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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Council Discusses PCH ‘Junk Truck’ Issue

• Officials Say Solution to Roadside Activity Controversy Is Difficult

BY BILL KOENEKER

Improvement efforts for the strip of Pacific Coast Highway sometimes jokingly referred to as the “industrial zone” of Point Dume between Portshead and Heathercliff roads have become much more difficult to incorporate than anticipated by City Hall.
The strip is visited daily by food trucks and their commuting customers, junk trucks advertising their business, autos for sale and the discharge of septic from pump trucks into a “mother” tank truck.
The council this week informally discussed the issue, which was not on the agenda, after a Point Dume resident registered another complaint about the activities along that portion of PCH.
“The council should be ashamed of the situation between Heathercliff and Portshead. It is disgusting. I’m sick of it. It is unbelievable and it is getting progressively worse,” said Jeremy, or JD, Stevens. “Somebody is going to get killed. The junk truck is filled with trash.”
City Manager Jim Thorsen, during his report to the council, said it is a lot more difficult to control the situation on PCH than anticipated.
“The food trucks are allowed on a state highway. But we are certainly aware of it.We are reaching out to [property] owners about it,” he said.
Councilmember Joan House said part of the difficulty is the legal issues with the food trucks.
City Attorney Christi Hogin said one aspect of control of the food trucks is the amount of time they can be parked in one location.
“The controversy we hear a lot is about how they compete with local businesses,” she said.
House went on to say the junk truck owner has been sending attorney letters to the city saying they know the law and that he is simply making a living for himself and family.
“The laws of the state are very much in favor of the junk man. The city needs to write a law,” House said.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal agreed. “The junk trucks are allowed to be there,” she said, adding there is a time limit by which they need to move on. “You can just not hire that business,” she said.
The food trucks, according to Rosenthal, are a problem generating trash, odors and a need for bathrooms.
“The food trucks cannot put out tables and chairs, otherwise they need a bathroom. They have stopped. We are also working with the Malibu Bay Company, which owns the property behind the fence. I know that it looks like nothing is being done, but we have been working on it,” Rosenthal said.
Councilmember John Sibert said the city has been looking for years for a way to regulate it.
“I have been bitching about this for some time. We could pass an ordinance, but we don’t own our main street. I’m not sure our regulations could apply to a state highway, which is owned by somebody else,” he said.
“We are all interested in getting rid of the junk trucks,” said Mayor Lou La Monte.

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