Bob Hertzberg, currently a California State Senator (D-Van Nuys) and majority leader emeritus of the State Senate, is a candidate for the LA County Board of Supervisors District 3 (which includes Malibu) in the November election. He issued a statement to the press and to Malibu city officials on Sunday saying he opposes overnight camping in the hills above Malibu.
Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti said in a phone interview that he couldn’t ask for a better statement from a county supervisor candidate.
“It’s a rational response to reality,” Grisanti said.
In his statement, Hertzberg describes Malibu’s hills and beaches as “national treasures” that need to be protected for the continued enjoyment of many.
He points out that the current conditions of extreme drought and higher temperatures, both caused by global warming, have resulted in dry fuel and a high risk of wildfire in forests and foothills in communities like, with conditions only expected to get worse.
“Under no circumstances can we risk another Woolsey Fire,” Hertzberg’s statement said. “With extreme fire weather conditions expected throughout the upcoming hot summer months, public safety in very high fire hazard severity zone communities like Malibu and all the impacted communities in the Santa Monica Mountains must be a top priority.”
He makes the argument that the prevention of wildfires in the first place not only protects billions of dollars of property, but also prevents environmental devastation, harm to wildlife, and the release of hazardous airborne toxins emitted by wildfires.
“I do not support policies by the county or any other government agency that allows overnight camping under these circumstances,” Hertzberg stated. “Our friends and families who live in these regions live in fear of devastating wildfires every day, and it’s up to us to implement policies that minimize putting them or the region’s safety in jeopardy.”
He is in favor of the public having full access to public lands during the day; and believes that if fire hazard conditions ever change, overnight camping might once again be considered.
The issue of overnight camping in and around Malibu has been a real hot-button issue for the community over the past few years. Even after the Woolsey Fire, Joe Edmiston, head of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority; County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and the California Coastal Commission have all worked together to get overnight camping approved in the hills above Malibu.
All of the many pleas from Malibu residents during public comments at Board of Supervisors meetings, as well as opposition from the City of Malibu on the issue of overnight camping, have fallen on deaf ears.
Malibu voters will have a choice of two candidates for District 3 supervisor in November: Hertzberg or West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. Horvath has not made any statements about overnight camping.