Susan Duenas: State Rules Eliminate Malibu Authority Over Roadblocks, Evacuations
Written by 991KBU on January 10, 2019
Malibu’s public safety director Susan Duenas has become a lightning rod of criticism … for the government response to the Malibu firestorm.
And last night’s meeting of the Public Safety Commission was her first public appearance in the aftermath.
And she presented a one hour report … a report that did not go over well with some in the audience.
But the report stated facts that many did not want to hear.
Such as …
– the city of Malibu has no role … none whatsoever … in establishing evacuation areas.
- under state law … Malibu could not tell the fire department or the sheriff to allow supplies or key people into Malibu after the fire.
- Malibu does not have a contract with the county fire department … and the fire department does not take commands from the city.
Duenas said her report was not offering excuses … but was a recital of the legal situation that the city finds itself in.
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“This is a disaster.
“I don’t see anything in here that says it was a pat on the back.
“This is a disaster.
“My only point of this report was to help you understand he confines of where the city has to operate legally.
Some Malibu residents in the audience were less than pleased.
Melanie Goudszwaard lost her house.
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“I don’t hear any accountability, I just hear an explanation of how things are supposed to work.
“And maybe you think it will work well, but it didn’t.
“One of the reasons I didn’t evacuate was because I had friends who were sitting on the highway in stuck traffic for hours.”
Local realtor Paul Grisanti says the city fell fall short of expectations … both in the evacuations and roadblocks …. and in the analysis of the fiasco.
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“There’s a lot of stuff that could have been done better, and I realize that it all wasn’t the city of Malibu’s fault.
“But this report makes it seem like everything went just like we planned it.
“And it didn’t.
“Everything didn’t go like we planned it.
“If that’s what we were planning for, and that was our best response, we need to imagine a better world.”
But Duenas said … in effect … that Malibu has to work within state law.
And the state law gives the fire department and sheriff all authority … two agencies that do not answer to the city of Malibu.
Duenas did say that Malibu … as a city that does not have its own police and fire departments …. seems to be left out of the loop in the state laws and regulations.
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“I think it can be tweaked, and that’s something that I have to work with the state on.
“But there is a whole state board that governs the Standardized Emergency Management System Plan.
“And what is an acceptable plan.
“Because if it’s not acceptable, we will not be eligible for state disaster assistance.”
Bottom line … even if Malibu had its own fire department or police department … those agencies would cease to be independent.
The city would have to follow orders from the county fire department and sheriff … the moment the county declares an emergency.