Beach bashes out of control, or quiet affairs?

Councilmember Andy Stern

Companies that rent Malibu beach homes for parties say they’re respecting neighbors and enhance the Malibu lifestyle. City officials disagree.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

Are they private, elegant-and quiet-events, hosted for exclusive celebrity clients, or out-of-control corporate-sponsored beach parties?

It depends on one’s point of view and Malibu City Council members are determined their view will prevail in the future.

Some high-profile homes located on Malibu’s famous beaches were the site of corporately subsidized parties this summer, which were either a source of continual irritation for local residents, according to civic leaders, or an opportunity to “raise the profile of Malibu’s commercial interests,” according to the publicity managers for the public relations companies that rented the homes for the summer.

Jessica Meisel’s firm, Fingerprint Communications, rented Malibu homeowner John Garcia’s house on Malibu Road, dubbed the Polaroid House for the company’s clients and principals who partied there this summer, and denies that client activity was a nuisance.

“We never even had a policeman stop by all summer,” Meisel said. “From Brian Grazer’s house all the way up to the end of the beach, the neighbors have been nothing but gracious and welcoming.”

The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station was unable to confirm whether deputies were called to any of the events.

Fingerprint Communications promotes high-end properties, venues and merchandise to celebrities and other high profile people and, consequently, to the media at large. “We have projects during the New York Fashion Week and the Emmy broadcasts,” Meisel said. “But we also promote new hot spots like the clubs Crimson and Opera in Hollywood.”

The public relations company also helped arrange fundraisers on the property. “We had 15 inner-city kids here for David Hasselhoff’s Camp Baywatch,” Meisel said. “These were kids who’ve never seen a beach before and they got to come here and build sand castles.”

Meisel said her clients who used the Polaroid house during the summer were courteous and never presented problems to neighbors on Malibu Road. A recent visit by The Malibu Times to the home revealed bikini-clad guests sunning themselves on the deck and nothing noisier than the high-definition television monitors, featuring surfers, scattered around the rooms.

However, the city has received “plenty” of complaints about the noise, obstruction to private garages and “attitude” from parking attendants hired for different corporate events, Councilmember Andy Stern said.

“We’re Malibu. We’ve had stuff like this before, but never to this extent,” Stern said. “Their event parking attendants were treating residents [terribly]! Believe me, this will not be happening next year.”

Stern said he would be walking the beach below Malibu Road, house by house, to get a full assessment from residents on the summer’s activities.

“The first thing we are going to do at the next council meeting is to determine what laws are currently on the books so we can shut down these activities before next summer,” he said.

Melissa Lemer rented the “Silver Spoon house” on Carbon Beach this summer, so named for her promotional firm Silver Spoon Entertainment and Swagtime LLC, and said the property only saw “small, private dinners with no more than 30 guests like Joan Rivers and her friends.”

Lemer’s firm organizes entertainment marketing for celebrity events. “We’re known as the queens of swag,” she said. “This is the second year we’ve rented here and Malibu is a perfect lifestyle branding opportunity … we are all about showcasing the summer ‘must-have’ products.”

Accordingly, everything one can see, touch, eat, listen to or wear in the Silver Spoon house is all about product placement, Lemer explained.

“Neighbors around here thanked us for turning what was an eyesore into a real postcard,” she said. “Courtney Cox’s daughter Coco would come over and try on our accessories. I introduced a new beverage at a party earlier this summer and now I can’t keep it in stock. This isn’t a party house. It’s a showcase.”

When asked about the problems visited at other locations, Lemer said, “We’ve had no problems with neighbors over the summer. We don’t even have security for our small dinners. You have to control the environment. At Lindsay Lohan’s birthday party, we didn’t serve alcohol because we wanted to be responsible.

“We always had permits for everything and we don’t do weekends,” she continued. “After all, we’re not a club.”

Gail Sumpter, the director of permit services for the city of Malibu, took issue with Lemer’s claim. “There were zero special event permits issued this summer. City law dictates that any event on a residential property must secure special event permits if there is a commercial component involved. From what I can see, with vendors and stuff that was promoted, there were plenty of commercial components.”

Sumpter said she received “multiple complaints” about the party houses over the summer.

“The purpose of requiring temporary-use permits is to find out the extent of the activity and mitigate issues like parking. Since no one was coming in to get permits, we couldn’t control the extent of the commotion.”

Lemer said activities such as Silver Spoon’s are good for local property values. “As long as we do well and there are no complaints, we’ll be back next summer,” she said.

Sumpter had an opposite view: “Things will be very different next year.”