Ruling Due on Communications for Malibu’s County Line Fire Station
• Improved Equipment Is Expected to Benefit the Coast
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
A decision by Ventura County Planning Director Kimberly Rodriguez is expected within 40 days after a hearing last Thursday on a radio communications setup for an as yet unopened new Fire Station 56 at west Malibu’s flank in the sliver of the 90265 zip code that is located under her jurisdiction.
Although the area that includes Yerba Buena and Deer Creek roads has little or no official interaction with the rest of Malibu, which is located in Los Angeles County, boundary lines blur when wildfire rages through heavily chaparraled areas of ranches and rural compounds.
The opening of Ventura County Fire Station 56 on Pacific Coast Highway is viewed as good news by many Los Angeles County Malibuites who remember wildfires that headed south and southeast from Ventura County to threaten homes as far west as Encinal and Decker canyons, such as the Greenmeadow Fire in 1993. Ventura County firefighters were on the front lines, assisting their Los Angeles counterparts to prevent that fire from meeting with the Topanga Fire on Malibu’s eastern flank.
Holding up the opening of the new station is a dispute over views of the communications setup at the location.
Faced with threats to stall the station and preclude it from having clear communications along the coast, the Ventura County Fire Department enlisted the aid of Motorola to conduct a study that would produce recommendations of minimum height and size to assure full range. The report recommends a 55-foot tower with a 20-foot whip and four eight-foot whips at the sides.
Motorola confirms the fire department contentions that equipment is necessary to improve coverage of the coast in areas where radio signals regularly drop out and to boost the relay from key equipment at Point Mugu.
Abbe Berns, the assistant director of fire services for the VCFD has presented the VCFD contention “that the proposed design is the best for the site and maximizes ability to alert, talk in and talk out and provides radio redundancy, which can be critical in an emergency, while being protective of the public safety channels.”
Kristin Roodson, the county planner on the project, told the Malibu Surfside News, “Both sides spoke at last week’s hearing and because it was a planning director level hearing, it is solely up to Rodriguez to make the decision that will determine the fire station’s opening.”