Build Malibu Better: Overdue for Some Good News?

Paul Grisanti

Here we are some nine-and-a-half months after the fire and we all need a little good news.

Lots of good things have happened over the past four months as the city, county and various private groups have mobilized to assist those affected by the fire to get back into housing and rebuild their lives.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl did her part by mobilizing Waterworks District 29’s Mark Pestrella and LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby to work out an answer to the fire flow certification problem so that those damaged by Woolsey will be able to rebuild. A reduction in the requirement to 1,250 gallons per minute for one hour cleared the way for all the properties in Malibu Park, Malibu West and Point Dume to rebuild. 

About six weeks later, a commitment on the part of District 29 to start waterline replacement in the Lower Encinal area has enabled those homeowners to begin work in October of this year.

Most recently, Kuehl was able to negotiate and pass an LA County Board of Supervisors resolution to allow District 29 to waive most of the water fees usually charged for rebuilding.

The City of Malibu has been busy, tirelessly advocating for all of the above changes with the county and fire department. 

The Malibu City Council has passed the necessary ordinances to speed up the process for fire rebuilds of the previous square footage plus 10 percent to less than six months in many cases. Previously, 18 months for permit processing was considered the practical minimum. According to the city’s website, they have accepted 134 applications for rebuilds. One hundred twenty-three of those have been approved by Planning. Fourteen full permits have been granted. Of the 134 applications, only 11 are asking for more than an additional 10 percent.

The city hired the necessary planners and staffers to make this possible.

City council also dug deep and authorized a massive reduction of the building and safety and planning fees that are being charged for like-for-like plus 10 percent rebuilds.

The Malibu Foundation has been very active on a variety of fronts, working to leverage the funds they raised after Woolsey for the most impact. They are currently offering legal advice through their partnership with the Pepperdine Law Disaster Recovery Clinic, wellness support groups, housing support for those vulnerable and possibly experiencing homelessness caused by the fire and a financial advice program for those trying to analyze their capacity to rebuild. You can go to to register and find other activities.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the neighbor-to-neighbor help, local houses of worship or service organization resources that have chipped in.

The city wants you to rebuild and move back. Tell me how I can help-310.505.5006.