“Last weekend did not go well, in my estimation.”
Those were the frustrated words of Malibu Mayor Karen Farrer who did a little Wednesday afternoon quarterbacking at a Rotary Club of Malibu Zoom meeting on May 20. Farrer was aggravated at the mess in Malibu the weekend of May 16, when the county opened the beaches, but not parking lots or restrooms.
“It was predictable,” the mayor said. “The county opened the beaches for active recreation, which nobody paid any attention to—unless you consider sitting and getting a tan active recreation. I don’t. It was basically a disaster.”
Farrer was bothered by the sheriff’s lack of enforcement of LA County Department of Public Health guidelines.
“It was very clear the Sheriff is not enforcing masks and social distancing. It’s the whole county—not just Malibu. The sheriff’s [deputies] are outnumbered,” Ferrer said. “I was disheartened to see they made an order from the county that the sheriff’s are considering—at best—a suggestion.”
With increased enforcement—including the rollout of the sheriff’s summer beach team—conditions seemed to improve this weekend, by most accounts.
When The Malibu Times caught up with Farrer Tuesday morning after the busy Memorial Day Weekend, she said she had not heard from officials she was in contact with of any major problems in the city.
“No news is good news,” she said. Farrer attributed the higher law enforcement presence to the less chaotic holiday weekend.
But last weekend was another story.
The mayor railed against people trashing the city.
“Everywhere I go now, what am I seeing, and you all are probably, too—masks [and] gloves thrown on the ground [or] left in the baskets at the grocery store,” Farrer said. “That kind of basic premise of life—clean up after yourself—I think there’s a whole lot of people in this world that didn’t get that memo.”
Farrer also complained of motorists parking and driving in unsafe ways.
“There were cars parked bumper-to-bumper on both sides of the highway the entire bridge over Malibu Creek. That’s all a No Parking zone,” she said. “I heard from all kinds of people and I have video from my own neighborhood of people parked in No Parking zones. We had some motorcycle clubs, car clubs—talk about the Wild West. We went up higher in the Sheriff‘s [Department] food chain to the division commander and said we cannot have another weekend like last weekend. Since the Zuma [Beach parking] lot was closed, it pushed people farther into the nooks and crannies of this city. It pushed people into neighborhoods, into places where you don’t normally see people who want to go to beach parking, but the lots were closed. There was no way that was going to work.”
In response to complaints, the Zuma Beach parking lots were reopened in time for the holiday.
“I heard stories of lifeguards getting spit on. Nobody deserves that, no matter what their job is,” Farrer said. “The lifeguards didn’t sign up for law enforcement. They signed up to be lifeguards. This is not an ideal situation they have found themselves in—enforcing things that were not normally part of their job.”
Farrer did have praise, however, for Malibu’s Volunteers on Patrol (VOP) who wrote a whopping 997 tickets that weekend.
“If you know any of our Volunteers on Patrol, please say, ‘Thank you,’” the mayor said. “They’re all Malibu residents. We have everything from a Pepperdine finance professor to an entertainment lawyer to a recently graduated college student to a—I don’t mean this disparagingly, because I include myself—a housewife.
“We have a huge spectrum of people here in Malibu that work as VOPs,” she continued. “They volunteer all of their time and they have turned down requests from outside Malibu to serve [as] VOP. I think the reasoning being, and I agree with it 100 percent—we don’t want mercenaries from outside of Malibu coming in to teach us a lesson. I think that sets itself up for some bad things to happen. VOPs (who work under the authority of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station) are adding a huge benefit of safety and enforcement.”