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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PCH Issues Continue to Dominate Safety Commission

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


Highway safety issues continued to dominate the City of Malibu's Public Safety Commission at its first meeting of 2011. The intersection at PCH and Busch Drive took center stage for much of the session.
“The City of Malibu is in violation of the Local Coastal Program all along PCH, but especially at Busch Drive,” Malibu Park resident Hans Laetz told the commission during public comment. Laetz, who called the intersection “an atrocity,” presented photos of the intersection.
Laetz added that the Bonsall Drive intersection, which has an overgrown blind curve with no space for pedestrians leading up to the westbound entrance, is also a problem, and that the Busch and Bonsall intersections are just two examples of many areas on PCH that he views as not compliant with the Coastal Act or the city’s LCP.
“There is no room for pedestrians,” Laetz said. “That road was engineered in 1945, built in 1947, the City of Malibu has not done one thing except [add] the bus stops and we all know how well those were done.”
Laetz suggested that a double signal, like the one at Los Flores, could be a potential solution at the Busch and Bonsall location. “I'm not a traffic engineer, but time has come,” Laetz said.
Lew Gluesing, the city’s traffic consultant, told the commission that he had reviewed the traffic study for the Busch and Bonsall intersections and visited the location earlier that day.
“Based on traffic data this intersection doesn't have the signal concerns or deficiencies from a safety point of view that I can see,” Gluesing said. He later clarified that the issue he was looking at was vehicular not pedestrian safety.
The commission continued to discuss the rumor that the Department of Fish and Game may permanently close the Zuma Beach underpass at some point in the future. In summer, the underpass offers westbound beachgoers access to the Zuma parking lot without requiring a left turn across the highway. However, Zuma Creek floods the road during the rainy season and the pass is closed for as much as three to five months a year.
“We haven’t had any comments back from DFG,” city public works director Bob Brager told the commission. “I don't know if anyone knows what will happen with that.”
“It’s an important and crucial issue that needs to be addressed,” Commissioner Marlene Matlow said, indicating that it is the National Park Service that wants to vacate the easement.
“Beaches and Harbors is a major factor,” Caltrans representative Jim Riley said.
Commissioner David Saul suggested that the city find out which agency is responsible and invite them to a future meeting.
The commission discussed whether there was room to align the eastbound beach exit with the Busch Drive traffic light and whether increased eastbound access would offset the potential closure of the underpass.
“What is involved in closing down an entrance to the parking lot of the public beach?” asked Chair Carol Randall.
Brager presented photographs of several recent improvements, including new parking signage on Cliffside Drive at the Point Dume headlands and on Westward Beach Road and sidewalk repairs on Morning View Drive
“If it’s in our jurisdiction we need to address it immediately,” Brager said. “We can’t replace signs in [Caltrans and Beaches and Harbors’] jurisdiction, he explained. “If anything is within our jurisdiction—signs broken, knocked down, faded—we can replace, if it’s brought to our attention.”

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