The ‘Bu-Man Show

This week, we’re holding workshops on the Malibu Civic Center Specific Plan. We’re going to hear about our town’s future. What do we want our town to be? Whom do we want to live here? What do we want it to look like?

Think about the possibility of a town center with small, narrow streets. A limited amount of traffic. Charming little clusters of homes. Small stores around a little town square and park. No tourists. No outsiders. Racial harmony. Friendly neighbors. No homeless. No poverty. No discord. A town where calamity is banished. All sitting on a balmy ocean. And then add the sound of waves lapping at the shore. And in the background, marvelous sunsets.

Sound perfect? Sound like the ideal beachside community? Sound like Malibu?

If you want to know what that kind of community would really be like, don’t waste your time going to the city workshops. Instead, take yourself down to the Malibu Theatre and see a very funny, very disturbing movie, ‘The Truman Show.’

Set in themythical town of Seahaven Island (actually a real seaside town in Florida), the movie is about a make-believe world that’s really a TV set for the world’s highest-rated show, The Truman Show. Jim Carrey plays the star of the TV show, but he doesn’t know it. Everyone in his life is an actor except him, but he doesn’t know it. Everything in his world is controlled, but he doesn’t know it. Whatever he does is followed by 5,000 cameras. He’s totally secure and totally without a life.

The movie is a farce. But how farcical is it really? Look around us. There are lots of Seahaven Islands.

Everywhere you look, there are walled communities. Private police forces. Surveillance cameras. Someone watching to make sure that our lives are protected and isolated from risk. Like Truman, people are afraid to go outside of their walls, and they certainly don’t want anyone else to come in.

Let’s not create a Seahaven Island in the center of Malibu.

I’d like to offer a few proposals.

That we consider some diversity in our community. Age diversity. Income diversity. Racial diversity.

That we get away from the total dependence on the automobile and design a Civic Center where people can live, work, eat, walk, sit at a cafe, go to a movie and maybe a play, and create a town that’s really a town and not a suburb with a few shops for necessities and some overpriced T-shirt shops.

We ought to have a town center with a place for the senior citizens to go and children to play and teen-agers to hang out and the rest of us to just walk around and look. We ought to have a park in the Civic Center.

We ought to have a town center with some way to handle sewage other then septic systems, because it’s become apparent to all of us that in the town center, the septics are all failing. They’re old and tired, and it’s getting too crowded for them to work effectively anymore. We don’t need a scientific study to tell us that. Just follow your nose any weekend afternoon.

In order to get some of these things, we’ve got to let go of the 1940s and the 1950s, when we isolated residential from commercial, got into our cars, separated the ages and ended up with many communities that are sterile, automobile-centered and empty at night.

We’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity coming our way to make our town what we want it to be. Let’s not blow it by opting for some cold, guarded, homogeneous hodgepodge, designed by a committee to try and make everybody happy and in the end probably not pleasing anyone.

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

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