City Council “Failing” To Address “Imminent Danger” From Fire, Sets Up A Commission, And Schedules Vacation

Written by on July 13, 2021

Malibu’s city council Monday night set up – but failed to appoint members – to a commission aimed at guiding city pollcy towards homeless persons, on the same night that firefighters described an imminent hazard from a large homeless camp in the canyons of eastern Malibu.

There’s some confusion between the fire department … and the sheriff … over whether a person has been arrested for allegedly setting a fire in the rugged brush of Tuna Canyon.

The LA County sheriff’s office says a homeless person was arrested … and will be charged with unlawfully causing a fire on forest land.

That would be a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison.

Assistant fire chief Drew Smith … however … told the city council last night that no arrests have been made yet.

One way or the other … homeless persons appear responsible … Smith told the city council last night.


We know that preliminary findings point to persons experiencing homelessness is most likely the cause of this.

We do not have any people detained … but yet we do know through investigations, preliminary, that it could be homeless that are within that area.”

Drew Smith ,… the assistant county fire chief … told the city council last night that the apparent cooking fire spread up slopes that were in some cases vertical … or even cliffs leaning over the canyon.

Fire hoses had to be laid up both the north and south edges of the fire … as it chewed up the cliffs to the east.

At the bottom … says the fire chief … a series of camps.


I hiked it the other morning which was Saturday morning … up the drainage … and from where we started our hose lay up the up the road up to the point of origin there was eight encampments that were heavily populated and that were flourishing if you will.”

Friday’s fire burned about five acres in a steep canyon above eastern Malibu.

It was a cooking fire that got out of control.

By one count … 10 fires have been caused by people camping in the brush around Malibu.

City council members last night called the issue a crisis.

Mikke Pierson:


In my opinion we are failing.

As a city council at this time we are failing to take enough proper actions to

which has increased and unacceptable public safety concerns throughout Malibu.”

Last night … Malibu’s city council took action.

If you call appointing a committee … action.

Actually … they agreed to appoint a committee … if you call that action.

No people were appointed … that was not on the agenda … so the actual appointing will come at a special meeting.

There remains a split on the city council … with at least two council members of the opinion that all Malibu needs to do … to enable the sheriff to run homeless persons out of Malibu … is offer them vouchers to stay outside of town.

Bruce Silverstein:


We don’t have homeless.

We have people who have come to Malibu that are homeless who have come to Malibu and taken camping residence on our public property … and in some people trespassing on their private property.

Maybe we got one two or three – and I don’t think so – people who have lost their homes who are Malibu residents who have lost at their homes and are living out on the street here.”

Silverstein wants a revised ordinance to come from this commission being set ip… make it harder to camp.

But other council members don’t exactly see it that way.

And federal courts have often ruled that cities cannot discriminate against people based on where they are from … rather they have to deal with people based on where they are.

That discussion was avoided by the city council last night … as it agreed to set up a commission to explore the issue.

And then … go on vacation … no substantive meetings for the next 4 weeks.

Meanwhile … the string of accidental fires and intentional arsons … on the mountains surrounding Malibu … grows to at least 10 this year.

The clearance of homeless encampments on Venice Beach … by the city of L-A … continues.

Santa Monica is working to make sure that the homeless persons cleared from encampments pitched along the Venice Boardwalk don’t relocate across the border in Santa Monica.

City leaders in Malibu say it’s fairly obvious that pressure in Venice will equal more people in Malibu … Tuna Canyon beware,

But the sheriff’s office is in charge on the homeless issue in Maliibu … in Tuna Canyon … which is outside city limits.

Squarely in the sheriff’s lap.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva … however … has diverted his special enforcement teams into areas outside his direct responsibility … areas like Venice and possibly soon … Santa Monica.

And the sheriff has said that his political spat with L A city officials has made it more difficult for his deputies to drop off homeless people … not matter where they come from …. at shelters in Los Angeles.

And while Malibu deputies continue their routine outreach and diversion efforts in Malibu,

And maybe soon … Santa Monica … where the sheriff is discussing sending deputies in to overlay the Santa Monica police efforts.

But the situation in Tuna Canyon is growing into what the city calls a crisis … a failure.


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