Does city want chains?

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The following was addressed to Michael Koss.

Thank you for your letter, dated April 1, 2005. You raise some interesting questions regarding chain stores. I write to give you some background on this matter and to give you the status of the chain store issue. Most importantly, I invite you and the entire Malibu community to help decide what solution is best for Malibu.

I believe we all want to keep Malibu, Malibu. Malibu is an incredible place where we live, learn, work, and raise our families. To that end, I have started to research how and whether Malibu should consider adopting an ordinance to prevent our city from looking like other “cookie-cutter’ communities where chain stores and formula restaurants run rampant.

Broadly defined, a “chain store” is a retail sales establishment or restaurant that is required by contract or other arrangement to maintain any of the following: standardized (“formula”) array of services and/or merchandise, trademark, logo, service mark, symbol, decor, architecture, layout, uniform, or similar standardized feature or food presentation format which causes it to be substantially identical to other stores regardless of ownership or location. Unique stores are the antithesis of chain stores.

Currently, 13 cities have adopted ordinances to preserve the unique character of their community. Some of these ordinances allow chains that have 11 or fewer stores without restriction, but once there are 12 identical stores, the store may be required to have unique signage, uniforms and to sell unique merchandise in a city that has an ordinance regarding formula stores. Still other ordinances ban formula stores and restaurants altogether.

The ordinances are as varied as each city. For example, Carmel by the Sea was the first town in the mid-1980s to ban all fast food, drive-in and formula food establishments regardless of the number of stores.

I value your input and the input from all of our community. I have met with the Malibu Business Roundtable and the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and its legislative committee to get feedback. Furthermore, a survey was sent to all Malibu Chamber members to get detailed input from their membership.

On March 14, 2005, the Malibu City Council voted to have staff engage a consultant to develop the Economic Element of the Malibu General Plan and report back to the City Council. I requested that the consultant and the Economic Study group consider whether a formula retail/restaurant ordinance is needed and/or wanted.

More input is needed before a Malibu chain store ordinance can be drafted. I encourage everyone in Malibu to discuss this issue and to participate in determining what type of ordinance our city needs and wants.

Pamela Conley Ulich