In 1971 the California Department of Highways issued a report that recommended the expansion of the Pacific Coast Highway in lieu of the freeway system planned to serve the coastline between Malibu and Santa Monica. It was recognized then that the recreational use of the Malibu beaches had taxed the capacity of Pacific Coast Highway to its utmost and that further development of any type would only make matters worse for the highway.
During the period 1973 to 1975 every effort to implement the proposed Pacific Coast Highway expansion and improvement program was frustrated and thwarted by the regional commission of the California Coastal Commission on the premise that such expansion would be growth-inducing to Malibu. Regardless of the commission's action Malibu still grew, although on a poorly planned piecemeal basis; but so did the West Valley grow, causing a heavier level of external loading of the highway extending the critical peak period from the weekends to the weekdays, which had not heretofore been a problem.
Worse yet, beach properties between Topanga Canyon and Las Flores Canyon roads, which would both widen the highway right of way and provide beaches and public parking, increased in value from $50,000 to $100,000 in 1972, to $200,000 to $1 million in 1985, making acquisition for such purposes unaffordable.
The problems that exist today on Pacific Coast Highway were all predictable and their present magnitude is a result of years of planning failure on the part of the Coastal Commission, which refused to cope with reality.
Sen. Hart's endorsement of the commission's action is disappointing to me. The 17-point program the commission adopted renders the map useless and the plan unmanageable; further the commission's action lacks propriety and wisdom.
RICHARD D. IDLER