Reduced Speeds, Barricaded Lanes, And Difficulty Getting Around May Be In PCH’s Future – Council Votes To Consider State Of Emergency

Written by on October 24, 2023

=. Malibu gets tons of support from the county and the state … to radically change PCH.

=. Envision PCH as a boulevard … reduced lanes … maybe lanes barricaded off in places … lower speed limits for sure.

=  One city councilman wants to paste new numbers on the speed limit signs right now. 

=. But others want to at least know what he is is talking about … before approving a state of emergency, 

Editor’s note:  This newscast was being prepared for broadcast this morning, but on Monday evening we were summoned to San Diego, where my daughter and her husband rushed to a hospital with a baby coming a little early.  Wyatt weighs in at 8 pounds 6 ounces and is looking great.  But because of that, the newscast could not be broadcast this morning on KBUU.   We apologize. Family first.

Malibu’s city council wants to declare a state of emergency and unilaterally start reducing speed limits on Pacific Coast Highway … possibly closing lanes and adding traffic lights … to slow traffic on the road outside the current legal process. 

By a 5-0 vote Monday night, the council directed its city attorney and city manager to come back as soon as possible with list of steps it can take – possibly outside state laws as currently enforced. 

City council member Bruce Silverstein called for the city to declare a state of emergency and take drastic … unprecedented actions. 

Silversteoj prop[osed that the city simply paste new speeds on the speed limit signs. 

He proposed temporary barriers to close traffic lanes … maybe some of them at night only … to reduce traffic flow.

Sivrstein proposed using the city’s police powers … its legal right to protect its residents from a specific, identified danger.

“The most deadly road in the state travels through our city, and its the only road that travels thru our city. 

“Nobody can go to the supermarket without getting on that highway.”

No city council member would disagree with that.

Silverstein proposed the declare a state of emergency, and taking emergency action outside normal state laws and procedures.   Then the city should

  • decrease the speed limits on PCH right now – “paste new numbers on those signs,”
  • barricade off lanes to throttle traffic flow – maybe some only at night.,
  • file lawsuits  against the county and state for failing to send enough deputies and CHP officers to protect the city.

Other council members agreed to consider drastic charges, but not that drastic.

Paul Grisanti noted that, for the first time, the County Board Of Supervisors, state legislators and the governor’s office were willing to help.  He argued it was poor policy to sue people trying to help. 

Marianne Riggins wanted more details before endorsing the state of emergency gambit proposed by Silverstein. 

Like … what new speed limits?  Where?  Close traffic lanes where?  Deal with traffic jams how?  Enforce that … exactly how?

Riggins said a state of emergency without specific plan was not a good course of action. 

“I want to have practical things included on that list exactly what things are going egging to be changed and timelines that they are going the done. 

“That is my biggest concern. That we are going through with this emergency = action and there is no meat behind as to what it is exactly we are going to be doing.” 

Silverstein confronted Riggins:

“I wrote these down and I said it before and I’ll say again it and these are as concrete as can be. 

“Consider our rights unilaterally reduce the speed limits. 

“I said paste new numbers right on those signs.  That is as concrete as can be.

“Place temporary traffic signals on PCH.”

Riggins interrupted, saying she had been painted into a corner and did not appreciate it:

“I do not thing that this is the time or the place, we should bring that back in a meeting.”

Silverstein shot back:

“These are concrete proposals.”  

The council by consensus asked the city attorney to come back with recommendations on that. 

It appears that the county and state are willing to cut Malibu some slack … in terms of tightening up rules on PCH … which is a state highway designed to move the most vehicles possible.

Last night …  county supervisor Lindsay Horvath appeared before the council in an unprecedented event …  a county supervisor at City Hall, publicly offering to work with Malibu.

“We will not let the boundaries of government bureaucracy be the reason we do not take action. We will bring everyone together find and implement real solutions. 

[APPLAUSE]“Senator Allen and I are committed to working with Caltrans to work with an existing laws to reduce speed limits, more enforcement of speeding is also essential and as you heard we are working to ensure that more CHP officers are brought to the 21 mile stretch of the PCH.”

And Sacramento appears to be moving in Malibu’s direction. 

State Senator Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, pledged to carry law changes through the state capitol … maybe even re-examining PCH’s status as a state highway – aimed at moving people from one place to another.

“Some off the recent events beg the question of whether we are even conceptualizing the road properly.

“Should it be rethought of as a boulevard, or something different than the fast state highway that has has been for so many years,

“Just because things are the way they are, the rules are the way they are at the state level doesn’t mean that we can cannot change them.

“And it’s our job to both understand why the rules are written the way they were but then to evaluate them and change them if necessary.”

One brand new law that will need immediate changes, is the state’s three-week-old speed camera system.

Until that law was signed into law by the governor this fall, automatic radar cameras cannot send tickets in California  … their tickets dID not have the force of law.

The Legislature just approved six cities that can test limited use of the cameras,. 

Not only is Malibu not on the list of six cities  … but there is a bigger problem the senator said.

That would be PCH’s current status as a state highway.

“I’d like to see Malibu included in the program but we have probably got to rewrite it to include state highways in the program but we are probably going to have to rewrite it in a way that would make it appropriate for a state highway.

“And we’ve been talking to Sheriff Seetoo …  Assemblymember Irwin about getting that passed as soon as we can in the coming year.”

With the Legislature out of session for the east of 2024 … there is no way that law can even be considered until next spring.

Might there be a way around that law???

Or at least a way to bring significant numbers of California Highway Patrol officers into Malibu???

City manager Steve McClary last night said … the governor’s office is looking at changing policy there. 

“We’ve heard that the California transportation agency is currently pursuing increased CHP coverage for Malibu especially at night, to help stop of the street racing and speeding.” [APPLAUSE FADEOUT]

It should be  noted that the local CHP has patrol duties in all the canyon roads … plus PCH west of Malibu … and the entire San Fernando Valley.   The CHOP has an officer shortage and is hard pressed to staff its patrol  roster as is

Any additional CHP officers on PCH will have to come from elsewhere in the state.

The top cop in Malibu .. Sheriff’s Captain Jennifer Seetoo … won a huge round of applause with her plan for “three E’s.”




Monday afternoon … Seetoo had a difficult chore. 

“Maybe a couple hours before I came to this meeting I met with the families.

“I met with three of there families.

“And let me tell you that was one of the hardest things I have ever had too do as a police office.

“I do not ever want to so that again.”

As for education …. Seetoo wants the documentary “21 Miles In Malibu” screened widely .. including showing it too every Pepperdine freshman,

As for enforcement … more patrols …. Supervisor Lindsay Horvath said that would be possible, 

But the local sheriff’s captain said the countywide shortage of sheriff’s deputies means she cannot all of a sudden ramp up the number of patrol cars and motorcycles on PCH.”

“As for enforcement, we have already increased patrols as much as possible,

“As as you know we are down 30 percent at Malibu-Lost Hills station, it’;s different than it was in 2019, when I was able to implement the STEP program the summer team that actually went out and did rapid patrols.”

And as for engineering thew highway to reduce speeds, Seetoo homed in on the comprehensive 2015 traffic engineering study for the highway. 

That study was all but forgotten by most.  It was drawn up after the public outcry over the deaths of 5 people within 6 months in 2010, including Malibu teenager Emily Shane.

“We all remember the 2015 PCH task force report. Of all the recommendations that were made in that report. 

“We need to take that out wipe off the dust and look at that again. 

“And we need to identify what has been done and what has not been done … and identify what needs to be done.

By KBUU’s estimate … about 15 out of the 130 recommendations from that report have either been completed or started. 

115 have yet to be done. 

As for the investigation into the fatal crash last Tuesday, the department is still running computer simulations, gathering blood chemistry evidence, and working to put together there case against the driver who plowed into the four women from Peppederine, 

Last night … investigators working last week’s crash appeared before the city council.  But they had no new pubic information … they said the case is progressing.

Getting back to enforcement … as of last night … the sheriff’s office had written 6,183 traffic tickets … year to date … on PCH n Malibu.  3,009 of them were for excessive speed

And sometimes … still … PCH is drawing people who just don’t give a whit.

Sgt. Chris Sunderlund last night told of a motorist three nights ago was clocked at 109 miles per hour heading up the hill … west … from Webb Way. 

“109 miles an hour.  

“It took him all the way to ramirez to catch this guy (6 miles). 

“and in this case it was a girl it was an 18-year-old female. She happened to be unless she didn’t have a license. The deputy asked herr, ‘do you know how fast you were going?’ 

“She freely admitted it.

“Then he asked her, ‘do you realize the four girls that were killed on PCH last week?’

“And she even knew about it.

“And here she was driving our here on PCH, driving like an idiot, pardon my French.

“So that s the level of the problem. That we have on PCH.”

109 miles an hour is uncommon.

Far more common is the driver going 5 or 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. 

Many of them … Malibu residents.

What can Malibu locals do???

City councilman Doug Stewart said last night … simple … change your habits. 

“Everybody says, ‘gee, what can I do?’

“Let me tell you what you can do, and tell all your friends this. 

“Every resident of Malibu has got a speedometer in the car, 

“Look at it, and look at it. And when a sign says 45 miles, you drive 45 or less. 

“You’ve got people stacked up behind you? People will know you that in Malibu you don’t race on PCH.  

“You set the pace on PCH.”

[There are no radio stations in the database]