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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paradise Cove Public Safety Issues Get City Council Attention

• Concerns Include Traffic, Parking, Pedestrians on PCH and Problems for Residents in the Area
BY BILL KOENEKER

Although it was not on the agenda of the Monday night meeting, the Malibu City Council heard an informal report from City Manager Jim Thorsen about traffic congestion, parking and other problems at Paradise Cove this summer.
Overflow traffic, hundreds of walk-in visitors who park on the narrow shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway, and the closure of the road leading to the cove have created traffic jams and swarms of pedestrians at the intersection unlike those ever seen before, according to residents.
“I have received a lot of complaints about the parking,” said Councilmember Joan House, who noted complaints have also surfaced about the parking along PCH at the trail head to Escondido Canyon Falls.
“Near Paradise Cove on the ocean side, the cars are parked near driveways and the residents cannot get out,” House said.
David Saul, a member of the city’s Public Safety Commission, said people are upset about it since many beachgoers are walking along PCH. “It is very dangerous. It is an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
Councilmember Skylar Peak said he is also getting phone calls about it. “Maybe we should close off the parking lot,” he said.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal said she and Councilmember Lou La Monte are meeting with the state Secretary of Transportation next month and encouraged folks to sent photos or videos to the mayor’s office so that other officials can see firsthand the problem. “Lou and I welcome movies,” she said.
Thorsen said the staff has met with the Cove owners. “We went over a lot of issues,” said the city manager, who explained there will be a hearing before the planning commission in September on renewal of a septic system permit.
“We talked about the parking, the cabana rentals, alcohol on the beach, and the food service on the sand,” he said.
Peak wanted to know how the septic system could handle so many visitors. “Where are we at with the water quality? How can they possibly have that many people? How are we managing that?” he asked.
Thorsen said there were two issues at Paradise Cove concerning water quality. The first is stormwater flow. “It is a slow trickle [in the summer]. There is a high bacteria count [from the creek]. It goes through treatment and it’s clean. It is discharged [near the creek mouth] and within minutes it is dirty,” he said.
Thorsen said the wastewater issue is complicated by what appears to be a background of bacteria from natural sources. “There has been no study to determine [the efficacy of] wastewater treatment. High bacteria counts appear in high use, low use, summer and winter. They do use porta-pottys when there is high use. That is OK. It may be natural bacteria sources.”
House said she and her husband visited Escondido Canyon around 6:30 p.m. one evening and counted 184 people on the trail and in the canyon. “It was clean. It was nicer than I remember,” she said.
 Sacramento’s frenzy to make cuts to the state budget include funding cuts to the Brown Act noticing requirements mandated by the state law that were always traditionally paid for by the state.
Taking note of that activist Hans Laetz came to council chambers this week to ask the city to “consider an order, policy or procedure for support or commitment to the Brown Act.”
He said the city does a good job of adhering to the state law, especially when it comes to public noticing.
The law was enacted to create a more open government by requiring cities, counties and other government entities to enable the public to know when government business is going to take place. The law also refers to how decisions are made at government meetings by officials.
City Attorney Christi Hogin confirmed the state budget had stopped funding Brown Act mandates, but the city would continue to do so. “We have always gone beyond the Brown Act,” she said. “The posting of the agendas. We will continue to do that. We hope next year we will be reimbursed, but it does not cost that much,” she added.
There were also complaints heard by the council concerning sewage transfer trucks and a junk and trash removal truck which posts its advertising on a truck bed of trash.
Aaron Goodson told council members the trash truck has garbage spilling out in between its big sandwich board ads. “I thought that was illegal. Everybody will start posting signs. It is just inappropriate. I don’t know what is allowed.”
Ryan Embree told council members several septic pumping companies have been doing sewage transfer along Civic Center Way.
“I’m not sure it is legal. There is a new storm drain that goes to the beach. It is a serious issue.”
The septic pumping trucks are a regular fixture on Pacific Coast Highway near Heathercliff, so much so, there are giant potholes on the southside shoulder of PCH, which is dirt and mud.
There are also cars and trucks parked along the same section of shoulder displaying “for sale” signs, and several food trucks do a brisk business.
The advertising trash truck that Goodson complained about has been spotted in recent weeks making a home for itself amongst the other trucks along what some Point Dume residents jokingly refer to as the industrial zone of Point Dume.
Thorsen said code enforcement was aware of the advertising trash truck. “Hopefully we will have the truck removed,” he said.

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