City of Malibu

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The City of Malibu is one step closer to implementing nighttime parking restrictions on two segments of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)—one near Las Tunas Beach and one near the Malibu Pier. On Monday, Jan. 13, the City Council voted, 4-0, to approve the resolution. The council also voted to bring a resolution with similar parking restrictions near Zuma Beach and Corral Canyon Beach to be discussed at a meeting in the near future. 

Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner left the room on the advice of Assistant City Attorney Trevor Rusin. One of the proposed parking restriction segments discussed would be directly across from Malibu Surf Shack—Wagner, owner of Zuma Jay’s Surf Shop, recused himself from the item to avoid a perceived business conflict.

According to Assistant Planning Director Richard Mollica, this ordinance would mark the start of a parking management plan for the City of Malibu. The ordinance limits parking on Pacific Coast Highway from the west edge of the Peña Canyon drainage outfall to the east property line of 19562 Pacific Coast Highway, and from the west boundary of Sweetwater Canyon Drive to the west boundary of the crosswalk at the Malibu Pier. 

On the northbound side of both segments, there will be “No Parking” signs between 12-2 a.m., and on the southbound side from 2-4 a.m.

The Public Safety Commission recommended parking restrictions be citywide, but Mollica said city staff have been working with California Coastal Commission staff members, who recommended that Malibu implement restrictions in stages rather than a citywide ordinance.

“I realize these are only two areas, while the city’s Public Safety Commission has recommended this be something citywide. They had requested portions of Malibu Road, areas around Corral Beach, working your way up into the western end of town and looking toward the city boundary by Leo Carrillo [State Park],” Mollica said. “The reason why staff is only proposing this currently in two areas, and the way the ordinance is worded, is because staff has been working with the California Coastal Commission. They are going to be part of this as well.”

The next step is to get a coastal development permit for the installation of signs on PCH, Mollica said. The permit can be appealed by the California Coastal Commission. Planning staff is modeling Malibu’s parking ordinance on Los Angeles County’s restriction at Topanga State Beach, which was appealed by the coastal commission, but eventually approved.

Malibu resident and Public Safety Commissioner Chris Frost said the Malibu Public Safety Commission’s “No Parking” sign recommendation was apparently gutted by the belief that the Coastal Commission would not approve the full request to adopt citywide restrictions.

“If we only post Las Tunas and the area around the Malibu Pier, we will drive a stream number of motorhomes and other vehicles west to Corral Beach and Zuma,” Frost said. “Corral is already nearly full at night, and this will push a little more to both sides of PCH—exactly what we’re trying to avoid.” 

This would compromise coastal access as well as the health and safety of residents, according to Frost.

Cathey Cadieux, who lives in Malibu Park, asked council members how they allow campers in front of Zuma Beach.

“Why don’t we get signs in our neighborhood?” Cadieux asked. 

She said she demanded a citywide ordinance.

Resident Cameron Wellwood said he was opposed to the way the restrictions have been drawn up. He said restrictions should be citywide and based on the height and weight of vehicles. The current ordinance is just going to push the problem elsewhere, he predicted.

“Basically, if you go ahead with this midnight thing and then two in the morning, the people that do decide to stay are going to be doing illegal U-turns while everyone’s driving around on the highway. That’ll be fun,” Wellwood said wryly. “Basically endanger everybody, and it’s pitch black on PCH.”

Resident Keegan Gibbs, also a member of the public safety commission, supported a permitting process for height and weight restrictions. He said Santa Monica and Venice have done this, kicking the can down the road. 

Santa Monica pushed the camps toward Venice, according to Gibbs.

“Venice started doing that, now it’s pushed them toward us,” he said. “So, anyways, I’m not sure. I don’t really have the right answer, but I do believe that this isn’t the right answer.”

This is the third time the city has tried to pass a parking ordinance, Mollica said. A permitting process was put forward before, but was seen as preferential parking, something that would hinder access and not be approved by the coastal commission, he said.

The city also brought forward an oversized vehicle ban citywide. The coastal commission wrote the city a letter opposing the ban, saying the city was targeting campers, Mollica said.

“The moment that that ban started to affect recreational vehicles like RVs, then we were getting into environmental justice issues,” Mollica said.

The city is looking for a path to solve this problem, even if it’s incremental, Planning Director Bonnie Blue said. She said the city does not want to get caught up in a round of appeals and get turned down by the Coastal Commission.

Los Angeles County was able to convince the Coastal Commission that they had a safe parking program in the process, Blue said, which she said was a big selling point.

If Malibu had a safe parking program that provided alternative parking spaces, California Coastal Commission staff would likely be more supportive of citywide parking restrictions, Mollica said. This would also likely cover the city under the Martin v. City of Boise decision, which protects the homeless’ right to sleep in public spaces if city governments have no other sleeping spaces available in local shelters. 

“We fully recognize that this is just a partial solution, if a solution at all,” Blue said. 

Mayor Karen Farrer said she feared an all-or-nothing approach because if turned down, the city would be back to square one. 

She said she realizes this ordinance just relocates the problem, but that getting something on the books as soon as possible provides at least some relief to Malibu residents in the meantime. City council will look into expanding the restrictions once accommodations like safe parking are in place, Farrer said.

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