Sheriff’s deputies rushed to restore order Sunday among hundreds of jammed cars, with drivers inching along and vying to get into the Zuma Beach parking lot, as temperatures again soared in the San Fernando Valley.
Tempers flared at nearby intersections, where cars were seen splitting into multiple streams that all merged together in front of the three open entrance stations. Horns were blaring, and some impatient motorists burned rubber while at a standstill in the backup.
Video fed by Malibu radio station KBUU-FM showed multiple lines of vehicles converging at the gate, with nearly half the gates unstaffed and closed. Empty parking spaces were visible beyond the gates.
“They had better get some cops here to direct traffic, people are burning rubber in the line because they are getting pissed off,” said KBUU reporter Elena Corral.
Large clouds of burned rubber smoke issued into the sky at about 12:45 p.m., just before sheriff’s deputies from the Malibu-Lost Hills station arrived to prevent bad behavior.
Internet traffic services showed traffic backed up and moving on Pacific Coast Highway at 4 miles per hour for 20 miles, nearly to Pacific Palisades.
Lifeguards said the water had warmed up to 65 degrees at Zuma, but large waves kept most swimmers close to shore.
“We have lots of near-shore swimmers, so they are getting rolled around in the trench” of deeper water that sits between offshore sandbars and the beach, said Lifeguard Capt. Dan Murphy.
By 3 p.m. today, the Zuma parking lot had filled and Beaches and Harbors trucks blocked the access ramps from PCH. Murphy said the beach was packed.
Last Monday, a similar traffic backup occurred as the Valley roasted above 110 degrees, and cars overheated in Malibu as temperatures hit 100 degrees on PCH at Point Dume.
Malibu mayor Laura Rosenthal told KBUU Monday that it was “infuriating” that the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors only had two of the entrance pay stations open last week. Then, like today, the parking lot beyond was only half filled in the middle of the afternoon, but long lines blocked traffic in both directions on PCH.
Rosenthal said Malibu officials had been promised by the county Beaches and Harbors Department that the entrance stations would be fully staffed on hot weather days.
Beaches and Harbors officials told KBUU they would investigate. And in fact, on Tuesday all five lanes were staffed, but it was a cool and foggy day and beach use was light.
The county owns and operates Zuma Beach, and charges $14 per vehicle for entrance. Its close proximity and easy access to the hot San Fernando Valley, and huge parking lot, makes it one of the most-heavily used beaches in California.
–City News Service