MALIBU CITY COUNCIL TO HOLD SPECIAL MEETING TO DISCUSS ALTERNATIVE SLEEPING LOCATIONS TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS IN THE COMMUNITY THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 6:00 PM
The Malibu City Council will hold a special virtual meeting on Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM to review and discuss the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) Recommended Action Plan provided by the City’s Homelessness Task Force (Task Force). The proposed Action Plan is part of the City’s effort to address homelessness, its impacts on the community, and the requirements of the 2019 Martin vs. Boise court ruling that prohibits the issuing of tickets or arresting homeless people for sleeping or camping on public property if there are no reasonably accessible shelter beds available as an alternative. Community members are encouraged to watch and share their input.
“Malibu is a compassionate community that has been dedicating significant resources toward services and outreach for people experiencing homelessness, but we must also find ways to reduce the very real threat of wildfires starting in homeless encampments in this Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone,” said Mayor Paul Grisanti. “We are one campfire away from another Woolsey Fire that could take lives and destroy homes in Malibu. An Alternative Sleeping Location may or may not be a solution, but we are obliged to consider it as a possibility, and I encourage everyone in the community to weigh in on this important matter.”
ASLs in other communities offer some combination of shelter beds, parking or tent accommodations for people experiencing homelessness, with security, lighting, and on-site staff that provide homeless services. Some also offer laundry, meals, showers, mail and other comprehensive services.
The staff report, viewing and commenting instructions are posted on the website at www.MalibuCity.org/VirtualMeeting. The meeting can also be viewed later on-demand at the same link. Community members can send written comments about the ASL proposal at any time to CityCouncil@MalibuCity.org.
The Task Force was established by the City Council in July 2021 with a charter that included reviewing and developing recommendations for the ASL concept, including needs and possible implementation in response to the growing homelessness concerns in the City. The Task Force then formed the Emergency and Temporary Services Ad Hoc Committee to investigate what would be required to establish an ASL and related costs, then report back to the full Task Force to develop a recommendation to the City Council on the feasibility of establishing an ASL within or around the City.
The Ad Hoc Committee has compiled its findings into an ASL Recommended Action Plan after reviewing publicly available information from many sources, having discussions with subject matter experts, and making site visits to existing ASL facilities in other communities. The ASL Recommended Action Plan was designed by Task Force as a guide to implement a primary, secondary, or tertiary plan.
The City has been considering an ASL as one option to offer a safe, secure alternative location for homeless people in Malibu to sleep and to allow the City to more actively remove homeless encampments in order to address the public health and safety threats posed by encampments. In 2021 alone, more than 20 brush fires started in homeless encampments.
Law enforcement agencies throughout California have struggled to enforce ordinances like Malibu’s anti-camping ordinance, citing the Martin vs. Boise court ruling. Having an Alternative Sleeping Location in or near Malibu may address the requirement for nearby shelter beds.
The City Council established a program in 2021 for reducing the risk of fires associated with unhoused people engaged in unpermitted and unregulated camping in City limits. City staff has been working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and their Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) to identify homeless encampments in Malibu; provide notification of the prohibition to the people residing in the encampments and provide connections to available resources; remove and clean the encampments; and ensure that Malibu remains free of homeless encampments while ensuring that these efforts do not criminalize people experiencing homelessness.
The entire City of Malibu is within territory designated by CAL FIRE as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ) based on its vegetation, steep hills and canyons and fire history, among other factors. Other factors such as extreme drought conditions and hot, dry Santa Ana winds appearing outside of traditional fire season make wildfire an ever more dangerous risk to the City, its residents, and its unhoused population. Malibu has experienced numerous wildfires that have destroyed many homes, threatened lives, and required massive evacuations in past decades. The 2018 Woolsey Fire was the largest in County history and burned nearly 100,000 acres, destroyed 500 homes in Malibu, and killed three people.
Learn more about the City’s efforts to address homelessness at www.MalibuCity.org/Homelessness.