Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Unwanted East End Paddles Aren’t Going Anywhere for a While

• The Wheels of Caltrans Move Slowly


Pacific Coast Highway residents at Big Rock and Las Flores will continue to be stuck with the misplaced Qwick Kurb paddles that make their residences difficult to access, according to Caltrans representative Jim Riley.
Riley told the municipal Public Safety Commission that there is “not much movement on PCH regarding [the] Qwick Kurb contract.”
“Core problem areas at Las Flores and Big Rock will be taken care of,” Riley said. “But it hasn’t happened yet.”
“I know that you’ve really been trying to be responsive to public safety,” Susan Tellem said. “I appreciate that, but I feel like we’re treading water on the paddle thing. It’s been months. It makes us look like we don’t care. When it’s an emergency situation like this can you realistically tell us what we might be looking at for removing paddles?
“[The] six month estimate is accurate,” replied Riley. “I’m frustrated as well. It’s a safety project. It’s got to be corrected. I share your concern. I’m frustrated as well,” Riley said.
Crosswalk re-striping plans are also on hold. “Re-striping requests are in, but hasn’t happened yet,” Riley explained. “Thermoplastic material [the reflective paint used for striping] is hard to get, and Caltrans had a machine breakdown problem.”
“Theromplastic paint is almost impossible to get right now,” City of Malibu Public Works representative Richard Calvin concurred. “All of the stripers are pulling their hair out.”
Riley also confirmed that Caltrans is aware of the rumor that the Department of Fish and Game may have plans to close the beach access underpass at Zuma. Riley told the commission that the DFG allegedly will not allow the underpass, which is closed during winter storm season, to be dredged.
“Other public entities have put together alternatives, mostly based on left turn lanes, but none really accommodated peak flows and they did have accurate records to work from,” Riley elaborated.
“Are they saying its an endangered species issue?” asked Commissioner David Saul
“I can’t say,” replied Riley. “But the creek appears higher than the roadway. [That’s a] perilous situation at any time.”
The underpass, which allows west-bound beachgoers to cross under PCH to Zuma County Beach and provides access to Point Dume for Malibu Park residents, is almost always closed in the winter, when storm runoff and a higher water table flood the roadway.
The underpass structure has in the past been documented as a habitat for a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Recent efforts to restore and revegetate the Zuma Canyon wetland at the outflow of the creek has resulted in an increase in resident and migratory bird activity, despite an allegedly semi-permanent encampment of homeless people.
Riley indicated that the DFG would leave the area to “go as nature takes its course.”
“I’m concerned for the people who live in Zuma Canyon,” Commissioner Marlene Matlow said, indicating that the underpass was utilized in emergencies. “It’s a tremendous public safety issue. These people have to be able to use the underpass. In a fire they’re really cut off. I wonder if the community is aware of that?
“I don’t think we’re talking about the same place,” Riley said.
“There’s a large community of people blocked from using access and egress in times of emergency,” Matlow elaborated.
The underpass connects to the main Zuma parking lot but also exits onto Westward Beach, accessing Point Dume.
“This needs to be publicized,” Saul said.
Chair Carol Randall suggested that the commission arrange to meet with the DFG. The Malibu Surfside News was unable to confirm with the DFG if the rumored closure has a basis in fact.