From the Publisher: LA Heavy Hitters

Arnold G. York

A list of 500 of the most influential people in Los Angeles put out annually by the Los Angeles Business Journal included many Malibu people who live here, weekend here or have had some deep involvement with our community. The list includes: Rick Caruso, Andy Benton, Marc Stern, John Paul DeJoria, Richard Weintraub, Steve Soboroff, Larry Ellison, Brian Grazer, Ron Meyer, Stan Kronke, Haim Saban, Richard Riordan, Marshall Grossman, Zev Yaroslavsky, Sheila Kuehl, Gray, Dr. Dre, Donald and Shelly Sterling, and many others from the worlds of business, finance, show business, sports, real estate, facilitators, public affairs and such. A Malibu connection is seemingly one of those essential steps on the path to being the most influential.

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Just in case you were thinking about throwing your hat into the ring next time and running for city council, there is a new book out by Kit Bobko, former Hermosa Beach mayor and city council member. After seven-and-a-half years of service, Bobko left and wrote the book “Nine Secrets for Getting Elected,” which has been described as sort of “House of Cards” meets “Parks and Recreation” and is available on Amazon in digital or print. It covers the who, why and wherefores of running and serving in office and apparently, I’ve been told, is a good read. 

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Measure R, or what has become known as the Whole Foods Measure, is on its way to the California Supreme Court after the appeals court turned down the city’s appeal. We should know shortly whether the Supreme Court accepts the case or decides to pass. If it passes on the case, the stay, which stopped any construction, will probably be lifted and chances are developers will break ground as soon as possible. Several people have asked me why the measure is still alive, despite an election and a city vote against the project. The only way to explain it is to say there are certain things that the voters simply don’t get to decide (the majority doesn’t always win). The rules that govern what the voters can and cannot decide are set down in our state and federal constitutions but those rules are subject to interpretation and that’s the job of the courts. Then some ask why anyone would develop something when there doesn’t seem to be a great demand for additional space presently. The answer is that developing anything is a long-term project, easily five to 10 years these days and often more. There is also a shortage of good properties in locations that are desirable; Malibu is considered a desirable location for both commercial and residential property. 

Also, in a very strange way, the prevailing “no growth” attitude, which pretty much exists up and down the entire coast of California, is a real estate developer’s dream. It artificially creates a shortage, limiting supply so all of the existing inventory is worth more. That’s why you see people renovating old houses and old shopping centers. The problem is that on the residential side we are not producing anywhere near enough housing units to keep up with population growth, particularly in the coastal zone, and the old housing stock is getting pushed up into higher and higher rentals. In Venice, for example, rents are sky-high because of the growth of Silicon Beach. Apartment rental fees are now so high that a third of millennials have moved back to live at home with their parents. 

To change that, we’d have to change the rules, permit more density, allow and encourage granny units in the R-1 zones, and improve public transportation. It may come to that because the governor and legislature are beginning to recognize we are in a housing crisis and young people are moving out of LA because they don’t make enough money to live here. Part of the reason for all of the downtown development is that there is a lot of old housing and commercial space that can be converted, renovated and built out. There is also not the same resistance to development in downtown like there is on the west side and the suburbs so it’s become a very hot area for new housing. The state is going into crisis mode in housing and there is a big residential building push coming. Don’t be surprised if the legislature begins to cut back on local government’s land-use controls.