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Paul Grisanti

Last March, I attended a meeting where several members of the city council, all of the public works, public safety and planning commissioners, and some members of the public met with Caltrans to learn about a crosswalk they intended to add in the vicinity of Malibu Seafood. That meeting was a disastrous display of how unprepared Caltrans can be. They showed up with incorrect exhibits and none of the presenters had visited the site. They were unaware of the existence of the bridge just east of Malibu Seafood or that the Sara Wan Trailhead has a sign directing people to cross under the highway to the beach. The locals tried to educate the Caltrans representatives and expressed their support for an alternative to the crosswalk that would direct people to cross safely under the bridge.

Last week, Caltrans held another meeting about the proposed crosswalk near Malibu Seafood and the Sara Wan Trailhead. The locals in attendance were still in favor of clearing out the undercrossing/flood control channel to allow the public to easily access the Sara Wan Trail or the ocean without crossing the traffic lanes. It is hoped that pedestrians would opt for going under the traffic rather than taking a chance with the cars.

The original plans from 1929 indicate that the concrete floor of the bridge/flood control device is about 14 feet below the bottom of the bridge. Now, there is about four-and-a-half feet of clearance. That means there is at least nine feet of dirt and sand obstructing the free passage of flood waters, reducing the capacity to less than a third of what would be required to handle a 100-year storm.

The Caltrans representatives stated that cleaning out the excess sand under the bridge couldn’t be done because they would need a coastal permit, Army Corps of Engineers approval, Fish and Wildlife permits, etc. etc.

City officials pointed out that Caltrans has an active emergency permit from the governor to clean out Woolsey debris from all flood control devices. Caltrans then claimed that the work had been completed. When the audience challenged the truth of that assertion, Caltrans representatives agreed to check and get back to us. One of the Caltrans representatives then left the room for 10 minutes but returned with the news that she had just spoken to Burns Pacific, the contractor with the contract. Burns Pacific said the repair is not on their work plan and never has been. 

One of the Caltrans officials then dropped the official persona and explained that they had a permit, approved plans and funding and they were going to put in the crosswalk. In a “facepalm” moment, he then called us “You People” to universal groans and backpedaling from his colleagues.

I’m thinking of sponsoring a sandcastle building contest on the beach directly south of the bridge to utilize the sand that is blocking the undercrossing and move it to where the tide can make it part of the littoral flow, rather than wait for another rain that may clog the undercrossing altogether. I think it will be fun, so dig out your sand shovels and pails and tune in next week for a date and time for the event. What’s more Malibu than building sandcastles?


According to the city’s website, 183 applications have been submitted (nearly 40 percent of those burned) and 32 have received permits to build. Only 12 of the applications are for more than a 10 percent increase in size. The widespread surge of mansionization feared by John Mazza and his acolytes has not materialized. 

You may want to attend the city’s acknowledgement of the one-year anniversary of Woolsey at Zuma Beach on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Zuma Beach parking lot 8.

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