We’re in constant communication and developing some strategies on how to improve safety for bicyclists around that area.” 

Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Foundation Chairman and CEO Brent Woodworth provided an update on fire and emergency preparedness events the city held in September.

Dueñas also said the city is improving its alert system.

Los Angeles County Fire Department District 7 Community Service Liaison Megan Currier reminded the panel of a NOAA Radio Distribution at Malibu City Hall on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Currier said they have distributed around 400 radios to residents in Malibu but still have 400 who have registered who have not picked up their radios. 

Residents can register before picking up their radios on Saturday. Register at bit.ly/LACORadio7.

Los Angeles County Fire Section Chief Dan Murphy said they had around 2,700 ocean rescues and 2,600 medical rescues for the year. 

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Lt. Dustin Carr provided an update on the traffic and safety.

Carr said there has been an increase in residential burglaries.

The panel asked Carr how they can support the department with parking enforcement.

Malibu Volunteers on Patrol Team Leader Mark Russo provided an update on enforcement during the summer. Russo said there were 192 incidents with traffic collisions, 108 vehicle tows they assisted the sheriff’s department with.

“We do what we can to help the sheriff’s department,” Russo said. “We were able to be called by dispatch and we were able to mobilize in 15 to 20 minutes and be on scene and help deputies with traffic control, we have a rapid response component as well.”

DeBoux moved on to provide a report on the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) proposal for the Malibu Lower-Cost Accommodations Public Works Plan.

The Malibu Lower-Cost Accommodations Public Works Plan serves as the plan for implementing, operating, and managing a variety of park facility improvement projects, public outreach programs and operation and management at the Malibu Bluffs Open Space as well as operation and management of the existing campground at Ramirez Canyon Park.

Malibu Bluffs project elements would include: 

Flame-less facilities (yurts, tent cabins, and tent pad sites); day-use facilities (parking, restrooms, landscaping, picnic areas, amphitheater, paths, management and interpretive signage, and coastal overlook areas); trail improvements and signage on Beach to Bluffs Trail; support facilities (ranger residence, medical building, office, and kitchen); fuel modification and vegetation management to reduce wildfire hazards; pedestrian and vehicle bridges to provide access over site drainage and streams; water storage tanks; and fire protection systems (fire hydrants and fire extinguishers).

Ramirez Canyon Park project elements would include: 

Flame-less facilities (tent pad sites); day-use facilities (parking, restrooms, landscaping, picnic areas, paths, management and interpretive signage); fuel modification and vegetation management to reduce wildfire hazards; and fire protection systems (fire hydrants and fire extinguishers). The project would require utility trenching and grading to install utility lines and improve existing trails. 

Josh Spiegel expressed his concerns but said it can be safe if it’s managed properly. 

“If this thing is approved and we’re able to make it safe, I don’t really see a whole bunch of safety issues with someone making coffee in the morning,” Spiegel said. “And ultimately if it is approved, I don’t want to ruin some kids’ camping experience, I just want it to be managed properly if this thing is approved.” 

Commissioners expressed similar concerns.

The commission motioned to approve the plan to the City Council.

The next Public Safety Committee meeting is scheduled for Dec 7.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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