PCH Task Force Discusses Street Racing, 100-mph Police Chases and Progress at Potrero Canyon Park

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Pacific Coast Highway has seen increased traffic during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The PCH Task Force, which meets every quarter, serves an important role by bringing together representatives from three state offices (Assembly, Senate three cities (L.A., Santa Monica and Malibu) and their law enforcement entities, plus the California Highway Patrol.

Task Force members are especially focused on activities and concerns related to the 10 miles of Pacific Coast Highway from the McClure Tunnel to the Malibu Pier.

Malibu Mayor Mikke Pierson, who spoke first at the March 3 meeting, said that speeding, people living along PCH and car clubs are an ongoing concern for his residents.

“There is no backup plan for traffic when there are power blackouts,” he said, noting that most of the emails that come to him from residents reflect their worries about safety along PCH.

The CHP spokesperson said that they are addressing accidents and street racing in the CHP’s two areas of jurisdiction on PCH: from Coastline to Malibu and from the northern Malibu city limits to the Ventura County line.

In October, November and December on the Coastline portion there were six traffic collisions: two involved injury and four were property damages. The causes of the accidents included unsafe turning, unsafe lane change, unsafe start and a DUI.

The biggest issue was street racing. In those three months, a task force of three to seven officers went out 10 different times. All together, they wrote 237 citations and gave 31 verbal warnings. Two motorists were arrested for reckless driving and one person was arrested for DUI.

“There is a disrespect for law enforcement,” the CHP spokesperson said, recalling that on December 13, during a task force outing, one of the units began pursuing a motorcycle, which crashed in the Zuma Beach area.

“The person evading the officers was arrested,” the spokesperson said, but this kind of brazen behavior takes a toll. “It requires four or five officers to do an investigation like this and can take four to five hours. It takes officers away from other patrols.”

He said that on the weekend of December 19-20, a sergeant stationed himself at Kanan and Mulholland to check on car clubs. In the short time he was there, he counted “29 different car clubs and 38 different groups,” the spokesperson said.

Another time, eight vehicles were clocked going 105 mph, near Decker on PCH, but “luckily officers were on site, gave citations and impounded vehicles.”

The L.A. County Sheriff’s representative gave the next report. “We have more people than ever coming to Malibu [during Covid]” he said, noting that they wrote 13,015 citations in 2020. “DUI is up 43 percent from the year before.”

He added that Sheriff deputies had special teams out to deal with the car clubs. “There were several arrests for high speed – some were over 100 mph.”

There were no law enforcement officers from Santa Monica or LAPD to present.

Caltrans spokesperson Abdolhossein Saghafi said that the McClure Tunnel project was moving forward with improvements and that he has been working with Councilman Mike Bonin’s transportation deputy Eric Bruins regarding the PCH/Entrada/Chautauqua corner to “make improvements.”

Saghafi said he was also working with L.A. City Engineer Pedro Garcia about the proposed Potrero Canyon Park pedestrian crossing over PCH. “It’s very costly and we are looking at alternatives.”

When finished, George Wolfberg Park at Potrero will stretch from the Palisades Recreation Center, down a hiking trail in the canyon and end at PCH, across from County Lifeguard headquarters.

Garcia told PCH Task Force members bids for landscaping the 46-acre park will go out next week. Planting is supposed to start in June and take about a year.

He said he was working with Saghafi on the encroachment process, which would provide a trail from Potrero to Temescal Canyon Road. A fence will be installed to discourage people from running across six lanes to reach the beach.

Garcia said a feasibility study had been completed and that the overcrossing was the most feasible, but that there was no funding available.

A pedestrian bridge is needed on PCH by Potrero Canyon, but there is no money left to build one.
Photo: George Wolfberg

The PCH Task Force was formed in 2000 by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, who is now an L.A. County Supervisor.

The quarterly meetings also include representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Richard Bloom and State Senators Ben Allen and Henry Stern.

Visit: Facebook Pacific Coast Highway Taskforce

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