Malibu to Possibly Cancel White Heart's Ride to the Flags Motorcycle Rally
Since we started the Ride to the Flags in 2008, our relationship with the City of Malibu has been contentious at times, but ultimately, everything worked out. The amount of meetings and figurative tug-o-war we have experienced is something expected in a city that tries stay detached from the busyness of Los Angeles and downplay its appeal for festivities.
However, the contention graduated last month when I was asked to attend a meeting with the Malibu City Manager. The City Manager asked me if I could “just do this somewhere else.” To which I replied that I would not.
While normally we try to keep these issues in-house so that our participants don't have to witness how the sausage is made, this issue has escalated past that.
In 2006, when I first got the idea to build the Wave of Flags display at Pepperdine, I had the notion of coupling it with a proactive event to raise funds for those who have been injured serving in our military ever since.
It has worked.
We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for our nation’s warriors.
We have made – and are making – a huge difference.
Motorcycles and patriotism go hand-in-hand.
The Ride to the Flags and the Wave of Flags go hand-in-hand.
But, you see…when the Ride to the Flags rolls through town on that September Sunday morning, some vehicles have to wait for seven…eight…maybe even nine minutes at a stoplight – and, well, that makes some curmudgeons, curmudgeonier.
“I get phone calls,” exclaimed both the City Manager and the Sheriff, who was also present.
That’s right. Phone calls.
The event has cumulatively raised thousands for the welfare support groups at the Naval Base Ventura County as well as helped some amazing heroes get the rehabilitation and equipment they need. We’ve dealt with so many obstacles over the years organizing this ride, but now we face our biggest test yet: curmudgeons with speed dial.
I explained to the City Manager and Sheriff that unequivocally, the safest and most efficient way to move hundreds of motorcycles from point A to point B, without incident, is to utilize the rolling closure technique.
The foundation is absolutely unwavering on this component.
Not because our intentions are malicious, but rather, they are the diligent accumulation of knowledge and vast experience of the foundation’s organizers and participants. We have acquired the expertise on the safest way to operate a procession of this type and simply will not accept a more dangerous alternative for our participants.
Interestingly, the LASD knows this is as they organize charity motorcycle rides of their own that shut down plenty of main roads and highways (including the 405 and 101) throughout busy Los Angeles mid-weekend days.
It would stand to reason that if the LASD truly believed a “rules of the road” ride was a much-safer alternative, they would have opted to do just that.
The fact remains that mixing hundreds of motorcycles with vehicles is not only dangerous but given the apprehension that drivers often feel around just a small group of motorcycles, adding hundreds to the mix would have disastrous effects on PCH for much longer than the foundation’s proposed rolling holds.
This is where we will not budge.
On August 4th, our office received an email from the city informing us that the Ride to the Flags X would be brought to City Council for a vote on Monday, August 14th. Attached to that email was a seven-page document full of disingenuous claims and complaints about the rally.
That is when this issue escalated once more.
Not only is the ride being called into question, but now, the integrity of the foundation is, as well. Now we are thrust into having to play politics. Just weeks before the event is supposed to take place, nonetheless. Today we issued a response to the city’s findings correcting their embellishments against the Ride to the Flags.
This is where we need your help.
On Monday, August 14th beginning at 5pm, the City Council will meet to determine the fate of the Ride to the Flags rally (the memorial event at the naval base and the ride, itself, will still happen, regardless).
This is where I call on you – all of the great people who have participated in this ride and who have supported this event over the past decade - to join us at city hall and support this event that you know has done so much good for our warriors.
We need principled people to do the right thing.
Our rally hangs in the balance.
We need you. I need you. Our warriors need you. Our beneficiary, Cpl. Zac Gore, needs you.
Monday, August 14th. 5pm
Malibu City Hall
23825 Stuart Ranch Road.
Malibu, CA 90265
For those of you who cannot make it, I urge you to show your support to the City Council via phone or email. (A phone call is more effective than an email. Take it from the seasoned curmudgeons).
Please note – the council members have yet to form a solid opinion on what they are hearing from the city manager.
They’ve done nothing wrong. (Yet) ;)
Let them know how much this event means to you.
Thanks for all of the years of support.
Let's do this.
- Ryan Sawtelle
Mayor Skylar Peak
Lou La Monte
Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner