When people experiencing homelessness take shelter in hillsides, it presents a very sensitive public safety issue. While these individuals should not be criminalized for conditions of poverty or mental illness that can lead to homelessness, illegal warming or cooking fires cannot be allowed as they endanger the individual and our community. With more than 21 miles of hillside to monitor in Malibu, everyone must play a part in reducing the threat.


If you see an encampment fire in the brush, always call 911 immediately. The Sheriff’s Department can cite individuals for starting illegal warming or cooking fires, and the Fire Department will extinguish the fire. If a homeless individual has been arrested or cited for any offense, Sheriff’s Deputies cannot prevent them from returning to Malibu once released from the court system.


Encampments on private property should be reported to the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station at 310-456-6652 or 818-878-1808. If you report an encampment on your property, Sheriff’s Deputies can cite them for trespassing and remove the individual(s). If you are reporting an encampment on someone else’s property, the Sheriff’s Department can identify the property owner, check for a Letter of Agency on file, and/or contact the property owner to see if they want them removed. Sheriff's Deputies cannot remove a homeless individual camping on private property if the property owner is not interested in having them removed, unless the individual is causing a disturbance or committing a crime.

Property owners may file a Letter of Agency, which permits the Sheriff's Department to remove trespassers from their private property. If your property is vacant or you do not live on your property full-time, the Letter of Agency empowers Deputies to remove trespassers when they are reported by someone else and Deputies are unable to contact you. For business owners, clearly posted “No Trespassing” signs also facilitate the timely removal of trespassing individuals.

Contact Luis Flores, Public Safety Liaison, with questions regarding encampments or how to file a Letter of Agency.


Encampments on public property can also be removed; however, specific protocols must be followed by both the pertinent municipality and law enforcement. Sometimes, this process can take up to two months. Before clearing any encampment, people experiencing homelessness must be given access to outreach services, and clear warnings must be posted noting the scheduled clean-up day. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) helps oversee this extensive process. 

These procedures help ensure two things: 

  1. People experiencing homelessness can connect with services and housing rather than just relocate to a new campsite. 
  2. The City and law enforcement are protected from liability, decreasing costs to the community resulting from litigation. 

If you are concerned about an encampment, City staff can provide information about any ongoing encampment clean-up operations.

Homeless individuals sleeping on public property cannot be cited for violating the City of Malibu’s ordinance (Municipal Code 9.08.090), which prohibits camping, lodging, or sleeping overnight in public parks, beaches, and streets if there is no alternative shelter available to the individual (Martin v. City of Boise). 

malibu municipal code section 8.28 (nuisance abatement)

The City of Malibu defines a nuisance as any condition of property that is injurious or potentially injurious to the public health, safety, or welfare of the community, as well as adjacent properties. Any accumulation or storage of trash, biohazards (including human waste), or articles of personal property on undeveloped or vacant land that creates, or creates the conditions for, a fire or safety hazard to nearby persons or properties, is a public health hazard and is therefore prohibited.

Property owners and other persons in lawful possession of any property, place, or area within the City boundaries shall, at his or her own expense, maintain the property, place, or area free from any nuisance.