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Scott Steepleton, Editor
2:49 pm PDT June 30, 2021

From helping residents deal with planned power outages to ensuring firefighting resources are in place to providing grants for tree removal, the city of Malibu is ready for what could be a potentially fire-heavy rest of the year.

The first part of the year has already seen unseasonably dry, hot and windy conditions — this coinciding with persistent drought.

“Every small brush fire should be a reminder that the next big wildfire is just around the corner, not just in peak wildfire season,” said Mayor Paul Grisanti in a statement. “It is up to us all as individuals and as a community to do everything possible to harden our homes, make emergency plans, gather emergency supplies and get CERT trained.”

City officials say the Los Angeles County Fire Department is deploying additional resources in the Malibu area. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is also part of the ongoing discussion of “fire conditions, community concerns, deployment levels in response to wildfire threat factors such as hot, dry, windy weather, fuel moisture levels and Santa Ana winds.”

Malibu’s new Hazard Tree Removal Program helps residents with dead and dying hazard trees remove them free of charge later in the summer. The program is funded by a $324,000 wildfire prevention grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. In addition, the city is planning community chipper and green waste days in September to provide residents an opportunity to dispose of large amounts of fire-hazardous vegetation, including dead vegetation from brush clearance that was required to be complete by June 1.”

Sign-ups, schedules and all other information will be posted at malibucity.org/firesafety as soon as it is available.

With most recent fires in the area having started in homeless encampments on undeveloped private property, city public safety staff are working to acquire so-called Letters of Agency from the owners of these properties. Here’s how they work: With a Letter of Agency, the Sheriff’s Department can remove trespassers. To reduce the likelihood of people returning to someone else’s land, city staff is also working with property owners to have items left behind removed.

Meanwhile, changes to the city’s nuisance code are aimed at strengthening Malibu’s ability “to have owners keep their undeveloped property clear of encampments.”

As for Southern California Edison’s public safety power shut offs — where the utility turns off power to sections of town as a hedge against SCE equipment starting a fire — the city opposes the policy, according to a statement, “and has developed plans to respond when SCE announces that it may implement a PSPS due to dangerous fire conditions. The city’s PSPS plans include putting out emergency and utility alerts, providing power outage preparedness information to residents on the city’s website, activating the Emergency Operations Center to monitor conditions, and implementing the city’s Zero Power Plan.

Key provisions of the plan include:

  • Setting up emergency information stations across the city where printed information can be posted;

  • Deploying changeable message signs;

  • Broadcasting emergency information KBUU 99.1 FM, Malibu’s only local radio station;

  • Putting emergency information on the city’s Traffic and Emergency hotline;

  • Outfitting city vehicles with loudspeakers and flashing lights for staff and CERT Team volunteers to use to assist with evacuations when communications are down.

Learn more at malibucity.org/psps.

SCE is working with the city to open a community resource center at the Michael Landon Center at Bluffs Park to provide support to residents during a prolonged power outage. Residents will be able to use the center to charge their phones and get updates and other support from SCE.

In the event of “resident only” road closures, the city’s Dolphin Decal helps residents get through restricted areas to their homes. For more information, or to request a Dolphin Decal, go to malibucity.org/229/dolphin-decal-access-program or call 310-456-2489.