Malibu Summer 2018 – Traffic, Crowds and Short Tempers

As a new summer begins in Malibu, the changes to the local scene are now more evident than ever. There’s very little in the way of positive improvement in the area unless you’re a real estate developer or someone who really likes sitting in traffic while waiting to get to the beach. In the 25 years I’ve lived here, there’s been a slow but steady increase in the flow of traffic along PCH. The highway has always been an alternate link between Ventura and Los Angeles counties and as the population of both continues to swell, commuters inevitably look to alternatives. My morning commute between the Point Dume area and Santa Monica, once a 30 minute breeze over the 21 mile drive, now takes a full hour, and that’s if I leave the house at 6:00 AM. I only expect it to get worse. Add in the near constant highway improvements and occasional complete closure of the highway and it’s often easier to just leave well before sunrise.

Another factor adding to the deterioration of the area is tourism. I’m not referring to visiting groups from distant lands wanting to check out the famous beaches, but what many call the “meet up” crowds: social media-led groups of like-minded individuals who gather for coffee, day hikes, or full day beach outings. Malibu has, for want of a better term, become a “destination resort.” While this may strike you as simple NIMBYism, it’s a legitimate complaint for residents who recall being able to shop at the local markets without fighting for a parking space. I have great sympathy for canyon dwellers who now must contend with small armies of hikers and mountain bikers charging through their properties and parking on their tiny one-lane roads.

I guess I’ve had a slow shift in my attitude towards crowds. While I was once a democratic altruist, lately I’ve come to resent the omnipresent density in my once sleepy little berg. The beaches are for everyone. (No one, not even the loftiest of millionaires, owns the beach in front of their homes.) Unfortunately, the infrastructure to support “everyone” is stressed to the point of breaking, so the cycle to improve, expand and extend traffic lanes, parking lots and public facilities continues but at a pace lagging far behind the growing need. There is a limit to how many lanes and parking spaces can be added to a finite coastal zone and Malibu has exceeded it.

But it’s a sunny warm and beautiful day here in mid June. I might as well go out and wade through the crowds to find my spot on the beach.

Leave a Reply