One of my regular sources of amusement (and fury) comes from tuning in our Planning Commission telecasts.
I sympathize with Mr. Kearsley, I’d be “surly” too if I had to consult with the taste police every week. Ms. Kabrin and Ms. Ruggles amaze me with their colors and lights, walls, trees, slopes and size regulations. “A house that does not call attention to itself” is one of my personal favorites. In the 18 years that I’ve lived here I had always felt that Malibu was a nurturing place for eccentrics. No two homes looked the same (except for Malibu West). Each neighborhood had something for everyone — mansions and rundown-rural shared the same block. The only rules were safety based. But now that our commissioners’ definitions of “excess” has been empowered by their permitting process. Malibu no longer tolerates diversity of architectural expression. I believe bad taste is not an absolute negative, neither is ostentation. We Malibuites can cheerfully accept run-down houses, dead lawns, rickety barns, hen houses, and half-pipes, and all manner of trailers and boats on the streets. However a visible $5,000,000 home and a new high wall become an intolerable offense to our taste police commissioners, their “neighborhood preservationist” backers and their co-potentates on the City Council. It smells like reverse snobbery to me or a reactionary “keep out the new money” theme. The Planning Commission overwhelmingly interferes with property rights and freedom of expression in its oversight of the hillside ordinances. Please don’t define excess for your permittees. Remember the First Amendment? When someone’s home screams, “Look at me!” I’m amused, not offended. I applaud Mr. Kearsley and I’d vote for him. I’ll also vote against whomever appointed Ms. Kabrin and Ms. Ruggles the dictators of building. I realize Malibu is not the same as it was 40 years ago. For many of us it’s much more interesting and diverse. Here’s a suggestion — a reasonable motto for the ideal Planning Commission: “You bring just as much sorrow into the world when you take offence as when you give offense.” Think about it.