The Malibu local coastal plan permits camping — yet in December 2007 the Malibu City Council voted unanimously after a vitriolic public hearing to prohibit camping on public campgrounds and cut off public access to Ramirez Canyon. The Council claimed it was motivated by fear of recent fires — but no fire has ever been caused by campers at supervised camp grounds since records have been kept in 1910. And illegal “No Camping” signs greet vistors at the city limits. The signs predating the fires show Malibu simply seeks to keep people out who cannot afford to live there or stay in high priced hotels and motels.
In YouTube videos, Joe Edmiston of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy presents the Conservancy’s plan for camping and public access to public lands in Malibu at the City Council hearing on December 5, 2007, while Malibu residents boo and hoot.
The City Project’s Executive Director and Counsel Robert Garcia calls for Malibu to provide equal access to public lands for all under state and federal laws. The Malibu 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 out her presentation with howling and stomping. 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, Malibu residents applauded this acerbic message, but tried to drown out advocates who spoke up for public access for all.
The matter is on the way to the Coastal Commission.