MALIBU — There are over 90 existing conditions targeted as potential safety concerns along Pacific Coast Highway that the city of Malibu should address, according to a months-long, $375,000 engineering study of Malibu’s 27 miles of PCH.
While some of the possible safety issues were “pervasive,” meaning they occur along the entire corridor of PCH in Malibu, other problems were location-specific. Areas of particular concern included the intersections of Las Flores Canyon Road, the Malibu Pier and Paradise Cove Road, among others. The study examined safety from the perspective of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians on PCH.
Anthony Petros of LSA Associates, Inc., an Irvine-based consultant which conducted the study and gave presentations on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Malibu, said the results of the study are not meant to sit on someone’s desk.
“This is meant to be an actionable effort so that real problems are addressed and measurable change is made,” he said.
Some of the problems identified by the study are already being fixed. California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is currently widening the shoulder along certain portions of PCH by cutting back overgrown vegetation, and a 1,000-foot parking restriction on either side of Paradise Cove is in the works.
One consistent safety issue cited by the study was conflicting uses of the road shoulder, with garbage cans, trash collection, valet parking and regular parking sometimes competing for the same space. Other issues were non-uniform signage and striping, high speeds and drivers slowing down to look for shoulder parking.
PCH was divided into three study areas for the purposes of the report, each having unique safety problems. Area 1, from Topanga to Cross Creek, has a number of homes with vehicles that back out of garages directly onto PCH. Left turns at the Las Flores and Big Rock intersections are problematic, as well as pedestrian crosswalks at La Costa and other locations.
Study Area 2, which covers Cross Creek Road to Busch Drive, was found to be affected by traffic congestion from Cross Creek Road to Malibu Canyon, vehicles slowing down to turn onto Latigo Canyon Road, shoulder parking and pedestrians near Paradise Cove and Winding Way. The unusual geometry of the three-way intersection of Westward Beach, Bonsall Canyon and Busch Drive, which also includes a bus stop, causes conflicts between vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Study Area 3 goes from Busch Drive to the Ventura County line. The study notes there is no right-hand turn lane at Morning View Drive, a high-traffic area leading back to Malibu High, Malibu Middle and Juan Cabrillo Elementary schools. Several conditions conspire to make the area extremely dangerous for people parking on the north side of PCH to run across the highway to the beach.
Residents expressed additional concerns about bicycle safety, pedestrian crosswalks, pedestrian safety in front of Duke’s Restaurant and Malibu Seafood, parking at the commercial area between Rambla Vista and Rambla Pacifico and whether the study recommendations will become part of city planning’s approval process.
Petros confirmed the city is working with Caltrans to utilize an existing underpass at Malibu Seafood for pedestrians to cross PCH. “We’ll be seeing Caltrans to get that cleaned out and useable,” he said.
When asked if speed enforcement was adequate, Elizabeth Shavelson, project manager with the city’s public works department replied, “Our sheriffs have some of the highest ticketing rates in the state.”
The project is expected to wrap up this fall after priorities and funding are identified.
The PCH study, mostly paid for with federal government grants, is being jointly conducted by the city of Malibu and the Southern California Association of Governments.
The Draft Safety Assessment Report can be found on Malibu City Hall’s website at www.malibucity.org/download/ index.cfm/fuseaction/download/cid/20470/.
This article first appeared in the Malibu Times.