A further look back

Last month, The Malibu Times recalled the event that dominated the lives of Malibuites at years’ end in 1993: the Topanga/Malibu fire. Here, the Times takes a look back on life in Malibu at the end of other years.

1992 (six years ago)

In December, heavy rains drenched Malibu, resulting in flooding in the central and eastern parts of the city, including areas that would burn the following year.

Las Flores Creek overflowed its banks, and the floodwaters forced the closure of Las Flores Canyon Road. Storm runoff from flood-swollen Cross Creek submerged parts of Cross Creek Road and damaged a number of homes in the Malibu Colony.

Six families who lived on Las Flores Creek sued the city of Malibu and L.A. County over construction and maintenance of Rambla Pacifico Road, which the property owners claimed diverted the flow of the creek and resulted in the repeated flooding of their homes. The city settled the case in 1998 by buying the six properties for $4.2 million. The county settled separately in 1996.

In city politics, David Carmany took over as city manager. His tenure would last until 1996, when the City Council forced him out of his job.


For entertainment in December, Malibu Cinema regulars could catch “The Bodyguard,” starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, and “The Distinguished Gentleman,” starring Eddie Murphy.

1988 (10 years ago)

In the then-ongoing battle between the county and Malibu, the county Public Works Department, in December, announced its assessment scheme for its ultimately-doomed Malibu alternative sewer plan, with an annual average assessment of $10,000 per homeowner. That proposed assessment would eventually climb to $13,000 before the plan was scrapped in 1991.

In December, 27 agents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service swooped down on Malibu, arresting 39 undocumented workers living in makeshift campsites at Point Dume Mobile Home Park, in Trancas and under the Malibu Lagoon bridge. The INS, acting on complaints from Malibu businesses and homeowners, also served notice on Malibu employers that not only could they face criminal prosecution for hiring the vagrants as day laborers but their cars could also be seized under a law making it a felony to transport illegal immigrants. Concern for the plight of day laborers led to the formation of the Labor Exchange.

In local media, publishers Arnold and Karen York celebrated their first anniversary as the new owners of The Malibu Times. The Malibu Cinema featured “Mystic Pizza,” starring an unknown actress named Julia Roberts. And in a loss for Rock ‘n’ Roll fans of all ages, Malibu resident Roy Orbison died of a heart attack in Nashville at the age of 52.

1978 (20 years ago)

On Oct. 23, fire raged in Malibu, this time at the western end of town. The Agoura fire, fed by strong Santa Ana winds, burned through the Kanan Corridor, charring huge swaths of Zuma Canyon and Malibu Park as it raced to the sea. Trancas Canyon and Broad Beach sustained the heaviest losses in the 25,000-acre firestorm. Between Mulholland Highway and Trancas and Broad Beach, 162 homes were destroyed.

As the year ended without heavy rains and without flooding in the burned-out areas, Malibuites kept their fingers crossed. The year had opened with major storms pummeling the community. Mud and rock slides closed Malibu, Topanga and Latigo Canyon roads and Kanan Road. High surf pounded homes in Malibu Colony and along Malibu Road, and the National Guard came in to assist with the sandbagging effort. Merchants in the Malibu Country Mart suffered heavy losses when storm runoff from Cross Creek flooded their shops.

One December issue of The Malibu Times featured two pages of advertisements exclusively from restaurants that today are no longer in business: The Malibu Sea Lion, The Sandcastle, Don the Beachcomber, Trancas Beach Restaurant and Straw Hat Pizza.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors accepted a bid to repair damage from a landslide on Calle del Barco, and it assessed La Costa homeowners living in a special district $10,000 to help finance the project. The county’s work apparently did not do the trick. The city of Malibu recently awarded a new contract to stabilize the same slope with a retaining wall and drainage facilities.

“Heaven Can Wait,” starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, played at the Malibu Cinema. The Malibu Cinema itself became a subject of controversy when reports surfaced that youngsters were smoking marijuana during the screening of surf films at the theater, and parents threatened to boycott the business.

1968 (30 years ago)

A bond measure to finance the construction of a sewer in Malibu failed in the November election. Supporters of the ballot measure blamed the loss on a flashy, “Madison Avenue” style campaign that backfired, according to reports in The Malibu Times.

In that same election, Richard Nixon carried Malibu by a 2-to-1 margin over Hubert Humphrey. A 1998 survey of Malibu voters found that 43 percent of local voters are registered Democrats, while 38 percent are registered Republicans.

The state and county announced plans to install traffic signals at Las Flores Canyon Road and Rambla Pacifico Road.

The Board of Supervisors approved new headquarters for the lifeguards at Zuma Beach, and it secured federal funding to assist with the purchase of Charmlee Ranch for public recreation space.

We can not provide readers with information on the fare at local movie houses, because the Malibu Cinema did not yet exist, and theaters in Santa Monica, at the time, did not advertise in The Malibu Times. But in a bit of street theater straight out of “Laugh-In,” a local 19-year-old man in December was arrested by what The Times called the “Fuzz” for doing yoga exercises in the nude on PCH. The man said he was trying to get closer to God.

1958 (40 years ago)

Two weeks before Christmas, fire swept through the community. This time, an 18,000-acre blaze burned between Malibu and Zuma canyons. The wildfire, which hit two weeks shy of the second anniversary of the 1956 La Costa fire, destroyed 17 homes in Corral Canyon.

Terry Waters, civil defense sector warden for Malibu, warned of the hazards of H-bomb fallout, and he advised all residents of Malibu Township to construct fallout shelters.

Mayfair Market, the first major supermarket chain in Malibu, opened its local branch in September.

The classifieds in December advertised a two-bedroom home near Malibu Colony for $29,500.

The Malibu Times reminded readers of the Trancas Riders and Ropers annual dinner, which it said would be the social event of the season. For reservations, the paper said to call Mrs. Percy Meek at GLenwood 7-2828.

On the entertainment front, movie theaters in Santa Monica in December featured “Indiscreet,” starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and “Vertigo,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. In gossip, John Drew Barrymore got three days in jail for driving 90 mph on PCH.

1948 (50 years ago)

The Malibu Businessmen’s Association met to discuss whether to recommend that the Malibu Township become part of the city of Los Angeles, as a way to secure sewers, an adequate water supply and police and fire protection.

The same association petitioned the Board of Supervisors to return West PCH to its original name: Malibu Road.

The local GOP again showed its strength in November, with Thomas Dewey carrying Malibu by a 3-to-1 margin over Harry Truman.

The Malibu Community Presbyterian Church was formally dedicated in November at the old Malibu Courthouse.

The Ramirez Canyon Association formally organized in December.

Malibu La Costa Caf advertised a complete Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for $2.50.

Van Heflin starred in “Tap Roots,” which played at one of the old Santa Monica movie houses that advertised in The Malibu Times.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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