Skip to main content

CEASE AND DESIST MALIBU TAKE DOWN “NO CAMPING” SIGNS

NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2007

The City Project has asked the California Coastal Commission to issue a cease and desist order to the City of Malibu to take down all signs purporting to prohibit camping in Malibu, including but not limited to the signs at the southern city limits on Pacific Coast Highway and on Malibu Canyon Road near Hughes Laboratories.

The Malibu local coastal plan permits camping. Malibu does not have the authority to prohibit camping. The signs must come down immediately. See City of Malibu Local Coastal Program Local Implementation Plan Table B Permitted Uses; LIP section 3.3M, 3.3F and 3.3F.1; Land Use Plan Policy 2.48.

The Coastal Commission ordered an end to phony “private property” and “no trespassing” signs in Malibu in June 2004. We demand that the Commission take action again to keep public lands in Malibu open for all.

In addition, on December 5, 2007, the Malibu City Council voted unanimously after a vitriolic public hearing to prohibit camping on public campgrounds. The Council claimed it was motivated by the fear of recent fires – but, first, that fire was not caused by campers. Second, no fire has ever been caused by campers at supervised camp grounds since records have been kept in 1910. Third, the “No Camping” signs at the city limits predate the recent fires. This demonstrates that Malibu simply seeks to keep people out who cannot afford to live in Malibu, or stay in Malibu’s high priced hotels, motels, and private campgrounds.

The acrimony in Malibu against public access to public lands is illustrated by videos of the December 5 hearing, which are posted on our website at Malibu Camping and Public Access Joe Edmiston of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy presents the Conservancy’s plan for camping and public access to public lands while Malibu residents boo.

The City Project’s Executive Director and Counsel Robert García called for equal access to public lands for all under state and federal laws. The mayor repeatedly calls for order while Malibu residents jeer and yell “Pay your taxes!”

Angela Mooney D’Arcy, Policy Director at The City Project, urges the Malibu city council to comply with state law and the letter of concern from the Native American Heritage Commission by engaging in respectful government to government consultation with Native American leaders before cutting off public access to public lands that may implicate Native American religious rights and freedoms. Residents try to drown her out. A city council member asks the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have the press here. Is this really how you want to present the image of Malibu to the public?” Residents respond with a resounding “Yes!”

A Malibu resident hurls an invective demanding that the city council cut off public access to public lands: “as God is my witness, I will recall every single person I can that votes the wrong way . . . . I grew up in Florida in a resort city. This looks like the most hellacious city I’ve ever seen in my life. You’ve told me, Barovsky, that you were going to clean up this, this illegal slave operation we have out in front of, of the city hall. We don’t even know if they’re illegal or not. We don’t know who could have been starting fires anywhere.” Reflecting a sense of entitlement and exclusivity that has repeatedly resulted in efforts to cut off public access to public lands, Malibu residents applauded this acerbic message — but tried to drown out the advocates for public access for all.

The City Project is eager to work with the Commission to maximize public access to public lands in Malibu while ensuring the fair treatment of people of all colors, cultures, and incomes under the local coastal plan, state and federal civil right and environmental laws and the public trust doctrine. See generally Robert Garcia and Erica Flores Baltodano, Free the Beach! Public Access, Equal Justice, and the California Coast, 2 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 177-93 (2005).

Please write to Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the Coastal Commission and ask for a cease and desist order to the City of Malibu to take down all signs purporting to prohibit camping in Malibu, including but not limited to the signs at the southern city limits on Pacific Coast Highway and on Malibu Canyon Road near Hughes Laboratories.

Peter Douglas, Executive Director
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street., Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 904-5200

pdouglas@coastal.ca.gov