• Impasse Between Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Is Not a Solution •
Each and every Malibuite understands the fears of the local residents who packed Monday night’s meeting of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy on its Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Plan. Many of us have personally experienced what they have gone through. I have endured multiple evacuations of not only family members, but also horses, burros and llamas from corrals ringed with flames, in addition to the usual menageries of dogs, cats, geese, ducks and other critters during the last two decades. Every wildfire is a frightening and humbling experience. We all want to do everything we can to try to prevent having to go through it again, even though we know that likelihood is high.
No one should deride or wag fingers at residents concerned about wildfire, especially those who have lost their homes and cannot bear to think of that happening again. But neither can anyone expect to unreasonably obstruct public agencies from making lands paid for by the public available to that public. None of us want to be told we are trying to keep those whose taxes paid for the open spaces that make our own lives so special from opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation, especially in a faltering economy when these lands may be among the few joys still to be had. But it is also not unreasonable to insist that public holdings that are open to the public be adequately monitored, not just for the safety of those who live here, but for the safety of the visitors who venture out into these holdings.
Recently we saw how easy it is for lost hikers to remain lost, if they do not take the precaution of alerting others to their outdoor plans in advance. Tho
se hikers were in precarious circumstances until they were stumbled upon by accident. That is why the best locations for public facilities are those that are readily accessible in emergencies. It is not by chance that Leo Carrillo is one of the state’s most popular and safest campgrounds. It is located on the coast, close to a county fire station, patrolled by law enforcement and well staffed by rangers. Leo Carrillo draws families, boy and girl scout troops, and visitors from around the world. The camp registry is a living example of “we are the world.”
Instead of speaking past each other, as is too often the case, a committee of residents and city representatives might be formed that could meet with SMMC officials and explore options that address not only the very real fear of wildfire, but also the benefits to the public and to Malibu’s international image that could follow an agreement that results in more public campsites. If positive thinking doesn’t occur, the loggerheads will continue in meeting rooms, then progress to the courtroom, where the needs of the public will likely prevail unfettered.