Guest Column/By Rick Wallace

As time goes by: Recollections of Malibu

  • How long have you lived in Malibu?

In Africa, they use the carbon dating formula to determine when man arrived. In Malibu, I use the Traffic Signal Installation scale. Were you in Malibu before the first signal was placed along Pacific Coast Highway? It was at the bottom of the California Incline in June 1949. One month later, a signal was added at Sunset.

Or perhaps you are still a Malibu newcomer, not quite at “local” status, and have not seen a new signal since the last one, at Busch Drive, at the new plaza across from Zuma Beach, installed February 1990.

Topanga got its signal in June 1951. Guess when and where Malibu proper had its first signal … It was at Webb Way in February 1955. That is where Malibu Canyon originally fed its traffic. The signal at the pier was early, also: August 1959.

Malibu had its true growth period in the ’60s and ’70s, when the most homes, condos–and new traffic signals–came to our shores. The signal chronology, continued:

  • Coastline Drive in June, 1963 as the Sunset Mesa homes were under construction.
  • Chautauqua, July 1963
  • Trancas, February 1965 as Malibu West was completed
  • Porto Marina, February 1968, quickly followed by
  • The Bel Air Bay Club signal in April 1968
  • The combined signals at Las Flores/Rambla Paci-fico, August 1969
  • Temescal, September 1969
  • Malibu Canyon was intersected with PCH and a signal added in April 1971
  • Big Rock, February 1972
  • Heathercliff, April, 1972
  • Cross Creek was a stop sign as late as January 1974
  • Pepperdine traffic forced a light at John Tyler Drive, named after a major university benefactor, installed in April 1974.
  • Kanan wasn’t until May 1974.
  • Morning View, December 1978

Other than the Entrada signal (now combined with Chautauqua) in January 1983, it wasn’t until February 1987 that the Paradise Cove signal was installed, and soon after, the coordinated installation in December 1987 of the signals at McDonalds, Busch Realty and Carbon Canyon.

The temporary signal at Potrero Canyon (for hauling that is still not completed), came in January 1989. Last–the 26th installed–was at Busch Drive.

Despite the cries of worse traffic on PCH, we are in our longest-ever dry spell without adding a new signal.

  • One of the best places to watch the sunrise on the beach is atop the rocky point at Leo Carrillo Beach. Get there 40 minutes early on a clear morning and see the silhouette of Pt. Dume, Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina against the orange backdrop.
  • During the 1930s, there were two very prominent beach homes on Broad Beach Road, which at the time was the coastal road. They were right next to each other. One was built to look like a large fishing boat. Next to it was a large lighthouse.

Remember the fog in May? We had fog at least part of the day for 28 days. I was certain it was the foggiest month of any I have ever seen in my time here, which began just after signal #18.

  • The mean average sale price of a Malibu home, thanks to some very big deals, is about $1.75 million. There are different ways to measure and compare, but that is arguably the highest level for an incorporated city in the whole country.
  • I am delighted by the recent revival of the Malibu Beach Esplanade idea and the mention of creating a park alongside the creek. Separate from the Civic Center/parks Measure K issue, Malibu should be ashamed of itself on this one. The areas around the pier, lagoon and upstream along the creek could be a fantastic, large connected park with walking, jogging and bike paths. The park just west of the bridge is already in place for parking. What a wonderful natural resource we are not enjoying. Pathways could be built under the bridge for bike and pedestrian access up both sides of the creek park. A wide partitioned zone could be created across the south end of the bridge providing access to the beach at Surfrider and the Adamson House. Later, of course, a pathway somewhere behind the theater could connect it all to whatever develops in the Civic Center.
  • Many of you already know this: The best way to taste the flavor of Malibu people is to combine it with the taste of coffee. People-watching used to work best in bars. Now it is at the three coffee hangouts in mid-Malibu, where the great diversity of Malibu personalities is most optimally observed.
  • Prepare for another telephone prefix for Malibu phones. The days of the simple 456 and 457 are long gone. The new prefix 506 is being added on the east side, mixed in with 317 and 456. And 589 is well established on the west end, in 457 country.
  • From the Dept. of Surfer Obsession: I’ll never forget in the early ’80s when I worked in downtown Los Angeles and left my home in the Broad Beach area at 6 a.m. to drive to work. Fleeing across the highway out of Malibu West in the darkness would be high school kids in wet suits and bare feet going to surf at Zuma. High school kids! Bare feet. 6:00 a.m. Waves.
  • Speaking of Waves, that is the mascot of Pepperdine University, home of seven national athletic championships in four different sports (along with the top 50 academic ranking). The mascot has always been the Waves. When the college established in 1937 at its original location in south-central Los Angeles, they picked the Waves nickname, though the surf was miles away.

Prepare to see more Waves memorabilia in our college town. No other small-size college in America boasts such a record of success competing in Division 1, averaging two wins for every one loss in all sports–throughout three full decades!

  • Since there are about 52 local eateries, consider visiting at least one different restaurant in Malibu per week. If you live and work here as I do, it is not difficult to do, particularly for lunch. (I have nearly accomplished this myself already, this year). E-mail me at and I will send you a list of all the places to go. You will be pleasantly surprised at some new discoveries.
  • Thank goodness it has been a long time since a major local disaster. No major road closures or road repairs in quite awhile. Maybe, just maybe, with all the hillside reconstruction along most of the highway, the days of PCH closures are mostly past.
  • And finally, do you know there was once a motel up in Latigo Canyon? Latigo used to be a prime thoroughfare from Malibu to Mulholland and the valleys. About 3 miles up, at the Ocean View junction, was a small inn and gas station, circa 1950s.
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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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