I feel it’s necessary to speak up because part of the problem with Malibu is that if you go against the powers that be, you are pilloried by the economic power base in Malibu. You cannot expect anything but the destruction of Malibu if you are unwilling to fight to save what is left. Not a smart move on my part…
What was Malibu in 1972 when I moved here permanently and what was the north shore in 1975 when I bought a house on Sunset Point? To put in a phrase that appeared on almost every license plate frame in the 1970s it was “Malibu a Way of Life.” People in Malibu at that time were here to escape the city, enjoy the beauty, surf, and keep out of everybody’s business. Friendly, but self sufficient. The movie stars who lived here were locals who wanted to be left alone and the rest of us were mostly middle class. Pickup trucks and wagons were the cars to have and flashy cars were hardly ever seen. Paparazzi were unwelcomed and rare. If one showed up at LaScala, they were immediately thrown out. Malibu was actually rural with quite a few empty lots, few fences, and many horses.
The north shore was very similar. It had poor access, as does Malibu, and although it had no movie stars, it was the center of the surf world. It was rural and mostly funky like Malibu was in the 70’s. I always looked at the north shore as Malibu only ten years behind. Although the north shore is changing rapidly with the west coast California rich buying up the shoreline for second houses, Airbnb is eating up all the cheap places to live and shopping centers are being built in Haleiwa, but there is still a very vocal local culture that is much more powerful than what is left of Malibu culture. On the north shore you better get the locals to buy in to build a commercial building or it will not happen. Sadly that is gone in Malibu.
What killed the Malibu way of Life ?
In 1973 Pepperdine started up as a institution that added a large population center in the middle of Malibu that had no real connection with the local population and values.
In 1974 the Coastal Commission started and that added regulation and costs that the old locals had to deal with to remain.
On March 30,2000 Harry Barovsky Mayor of Malibu died and the city council appointed his wife Sharon Barovsky to the council without input from the citizens. This one move cemented the power of a pro development group that valued economic development over the Malibu way of life. From that point on, greed was the driving force and the uniqueness of Malibu was doomed. Pro development was the name of the game and a powerful group used political power the way it was used in the big city. It became cool to be flashy when Paris Hilton hit town with the Paparazzi and her party house. The founders of the city and the old time Malibu locals who fought valiantly to save Malibu were crushed.
Between 2000 and now, the old time locals and environmentalists fought valiantly to save Malibu. They were forced to go to the ballot with initiatives which were mostly successful, but the pro development interests always had a city council that could be counted on to disregard what the locals wanted. More and more houses became second homes, more and more shopping centers were proposed and approved, and more and more violations of the codes enacted to protect Malibu were ignored. Most of all, more and more residents of Malibu are here to make a buck and flip houses or promote the “brand” that no longer exists except in middle Americans’ minds…
Today that fight continues and the forces that want to stop the destruction won a major election showing that the citizens of Malibu want Malibu back. The question of whether that can be accomplished is still open, as is the question of how many councilmembers actually buy into slow growth.
Will they ban AirBnB? Will they save open space?
Will they straighten out the mess that is our Civic Center? Will the parking problem be solved? Who knows. The North Shore still has a chance because the locals there actually care enough to get out the pitchforks. The question is will they be bought off by the forces of development?
So what killed the Malibu way of life?
It’s a complicated question but then again, Malibu is unique and deserves a not so simple answer.