This week will be my final print edition as editor of The Malibu Times.
I began at the newspaper when I was just 22 years old and fresh off the train (yes, really) from New York City. When I was 23, I became the city hall reporter. At 25, I became managing editor. Now, with my 31st birthday on the horizon, it is time for me to move on to the next challenge. When we send our pages to the printer Tuesday night, it will have been eight years and one day since my first day as an intern on Dec. 6, 2013.
According to our website, I’ve written 1,519 articles in my eight years at TMT, and taken 119 photos—briefs, breaking news alerts and what feels like a million city hall stories. What all of that amounts to probably isn’t much, in the grand scheme of things, but I hope I was able to bring some degree of insight and awareness to the community over the years. This community has certainly bestowed some insight and awareness on me. I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of community organizing and the lengths neighbors will go to support one another.
Many of the same people who stay up until midnight to give public comment at city council meetings were the ones distributing gasoline and water bottles during the fourth day of the Woolsey lock-down, when everyone was running out of food and patience.
I’ve also seen eight years of passionate, intelligent, well-educated and well-informed residents fight each other on every issue under the sun, but the next day, the sun was still shining. The fire came and they pointed their hoses to their neighbor’s roof, or fed their neighbor’s pet fish, or shared a shoulder to cry on, whether their lawn signs said Farrer or Pierson or Damavandi or Palmer or Simmens.
Perhaps the greatest example of this is the Wagner Affidavit, which amounted to a hill of beans, and cost the city a whopping $400,000. And in the end, what changes? For the average resident, not too much.
I can’t help but think it may be worthwhile for those who find themselves with a lot of resources, enthusiasm, and time on their hands to focus their energy toward a cause that really matters—there are plenty, both at home and further afield, that are worthy of your time and talent.
Over the years working at the newspaper, I’ve seen some changes come to Malibu.
Poison Free Malibu has seen massive success in its efforts to ban rodenticide in the mountains. Jim Thorsen retired, Reva Feldman was pushed out and now the search is on for a new permanent city manager. The Malibu High School campus is slowly being renovated, thanks in part to parent activists who tirelessly advocated to remove PCBs.
The Civic Center Sewer was planned, approved and built, as was Whole Foods in the Park: two monumental battles that ended without too much changing after all.
We of course survived the Woolsey Fire: a monumental battle of another kind, that changed everything.
In this time, plenty has changed in my life, too. I’ve lived in Oxnard, Westlake Village, Ventura and Los Angeles. I met my boyfriend, got engaged and got married (in Malibu, thanks to a good friend). I adopted the most wonderful dog, a Thomas Fire rescue. I totaled my first car in one of the iconic intersections where you go to total your car in Malibu: Las Flores and PCH, right across from Duke’s and the old Malibu Times office.
Some things have also stayed the same. Not one miserable grain of sand has been deposited at Broad Beach. Malibu schools are still controlled by Santa Monica. Granita is still vacant.
But Point Dume residents also still dance down Birdview every year on July 4. MHS students still become rock stars and ballerinas and comedians at Masque. The Woodie Parade still rolls through Serra Retreat every December, and carolers still gather at the crèche to sing and pray. The broad expanse of Zuma Beach may be a little narrower, but it’s still some of the best sand in the world.
As city hall reporter, I always used to laugh when we would receive letters to the editor from readers incredulous over Arnold’s “biases” in stories, especially in our coverage of the planning commission and city council. I’d laugh because I was an outsider—a kid from Detroit who moved here from New York. I had no agenda and Arnold wasn’t telling me what to write. The facts were, and are, the facts. Although I must admit that over the years I have perhaps formed an opinion or two—even good reporters do, though that shouldn’t affect our work.
But now it’s time to leave Malibu; I’m still an outsider, although I’ve spent more time living and breathing Malibu than anywhere else except my own hometown. As mentioned, I married here. In my collision with a gravel hauler, I very nearly died here. I’ve laughed plenty and shed some tears here. And now, I leave here. But I won’t be going far, and you may even see my byline in The Malibu Times now and again, through my new position at the Santa Monica Daily Press.
To the Yorks, thank you for giving me a chance and for all your much needed mentorship. And to our entire team—Teresa, Nira, Carla, Margo, Julie, Judy, Jimy, McKenzie, Devon, Samantha and Hans, Barbara, Mary, and Kathy, Jennifer and Janice, and Sarah and Shivani—I don’t have the words to thank you enough.
Hayley and Nic, thank you for keeping this vital institution alive.