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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

City Is Still Discussing Possible Paradise Cove Traffic Solution

BY BILL KOENEKER

Malibu City Councilmember Laura Rosenthal answered critics, who contend state and local authorities are not doing enough to abate the traffic congestion problem at Pacific Coast Highway and Paradise Cove Road.
“We want to limit parking on PCH. We have been given direction by the California Coastal Commission,” she said.
Rosenthal indicated the coastal agency wants the city to do an inventory of access points in Malibu. They also want to know how much free parking is available. “We have lots of free parking here,” added Rosenthal.
According to Rosenthal,  CCC staff suggested the city work with Catrans, since the state owns the highway and any reduction of parking spaces would come from them.
“Our number one concern is safety. We are meeting with people and want to see something in place by next summer,” Rosenthal said. “I wanted to see something this summer, but government moves slowly.”
Months ago, the Malibu City Council heard from City Manager Jim Thorsen about the traffic congestion, parking, pedestrians on PCH and other problems at the intersection above Paradise Cove.
Council members at previous meetings said they got phone calls from irate citizens and were told by Thorsen the staff was aware of the problems and had talked to the property owner.
At one city council meeting, Thorsen told council members, the property owner had hired a sheriff to manage traffic on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 to 5:30 p.m. on efforts by the municipality to mitigate the mess at the increasingly dangerous intersection.
The city manager said that helped somewhat, but the situation, for the most part, remained unchanged.
“We have issued a letter to the property owner about it,” Thorsen said.
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 when the parking lot is full 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.
“Near Paradise Cove on the ocean side the cars are parked near driveways and the residents cannot get out,” House added.
David Saul, a member of the 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 was also getting phone calls about it. “Maybe we should close off the parking lot,” he said.
Then Mayor Laura Rosenthal said she and then Councilmember Lou La Monte were meeting with the Secretary of Transportation and encouraged folks to send in photos or videos to the mayor's office so that other officials could see first hand the problem. “Lou and I welcome movies,” she said.
Thorsen had further explained the staff had met with the property owner.
“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.”

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