The LA County Grand Jury has indicted the alleged shooter in the Malibu Creek State Park shooting of the father sleeping in a tent with his two young daughters last summer. He’s being charged with murder and numerous counts of attempted murder for the many incidents that occurred in the park and vicinity over a period of time. The district attorney could have filed directly but decided instead decided to take it to the grand jury. Sometimes they do that in high profile cases like this one. Sometimes they do it because their case may be a little iffy and they want political covering fire. We’ll find out soon enough.
The California Coastal Commission has reluctantly given the OK for LA County to put some parking restrictions onto some of our streets from roughly midnight to 2 o’clock in the morning on one side of the street and 2-4 a.m. on the other side of the street. They don’t say why, in so many words, but the purpose is to keep people from sleeping in their cars on city streets and to stop people living in campers from turning Pacific Coast Highway into a camping ground. What makes it all kind of iffy is that there are an estimated 60,000 people living in cars and campers in LA County and that population is growing. There are also some court decisions that make it kind of questionable if local governments try to push the homeless away into the community next door without making provisions to handle some of the homeless in their own communities. It’s a very sticky problem. There is a substantial shortage of housing at almost any affordable price in almost every community in the state. Cities are hesitant to provide restrooms and showers for fear it will serve as an invitation and just bring more people to them. The Los Angeles light rail system has made it easier for homeless to leave the central city and come out to the ‘burbs.
Recently, the county changed some rules in an attempt to get rid of the campers that you see parked along PCH in the Sunset Mesa area. The problem is that some people feel that it’s going to push those people into Malibu, which may very well happen for a while. To change the parking rules, there are a number of steps the city has to go through so those new rules will hold up in court. I’ve heard rumors it could take up to a year, so it’s possible we may be seeing more campers locally while the city goes through the process. There are a lot of conflicting agendas and there are no easy answers to the problem of homelessness.
The state legislature made a number of attempts in this last session to try and find some solutions to the housing problem. One bill attempted to allow builders to erect four- or six-story buildings near transportation hubs. That went down in defeat. Another tried to allow duplexes, triplexes and even fourplexes in areas zoned R1, meaning single family residence zones, which also went down. Then, they passed another bill that makes it easier to build granny flats, called additional dwelling units (ADU) and the governor signed it. How that plays out in Malibu is not quite clear yet. In the past, cities have placed stumbling blocks into their codes to try and block the building of granny flats by requiring extra parking or setbacks or special access requirements, but days of those kind of games may be ending. The legislature knows that no city council anywhere is going to vote for more density or more traffic. The only way to get more housing is to take control of building away from the localities and create some statewide rules that mandates that every community take their fair share of the growth. It hasn’t happened yet, but my guess is it’s coming despite all the local opposition.
The fire rebuilds are moving along in Malibu. Nothing in the city is completed yet but the process is definitely picking up momentum. As of this writing, there are 13 applications waiting approval by city planning, planning has already approved 170 permits and 32 permits have actually been issued. No houses have been completed yet, but it’s coming soon. Most people who want to rebuild are taking the quickest route to rebuilding that’s available. There are 56 applicants who have taken the like-for-like path. That means they are going to rebuild essentially the same size house that burned down. Another 102 have opted for the like-for-like-plus-10-percent path. Both of those categories provide the quickest route to rebuild. Only 12 of the burnouts have opted for major changes, which is a far slower process. The city’s goal was to get everyone back into their homes as quickly as they could. To do this, they hired extra vendors and people to expedite the process. Previously, the planning department was not staffed to handle this kind of a volume. I know for the people who have been burned out it all seems glacially slow, but by the usual home building standards this is all moving at warp speed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case with the county, who appear to be moving at their typical lackadaisical speed somewhere between slow and “we’ll do it when we get around to it.” Unless our County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl lights a fire under her people, it will be forever before the county area burnouts are rebuilt. The greater Malibu area lost about 750 homes in the Woolsey Fire. About half were in the city of Malibu and another half were in the county Malibu. Even Malibu Canyon, which ends on PCH, contains many people who live north of the city boundary, but they are all an essential part of greater Malibu. I estimate that we lost about 16 to 17 percent of our greater Malibu population, roughly about 3,000 of the 18,000 people in greater Malibu. We want them all to come back as quickly as they can.