Public Safety Commission reviews 2022 accomplishments, delivers the 2023 work plan

A sign at Lechuza Beach cautions visitors. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Panel prepares for storms and 2023 Homeless Count, and receives a report from Malibu/Lost Hills Lt. Dustin Carr

The first Public Safety Commission reviewed the 2022 accomplishments, addressed the 2023 work plan, received an update on the Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras, and received a report from the LA County Public Safety Agencies. 

To start the meeting, City of Malibu Emergency Services Coordinator Sarah Kaplan announced her resignation. She is relocating to the Bay Area with her husband.

Public Works Director Rob DuBoux provided an update on the weather, storm drains, hot spots, and emergency preparedness. 

“We are very prepared and ready for the storm event,” DuBoux said. 

Commissioner Josh Spiegel asked DuBoux what areas he is concerned with flooding.

DeBoux said he is worried about the watershed near Lechuza Beach and said due to the way the canyon is, there will most likely be three inches of rain.

Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas provided the report on the implementation of the Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) cameras.

“This is very exciting, this has been a long time in the works, it’s been almost two years since your commission has made the recommendation to the city council to pursue license plate reader cameras,” Dueñas said. “It took a long time to get, and we finally received the cameras and we’re getting ready to install them.”

Dueñas said the cameras can be both solar and hard-wired. 

The panel addressed the locations and the data usage.

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs Station Deputy Samuel Paul answered questions regarding locations, implementation, and LASD’s Privacy Policy

“I think you made an excellent purchase, that’s going to be very comprehensive, it’s going to give you great coverage,” Paul said. “That’s where the true strength of the system comes is where you have a lot of information in there to get something, even a small lead can help.”

The panel raised questions in regards to who has access to the data. Paul said LASD has full access to the data. 

“This is a great tool to eliminate people from the possibility of being involved in a crime,” Paul said. “We can check the information, we can see the vehicle and it can help if they’re not involved … it has a great tool that has many resources.”

The panel moved on to the next item on the agenda, which was the 2022 accomplishments and 2023 workplan. Staff identified five overarching goals that would shape the work plan for the coming year which include: 

  • Reduce the risk and impact of a wildfire
  • Reduce the number of people living unhoused in Malibu by 30 percent
  • Increase preparedness for a damaging earthquake
  • Increase public safety presence in the community
  • Improve safety on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)
  • Although the Public Safety Department experienced some interruptions with staffing, Dueñas said much was achieved by the end of 2022. 

“I’m not going to go over all the great things we did last year, but I was pretty impressed by what we were able to get done, even with some of our hiccups and staffing, I feel pretty proud of what my staff was able to accomplish,” Dueñas said.

The report listed key accomplishments that contributed to each goal, such as 43 home ignition zone assessments, removing 100 hazard trees with the grant-funded Hazard Tree Removal program, securing an additional $355,000 in grants from the Santa Monica Conservancy to continue the Hazard Tree Removal program, the implementation of 20 Beacon Boxes throughout the city, applied for a Hazard Mitigation Grant to provide financial assistance to residents who want to implement the recommendations from a Home Ignition Zone Assessment, crafted an emergency declaration that can be used each year at the start of peak fire season to reduce the risk of fire starts at homeless encampments and launched the ZoneHaven evacuation program in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management and Fire Department.

The city conducted the 2022 Homeless Count, which identified 81 individuals experiencing homelessness in Malibu, a 66 percent decrease from 2020. The city worked with outside agencies to clear 39 encampments identified by community members and staff while on routine field checks. The Malibu Outreach Team assisted 42 people to obtain temporary or permanent housing. The city also obtained a grant from the county to fund three interim shelter beds to support the Malibu Outreach Team in transitioning people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.

Last year, the city conducted 33 emergency operations training and exercise sessions for city staff; participated in the city’s second annual Spanish Language Disaster Preparedness Training in partnership with Malibu Labor Exchange, Malibu Foundation, and Pepperdine University; hosted and coordinated the 4th Annual Public Safety Expo with 26 partner agencies, community partners, and vendors with an estimated 125 attendees; completed 12 monthly Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) tests, conducted the first in-person CERT class since the pandemic started.

As for new goals, the city hopes to increase preparedness for earthquakes and improve public safety. 

The city has a multi-agency tabletop exercise planned for Jan. 19 to examine impacts on infrastructure after a significant earthquake.

The city obtained a Public Safety car magnet to place on the side of fleet cars and identify when Public Safety staff are out in the field; provided presentations to realtor and homeowner groups regarding home hardening and new laws that will going into effect; provided 16 Disaster Preparedness presentations to the public and launched a Knox Box Community Education Campaign to expand sheriff’s deputies and provide access to gated communities.

The city addressed implemented a temporary day use impound yard to support tow operations during the summer months, which was used to store 361 vehicles that had been parked illegally and towed and worked with the Sheriff’s Department to acquire 12 automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras to help solve crimes and alert deputies to vehicles that are wanted in connection with a crime.

Dueñas said they hope to expand broadcast radio capabilities with KBUU radio station.

“A big priority for me personally is working with KBUU to expand broadcast radio capabilities in Malibu, it’s just so critical for our emergency operations,” Dueñas said. 

Dueñas hopes to update the emergency plan to have better assessments. 

“As we’ve seen with Woolsey, we’re relying on outside agencies doesn’t always work for whatever reason, so having a throughout understanding of what are the capabilities within out our town and how to utilzie those, organize those, just really take advantage of all of it,” Dueñas said. “We’re also really looking at our vulnerable populations [Spanish-language community]. It’s very important.”

Chair Chris Frost thanked Dueñas and the staff for their hardwork and accomplishments. 

The County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department lieutenant Dustin Carr provided a report on storms, floods and public safety. Carr addressed the Surfrider Beach encampments that have increased near the Malibu Pier. Carr said they will be posting clean-up signs this week. 

“That issue will be addressed shortly, but we have to go through the steps and the first step is to put up those signs and that is something they are going to be doing,” Carr said. 

As for parking enforcement, Carr said there was an increase in motorhomes, from eight to 10, and issued 147 sites in December 2022. 

Carr also addressed the motorhomes parked at Westward Beach Road.

“They’ve also been in contact with the people there, trying to do some education as well as enforcement, but education as well, just to let them know, everyone has to follow the rules, we want to keep Malibu clean and safe for everyone,” Carr said. 

Carr provided a brief update on crime and said there was an increase in burglaries. Carr said its mostly vacation properties that have been burglarized. 

“We’re going to continue to monitor it and put our resources towards it,” Carr said. “As we look foward I want to continue to work on the stuff we have been working on and hopefully towards the end of next year, things will be so much better.”