Public Safety Commission to propose closing the first parking lot entrance to the Trancas Country Market 

A motorist enters the Trancas County Market right after passing the Trancas Creek Bridge. Drivers going into the first entrance of the shopping center but end up halting traffic coming westbound on PCH making the inttersection a hazard, according to Malibu public safety commissioners. Photos by Samantha Bravo/TMT

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs Captain Seetoo attended the meeting to provide an update on enforcement and traffic safety

During the Public Safety Commission meeting on Nov. 1, Commissioner Josh Spiegel raised his concerns with The Trancas Creek Bridge Replacement Project and proposed closing the first parking lot entrance to Trancas Country Market coming westbound on PCH due to witnessing multiple rear-end accidents.

“The first one is a really dramatic, right-hand turn, like 90-degree turn, and what I’ve been seeing a couple accidents there, people slam on their break trying to slow down to make that right-hand turn, and they’re getting rear-ended. Is there any way to close that first entrance into vintage [grocers].” Spiegel asked. 

After passing the creek bridge, the entrance to the structure comes fairly quickly, so some drivers who are aware, try to make the first entrance but end up halting traffic coming westbound on PCH.

The current speed limit on the bridge is 30 mph, but Spiegel said vehicles are going as fast as 50 mph.

Public Works Director Rob DeBoux said they are discussing with Caltrans and the shopping center property owner to address the entrance.

The existing 96-year-old, 85-foot-wide, 90-foot-long concrete bridge, constructed in 1927, is being replaced with a new concrete bridge 105 feet wide by 240 feet long. Completion was originally scheduled for summer 2024.

According to the City of Malibu’s website, there will be minimal construction activity, as the project permit does not allow work in the creek area between Nov. 1 and May 1. Work within the creek can only be done during Dry Season which is from April 15 to Nov. 15.

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs Captain Jennifer Seetoo made a surprise visit in the meeting to provide an update on enforcement and traffic safety. 

Seetoo said they have been posting on social media to bring awareness about speeding.

“This week we had 112, 107, 109 (mph), two kids racing in the canyons — yes it’s on the canyons — but it just falls right on PCH, just because they hit PCH it doesn’t mean they stop racing,” Seetoo said. “So we are doing everything we can.”

The Sheriff’s Department has had decoy cars parked on PCH, to help increase awareness on vehicle thefts and enforcement, but Seetoo said they’re going to rotate and replace the decoy car with an actual deputy. 

“We’re open to trying new things; this is where it comes as a whole of the community just because I’m law enforcement, I don’t pretend to know it all,” she said. “I believe the community has great ideas and that’s why this grassroots group and these public safety meetings are so important because the community really comes to the table with incredible ideas.”

Seetoo said she hopes to change people’s behaviors by driving cautiously.

“I will do everything I can to keep this enforcement up,” Seetoo said. “I call them ‘our girls,’ our girls are not going to die in vain, this is not going to be in vain and I’m going to do everything I can, but I have to balance what my staffing really is and that’s why I’m looking at technology to help out with that, as well as engineering.”

After the fatal incident that took the lives of Niamh Rolston, 20, Peyton Stewart, 21, Asha Weir, 21, and Deslyn Williams, 21, Seetoo proposed to approach the incident with three E’s: “Education, Enforcement and Engineering.”

“We must educate everyone of the dangers of PCH: pedestrians, road racing, cyclists, drunk driving etc.,” she said. “We must increase enforcement with LASD and CHP to deter bad actors, including demanding immediate implementation of speed cameras. And we must pressure Caltrans to expedite significant engineering changes to re-envision how we look at, and drive on PCH.”

Commissioner Keegan Gibbs attended the City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 23, and wanted to acknowledge the Malibu VOP (Volunteers on Patrol) for their enforcement.

“After working with you, (Malibu VOPs) and seeing what you guys do, I can’t believe how invaluable you guys are as resources and the fact that one of the VOPs was first on the scene and how horrific that crash was. I had to throw my hat in for that,” Gibbs said. 

Gibbs also provided an update on home assessments he has been conducting and an update on PCH and wildlife safety.

“A lot of people have so many misperceptions still about the dangers and risks of fire,” he said. “It’s really mindblowing how many people are going to stay or shelter in place during a fire.”

Chair Chris Frost also acknowledged Malibu VOPs.

“I don’t think we can exist without them,” Frost said. “The amount of stuff they do out there, the way they control situations is just unbelievable.”

Director of the Westside Outreach of the People Concern Zack Coil attended the meeting and gave a presentation on homeless services provided by The People Concern.

“Outreach for us is not just giving someone a bottle of water or granola bar, it’s about trying to enter into a relationship with someone, build trust and move them along the spectrum of wellness to, at the very least, improve their wellness in their place in the community and hopefully try to help them access and qualify for inter, or permanent support of housing,” Coil said. “Try to form a relationship of trust and care to try to move them forward in terms of their general wellness while they’re on the street.”

According to the city’s website, the recent data for the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count showed 71 people experiencing homelessness in Malibu, a continuing decrease from 2022, 2021, and 2020.

Fire Safety Liason Jerry Vandermuelen provided an update on Cal Fire Wildfire Prevention Grant.

Cal Fire’s Wildfire Prevention Grant program provides an opportunity for local agencies to apply for funding each fiscal year. These grants are aimed at supporting hazardous fuels reduction, wildfire prevention planning, and education programs. In the past, the Public Safety Department has received grants to fund public education initiatives such as the Public Safety Expo, a fire extinguisher training prop, and advertising materials. For the FY 23-24 program, staff intends to apply for funding to implement recommendations from the CA Board of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Subdivision Review Program.

The following five communities in and around Malibu were identified as meeting the criteria for this program:

  • Big Rock
  • Principio (Malibu West)
  • Rambla Orienta (La Costa)
  • Trancas Canyon
  • Corral Canyon (Not within Malibu city limits)

The significance of this program is that addressing the mitigation recommendations in the survey reports not only makes these communities safer but is also part of the criteria for attaining recognition on the Fire Risk Reduction Community List. Also, CAL FIRE Prevention Grant funding to address these mitigation recommendations will receive priority.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Soderlund provided an update on enforcement and speeding and said despite the impact the incident has created, the issue is increasing.

“Because the problem is continuing, the city has agreed to pay overtime for extra traffic enforcement and so ideally, I wanted an extra deputy a day for extra enforcement, but as we all know, we’re stretched so thin up here between all the cities and all the different events,” Soderlund said. 

An estimated 27 citations were issued at Las Tunas Beach last month in the course of a week for illegally parked vehicles.

Soderlund said he is also conducting a street racing enforcement operation for the months of October and November. 

“Our entire focus will be on people racing and people driving recklessly, so that’s in the works,” Soderlund said. 

The next Public Safety Commission is scheduled for Dec 6.