In an effort to find solutions to increasing rates of homelessness, the City of Malibu is considering a number of potential options, including a safe parking program, temporary shelter and affordable housing.
The ideas were discussed during a special city council meeting on Jan. 29 dedicated to homelessness, which was initiated by Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson. Pierson opened the special meeting by saying the city hears Malibu residents loud and clear. He urged residents to continue sending emails with their thoughts and concerns.
“We need to express ourselves as we continue making our way through this issue,” Pierson said.
During the special meeting, Malibu residents, sheriff’s deputies, representatives from Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office and homeless nonprofits and agencies, among others, came together to discuss various aspects of the issue.
Council decided to direct city staff to return with a report on specific options to address homelessness in Malibu. Options included information and locations for a safe parking program and exploring the potential for a temporary shelter to be located in the Malibu Superior Court property (next to Malibu Library).
“It seems like the easiest way to start is with safe parking,” Mayor Karen Farrer said.
According to Molly Reisman, Supervisor Kuehl’s housing and homelessness deputy, the county currently funds safe parking programs through Measure H, a sales tax passed in March 2017 which raises about $355 million annually for 10 years for homelessness initiatives. Reisman said the county will work with the City of Malibu to get a safe parking program going.
“I appreciate the county, Farrer said. “We will definitely be asking for help on this. We can’t do it alone.”
Council members also asked staff to return with an analysis on potential staffing needs associated with these options, to explore outside funding sources for the items and to look into plans formed by cities like San Clemente or Laguna Beach, which have implemented what they said were successful homeless policies.
Kimberly Doebler, a homeless woman from Laguna Niguel, said during public comment there needs to be a place for the homeless to go.
“They don’t wanna hurt you, but they need some help,” Doebler said.
Adding affordable housing options in the city was also discussed, and Farrer called on anyone who has private property and is interested in coordinating on an affordable housing project to reach out to the city.
John Maceri, CEO of homeless advocacy nonprofit The People Concern, said Malibu is moving in the right direction with regard to housing. The People Concern is an organization providing social services to homeless individuals in LA County.
“It’s not just ‘housing first,’ it’s ‘housing always,’” Maceri said. “Because if we don’t keep people housed, we’re doing them a huge disservice.”
If the city can identify land to build housing, he said, that would be the best example of a private-public partnership. Maceri said he thought Malibu residents would pitch in to build the housing if land were available through the city.