Brushing Up on Malibu History

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The 59-page book, “Malibu, California” was developed with input from much of the local community.

It’s all happening in Malibu.

Between development plans and ballot measures, tattered piers, crowded highways, new restaurants and local hangouts, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information.  

With the latest edition of “Malibu, California: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” residents and visitors can find all they need to know about the beach town.

Rich Davis, president of the Malibu Coastal Vision Inc., hopes that this document can serve as a foundation for Malibu. Davis leads the Coastal Vision group, which was formed by the Malibu City Council in order to assess and document the history and growth of Malibu. 

“The main purpose of this book is to inform the public and to get them to have interest in their community and maybe start asking more questions,” Davis said. “There’s a lot going on in Malibu and regardless of where you stand, you should have a question.” 

And, after 59 pages, hopefully a direction to an answer.

In addition to serving as an intricate map of Malibu, the book includes extensive history of the town with statistics compiled by graduate students from Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. 

Focus groups and speaking engagements funded through the city helped publishers gain insight and direction from local residents.

“Most of the work was done by the good citizens of Malibu,” project director Robert Scott from the Mulholland Institute said. “We put together the material collected, did some surveys and people shared their thoughts and ideas. What could be done with Malibu to make it better … to keep it the same?”

Providing accurate information and data was an important aspect when the city decided to begin compiling the latest edition of the book.

“You talk to one person and you get one opinion,” Davis said. “You talk to another person and you get another opinion.”

Before the book was published, final sign-off went through the city and copies were sent to a review board made up of the City Council and city staff.

“It’s always better to involve more people and to have more public outreach,” Scott said. “You just want to get as many people involved and you want to hear from as many people as possible. My approach is an open door policy. You can never get enough input.”

Davis, a Malibu resident for more than 50 years, thinks many different problems could affect any resident, including installing underground utilities over a period of time, commercial developments, an overused PCH and the complexities associated with rebuilding a highway.

According to Davis, the book serves as a staple for defining Malibu and how the city by the beach will sustain its small-town charm in an ever-changing world.

Malibu Coastal Vision, Inc. hopes to release a new edition of the book every five years, but at least every 10 years to coincide with census information.

“I tend to fall in love with my projects,” Scott said. “This was one of those projects.” 

“I think Malibu has done a very good job of keeping itself unique and small,” Davis said. “Prices are very high, still that’s part of Malibu’s uniqueness. It’s as close to it was 30 years ago as you would wish. We’re not far away from what we were.”

Copies of the new edition are free and available at Malibu City Hall.