Malibu celeb beach parties banned

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The ordinance limits parties of more than 100 people, or those with “any commercial component,” to four per year. At least one council member wants a law to put limitations on paparazzi.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The corporations are going to have to look outside Malibu if they want to repeat last summer’s international media-hyped Southern California celebrity parties. The City Council on Monday unanimously passed an ordinance to limit the number of large parties allowed at a home to four a year.

Last summer, at least three beachfront Malibu homes were rented out to companies that invited celebrities to use them for birthday bashes and other celebrations. Corporations would display and give away products to party attendees. Plus, advertising reached unlimited heights as the many video and still cameras on the beach belonging to media from around the world captured celebrities using the various products. While these parties, which reportedly occurred several times a week, provided major footage for Web sites, gossip magazines and television shows, local residents complained of traffic nightmares and loud noise at all hours day and night.

The law, which must be approved on a second reading at a meeting later this month, limits parties of 100 or more people or those with “any commercial component” to four per year. City officials said they would encourage the local Sheriff’s station to enforce the rule.

City Attorney Christi Hogin said this is the best way to quash the house parties that “invites the least [possible legal] challenge.”

The council vote came as a relief to many Malibu Road residents who attended the meeting.

“What we lived through last year was unbearable,” resident Burt Sperber said.

Renny Shapiro, who lives next door to the home dubbed the Polaroid House, which was rented by the public relations firm Fingerprint Communications, said the parties made Malibu look bad as well.

“It’s harming our reputation, and broadcasting around the world that we are a party location,” Shapiro said. “That’s not what our neighborhoods are about. I think our town is much better than what they’re putting out there.”

No representatives from companies that rented the homes attended the meeting. And no residents spoke in favor of the parties. A call made to Fingerprint on Tuesday was not returned.

Last summer, Fingerprint head Jessica Meisel told The Malibu Times that the Polaroid House had never been a nuisance.

“We never even had a policeman stop by all summer,” she 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.”

Malibu Permit Services Director Gail Sumpter told The Times last summer that she received several complaints from residents.

Many residents considered the parties to be an additional nuisance because of the large number of paparazzi they attracted. Sperber said he counted 44 on the beach one day. He asked for the council to also come up with a law to ban the paparazzi in Malibu.

Although the council did not discuss this subject in depth, Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Conley Ulich said she would be interested in at least making laws to limit them.

“We need to actually start looking [into it] before people are going to get killed,” she said. “The paparazzi are so aggressive.”

City of Los Angeles officials are looking into creating a law that would force a buffer zone between the cameramen and celebrities. Conley Ulich said she supported doing this in Malibu.

Hogin said on Tuesday creating an anti-paparazzi law raises many First Amendment concerns, and could lead to a legal battle.

“The city of L.A. is pioneering this, and we’re waiting with baited breath to see how that works out,” she said. “We don’t need to be the defendants.”

For now, the only thing law enforcement has to find those on a quest for the valuable photograph or video footage is to catch them breaking the law during the pursuit.

“When Britney comes down the hill and people start making their illegal U-turns, the deputies can pull them over,” Hogin said.