From the Publisher: Odds and Ends

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Arnold G. York

When most people think of a granny flat in their backyard, they usually think about a possible Airbnb rental. But think again. Latest surveys show that four out of 10 Millennials (18-35-year-olds) in Southern California are still living with the folks, and with today’s soaring LA rents they are unlikely to be moving out soon. So, if you want to get your offspring out of the house, you better start thinking about building a little shack in the back of your lot. Today’s generation is graduating college and graduate schools with fat debts to be repaid, which means they’re putting off all sorts of things like renting an apartment, buying furniture, getting married, having children, buying a first home or even a new car. They talk about the Millennials being less acquisitive, but that’s probably not so. Their problem is they just don’t have any money, so if you’re wanting some grandchildren anytime soon, you better get busy building.

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We just had the mayor’s State of the City conference, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and others, and the overall message is that the City of Malibu is in pretty good shape, financially at least. We have reserves of 88 percent of the annual revenue at a time when most cities are struggling to get their reserves up to 50 percent, which many don’t achieve. We have been financially conservative and well managed, but we’re also blessed with a large property tax base that keeps growing, and restaurants like Nobu that throw off a lot of sales tax. Also, our prior city councils made a heck of a deal when they bought Legacy Park from Jerry Perenchio, which included a number of pieces of revenue-producing commercial property in the Civic Center area as part of that deal. Needless to say, the usual cast of characters was against the deal, which is turning out to be one fabulous cash cow. The Lumberyard Center is built on city land and the city has participation leases, which means the city doesn’t just get rent from the master tenant, but as time passes and rents go up, it also gets a piece of the additional rental action. I vaguely remember someone saying that rental bonus was now in the annual $300,000 range, but my numbers could be off somewhat. But things may be changing. My mother used to say money burns a hole in my pocket and I think the same applies to the city. There are some in the city, and some on the council, who would like to buy up what open land we can get and retire the land. They just bought 35 acres in Trancas for about $11.3 million and, from what I can glean, many of that group would just like to do nothing with that land. The problem is there is a lot of open land inside the city, and if the council starts acting like a kid in a candy shop we could go through the reserves real fast. We’re going to have needs in future like infrastructure, schools, resident-serving parks and disasters, which do happen here.

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The city, in conjunction with others, just finished the PCH traffic study and, as I said before, it reduces the parking portion to a simple formula — too many cars, too few parking spaces. Some day, we will reluctantly come to the conclusion that we need some parking structures, but I don’t think we are there yet. The Soho Beach House (formerly Nikita Restaurant) on Carbon Beach came up for the one-year review of its conditional use permit (CUP) to make sure it was in compliance with all the conditions and fell short in a few categories, so the planning commission kicked it over for three months to give them time to comply. I assume that one of the conditions had something to do with employee parking, because I know that much of the parking in this Carbon Beach area of Malibu is taken up by employee parking from Nobu, which has some shared parking arrangement with the Soho Beach House. I will confess that I am not totally objective on this subject, because Karen and I rent a condo on Carbon Beach, and nightly I curse out Nobu when I try to find a parking spot. I know Nobu employees take the spots because they all wear white shirts that say “Nobu.” Miraculously, on Monday there were parking spots on PCH and then I remembered the Planning Commission was hearing the Soho Beach House. Now, maybe Nobu was closed that night or their help swam in like frogmen, but it sure was a lovely change. I think it may be time for the city to re-examine its rulebook and make the necessary changes in the codes. In a city as long as Malibu, 21 miles long, and as skinny as Malibu, it’s difficult to develop rules where one size fits all. There is nothing wrong with having different rules in different parts of Malibu.

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Some of you may have noticed that I said Malibu was 21 miles long, which is different than the old sign that said Malibu was 27 miles long. At the value of the Malibu real estate today, those six extra miles are worth mucho dollars, but that land has not vanished. It turns out when they first made the sign, they included some of unincorporated Malibu, so the new sign is correct and we have reluctantly surrendered any claims to the county’s six miles of Malibu.