Along the PCH

The Wilcox family built the Malibu Riviera Motel near Kanan in 1949. Originally 10 units, and now 13, winter rates were $4/night that year. Living in a tent during construction, the family members did much of the work themselves, and now have been in business more than 50 years continuously, save for a period in 1981 when a nearby fire caused some damage to two units and instigated a full remodel of the complex. The fire was started when a truck crashed into the hill nearby after losing its breaks coming down Kanan.

When the Riviera Motel opened, there was little competition along the PCH. The Malibu Inn Motel had been a busy place during the war and was located in the building next to ARCO where business offices are currently (Jon Douglas was there previously). The Casa Malibu opened at about the same time on the beach and the Holiday House was in business with a few units adjacent current-day Geoffrey’s. The Malibu Surfer, Malibu Shores, Driftwood (now Country Inn), and Albatross would come later.

The Wilcoxes built their home and photography studio soon after, a short distance down PCH, and Wayne was Malibu’s best-known photographer from 1955-1995, when he retired.

My personal list of favorite Malibu periods of the year, in order of preference, are fall days, winter days, fall evenings, summer evenings, spring days, winter evenings, spring evenings, summer days.

You probably have no idea how deep that water is out there. You have to go out about a half-mile before it drops to more than 50 feet deep. It is that way along the whole Malibu coast, from Santa Monica to Point Dume. One long reef. It gets to about 150 feet deep at about two miles, 300 deep after three miles.

You may know about Santa Monica Canyon down at West Channel Road, but how about Santa Monica Canyon in the ocean? About seven miles out is an ocean crevice by that name that has some 500-foot drops down to about 1500 feet.

In 1970, during construction, the new thoroughfare was called Dume Highway. Eventually, it gave way to its Agoura namesake and Kanan-Dume is now just known as Kanan.

It’s difficult to imagine Bluffs Park as a state park conducting state activities. How many people come to Malibu to use the parks? Aren’t the beaches the main attraction? The land is most suitable for local recreational events, certainly not to the exclusion of outside visitors. Once the hotel gets built at the corner, across from Pepperdine, the intersection will be a focal point in Malibu, and a continued and expanded layout of recreational fields will be ideal for the site.

Across the street from Carbon Beach is the Malibu Surfer Motel. Look at its sign sometime. A portion of the old sign says “T-456-6169” Good thing they didn’t add the area code way back when.

In 1804, the king of Spain wanted to reward one of his generals, Don Jose Bartolome Tapia, for excellent military service. He made a land grant of the Rancho Topanga Malibu Sostomo Simi Sequit.

What was the first home built on your street? The following addresses are homes on some of Malibu’s busiest residential streets and represent the oldest known houses on those streets, based on public records, which list the original “year built”:

31243 Bailard (1950), 20358 Big Rock (1952), 7371 Birdview (1936), 5838 Bonsall (1946), 30800 Broadbeach (1929), 6432 Busch (1947), 22042 Carbon Mesa (1948), 6110 Cavalleri (1949), 28981 Cliffside (1948), 1904 Corral Cyn. (1927), 29866 Cuthbert (1948), 33050 Decker School (1928), 7048 Dume (1947), 26312 Fairside (1957), 7059 Fernhill (1952), 7145 Grasswood (1948), 23837 Harbor Vista (1951), 30119 Harvester (1949), 5801 Kanan Dume (1950), 3740, 3760, 3761, 3966 Las Flores Cyn. (all 1921), 4128 Latigo Cyn. (1930), 26740 Latigo Shore (1945), 23746, 23812, 23832, 23844, 23868, 23910 Malibu Road (all 1927). The early birds got the best spots, but many of those homes sure look different now!

Malibuites used to order delivered food by the buckets. Chicken Delight occupied the spot where Malibu Chicken is currently, adjacent to Spic N Span Cleaners, and was a Malibu institution in the ’60s. You could get a 36-piece bucket for $9.49.

For many years, the early Malibu Realty Board (now the Association of Realtors) adopted a quote from Teddy Roosevelt as its slogan: “Every person who invests in well-selected real estate in a growing section of a prosperous community adopts the surest and safest method of becoming independent, for real estate is the basis of wealth.” No mention of Internet stocks.

The 1966 Chamber of Commerce directory reported ground had been broken for the Malibu Art Center, a large structure with distinctive shops, a fine restaurant, beauty salon, gourmet food store and 400-seat film theater, all surrounding a large atrium. It was located in the shady brick parking lot across from the Country Mart. The structure would’ve fronted on Cross Creek, from Starbucks to the photo processing shop, and extended halfway across the parking lot in front of Radio Shack. At the time, the location had a nursery of large trees, many of which remain there today, according to the architect of the project, local Harry Gesner. The developer soon fell on difficult financial times and the Art Center was never completed, but the foundation remained for later construction of all the shops behind Starbucks.

The stretch of beach from Coastline Drive to the Charthouse restaurant was once filled almost entirely with beach homes, where now there are none.

Been to Charmlee Park lately? Been there ever? Four miles up Encinal Canyon lie hundreds of acres of natural rolling hills and pastures overlooking the ocean and adjacent canyons. There are many hiking and biking trails, and up the hill by the water tank, the views are 360 degrees.

A 50-year resident of Malibu recently sold her house and moved on, but wrote to me some of her memories, beginning in the ’40s, living at Nicholas Beach: “There was no telephone from Trancas beyond County Line. Telephones came in the late ’40s and was a one-party line from the northern exit of Broad Beach Road to County Line. Before that we used the public phone at the Trading Post, a restaurant at Trancas. When it burned, the nearest public phone was located at Paradise Cove. The telephone never worked when the wind blew, it rained or it was foggy, which of course was most of the time. At that time the Tennis and Riding Club was a truck garden where celery was grown. In the early years the flying red horse on the gas station at Trancas could be seen four miles away.”

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

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