KBUU Newswire Thu Nov 15: Caltrans Accused Of Murder – Relatives Attack Agency For Years Of Inaction – State Promises Action To Reduce Speeds – Caltrans Official Says Malibu Should Take Over Highway And Convert It To Boulevard

Written by on November 15, 2023

Traffic jammed … repaving underway … PCH at Zumirez … both directions tied up.

Caltrans says they will work within the law to reduce speed  on PCH.

But the state agency says they cannot promise lower speed limits.

Anguished loved ones 

Showers and gusty winds approach malibu .. as a big Pacific storms splits in half .. veryy strange.

Rain chances will increase again between Friday and Saturday. 


Caltrans was accused of murder last night … on a street corner … as traffic roared by on

Pacific Coast Highway.


“So, who do we charge with murder when it’s not an action that is killing dozens, but an interaction? An inaction by Caltrans, and its unwillingness to do what’s right for this community. 

“Despite having the tools for making PCH safety, and the legal authority to slow it down, Caltrans has failed to take affect effective action to fix PCH. 


“Maybe it won’t hold up in the court of law, but I call it murder. So yes, we lost its beautiful souls to a murder that’s been on the loose for a decade, a murder, who doesn’t even have to hide, a murderer right in front of our eyes.

“We lost them to the actions of Caltrans failing to make a change.”

Bridget Thompson lost her sister one month ago … one of four Pepperdine students killed in a speeding car versus pedestrian crash.

She was one of many people from Pepperdine and Malibu yesterday … politely furious that the State of California operates a tool of death and injury in the heart of a seaside city. 

Earlier in the day … two Caltrans safety officials said … don’t expect the agency to take any immediate steps … to reduce speed on Malibu’s main street.

Yesterday saw a meeting of the PCH Safety Task Force in the morning … and a ceremony at a busy street corner at night. 

The ceremony was a cry of anguish and anger.

Barry Stewart … a Florida resident who lost his daughter on Malibu’s main street last month…

He’s become intimately familiar with this embearassment.


“Eight years ago, California launched a pedestrian safety group and started road safety here and issued a report with 130 recommendations for how to improve traffic safety on PCH in Malibu.

“Eight years ago. Caltrans is responsible for PECH in Malibu. What else has Caltrans been doing for the past eight years that is more important than stopping people from being killed at the rate of one every 2.7 months on a short stretch of road?

“This morning I learned that 11 of those 130 recommendations have been implemented, and for those keeping score that’s one implementation on average every 8.7 months.”

Another father … David Ralston … lost his 20 year old daughter Niamh in last month’s crash.

He is from Philadelphia … where the city has installed pedestrian safety improvements…. Bicycle safety improvements … part of a plan called Vision Zero.  


“Mr. Molina from Caltrans said ‘oh, but we have a vision zero program as well.’

“Well what’s the difference? Philadelphia already did these things. 

“What are you doing here in Malibu? What are you doing on PCH, Caltrans? 

“I heard a lot of reasons why it couldn’t do things. It’s not good enough. 

“I’m sorry to all the people in Malibu that have been working on this. My gosh, to meet someone like Michel Shane, who I believe is gonna be talking in a minute, and to know what he went through and that he did what he could.

“And all these other peoplepeople in Malibu that I heard her been speaking, who have been worried on this, literally for decades, literally more than 20 years been working on this for tried to try to make it better. 

“It didn’t save his daughter .

“He tried to save my daughter and her three friends and my daughter and her three friends died. 

“And it’s just incomprehensible to me that nothing has been done here to save my daughters life.

“Please let’s have my daughter and her beautiful friends be the last people. 

“I don’t want to be like Michel Shane looking at this, like two years from now when there is a news story that several other more people have their families destroyed by something like this – that their families who have lost their children.” 

The ceremony was sad and somber. 

Sorority sisters and other fellow students buried the four ghost tires in the dirt … on the vacant lot next to where the Christmas Baby Jesus celebration is coming up next month. 

It’s been hard on the students. 

Niamh Ralston,. Peyton Stewart, Desilyn Williams and Asha Weir were members of Alpha Phi.

Coco Crandall is presidnet of the Alpha Phi sorority.


“We are all feeling very sad and honestly a little exhausted.

“The four girls that we lost were like the biggest role models and influences in our chapter so not having them there has been a big gap that we’re not going to be able to fill.

“So it’s been really hard for all of us to navigate through this, but we all feel very lucky that we still have each other to depend on and be together.”

Earlier in the day … at the PCH Safety Task Force meeting … Caltrans officials came under heavy fire.

But after decades of inaction … it is apparent that the state agency is moving at what can only be described as lightning speed. 

A long list of immediate changes… and long term changes.

More speed limit signs … and numbers painted in the traffic lanes.

Striping changes … to make the edge of the road more visible at night.

And there big one … expect changes in the speed limit … for the first time since 1938  … Caltrans says they want to lower the 45 mile an hour speed limit in eastern Malibu.

Lee Haber is the Caltrans safety officer in Los Angeles … says data is being collected this week … to try to lower the speed limit.


“We’re going to be utilizing the data and examining the current laws and regulations for speed limit setting, to see what we can do. And efforts we can do to undertake to make sure we can address the speed limit in this area. 

“Our goal is to reduce the speed limit in this area, but we do have to work with the process and with the 85th percentile.”

In other words … Caltrans still maintains it cannot lower the speed limit below the speed at which 85 percent of the cars are traveling.

But this law has been changed … and dangerous local conditions can be factored in to reduce a speed limit lower than that magic 85th percentile. 

The Caltrans officials acknowledged that.

Judging from their comments yesterday … it looks like Caltrans sincerely wants to lower the speed limits. 

The question is … when.

KBUU posed that exact question to Rafael Molina … the head of operations for Caltrans in LA: what date will we see a decision made about lowering the speed limit ???


REPORTER: “Hi, my name is Hans Laetz, I am with KBUU radio in Malibu.

“Mr. Molina, what date can we expect Caltrans to make a decision to lower Pacific coast Highway’s speed limits? When is the date we can expect a decision to be made?

CALTRANS BOSS: “Sir, with regards to that chairman, as we mentioned earlier, we are conducting a valuations right now as to the speed. This really isn’t a choice that Caltrans under takes unilaterally. There are guidelines and restrictions as to how speed limits are set and lowered or raised for that matter in California. So it’s something that we can simply just do on our own analysis we have to abide by the law.

REPORTER:  “Follow up question: if the City of Malibu just goes out and puts up it’s own speed limit signs, would Caltrans sue the city? 

CALTRANS BOSS: ” I can’t speak to that that’s out of my jurisdiction with regards as that being a legal consideration or not, I’m not trying to be cute with that.”

THIRD VOICE, INTERJECTING: “I can tell you that if you pull up a speed limit that’s not justified it cannot be enforced by law-enforcement.”

That third voice was state assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin … 

And as the state assemblywoman said … the harsh reality is … Caltrans has to follow the law. And California state laws favor the highest speed possible … to move the most people.  

Small city speed traps were outlawed in the 1940s.

Caltrans originally said it supported reducing the speed limits … but then the official backed off. 

At the PCH Task Force meeting … Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring picked up on that.


“”You seem Caltrans today I mean with you started off saying we were going to aggressively go do something to lower speed limits, but the last comment that I heard from the other side of the tables that we really have to deal with all the other laws, and all the other stuff, and it may not be as quickly as we want it to be.”

And after the meeting, the Caltrans officials approached the KBUU reporter to say what the ultimate answer might be. 

Right now … PCH is a state highway … not a city street. 

It does not have to be that way.

Malibu could take over PCH from the state … it’s called relinquishment.

The state legislture could vote to relinquish control of the highway to the City of Malibu … and divert the money that Caltrans spends on the highway to local city council control;.

That removes the requirement to accommodate state highway traffic.

Santa Monica has done that.

Oxnard has done that. 

Malibu has been afraid to. 

So …  for now … you will see the four ghost tires planted in the dirt at Webb Way … soon to be joined by others for  a total of 58 ghost tires … one for every person killed on the road in the past 13 years. 

And the last word on this today goes to Barry Stewart … Payton Stewart’s dad.


“Citizens of Malibu, I beg of you: pressure your elected officials to change the laws to fix PCH.


Thunderstorms Possible This Afternoon In Malibu

A line of thunderstorms is developing between 400 and 600 miles south of Santa Barbara this morning … and they are heading this way.

In fact … the big swirling storm that has bene forming ion the North Pacific has split in half … into two twirling balls of rain.

And this storm is behaving unusually in other ways … too.

Lots of instability and directional wind shears … shear, there is certainly some concern of isolated waterspouts developing.

Rainfall amounts through tomorrow morning will stay around 0.25 to 0.50 inch across coastal and valley areas … maybe a little more along the Malibu mountains. 

A little sun on Thursday … but The second piece of the storm system will start to move in on Friday.

How much rain from that one?

Too early to tell.

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