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Malibu — a way of shopping

Re letter written by J. Patrick Maginnis [“Marketing Malibu,” June 17]:

I am so relieved. Mr. J. Patrick Maginnis has provided the insight into what’s wrong with Malibu. Ralphs is not big enough. He spoke to some manager at a Santa Monica store who was remarkably informed about our City Council’s irrational prevention of the only thing between us and happiness, a gargantuan Ralphs.

The concept that size is the missing ingredient when it comes to producing quality is an idea perfectly compatible with development in Orange County through which Mr. Maginnis has been driving, sampling markets as he goes. I know of no Ralphs which is any more oriented toward quality or diverse products than any other. In fact, in the many square feet of the Malibu Ralphs, size has not effected the loss of specialized product lines previously carried by a smaller Hughes (not itself a sterling example of excellence).

Ralphs is a mass market operation desperately trying to standardize to the lowest common denominator, not a poor, battered, high quality grocer prevented from being a Balduchi’s, Zabars, Dean and Deluca, or even Bristol Farms, Gelsons, Irvine Ranch, Whole Food Markets, or even the Santa Monica Cooperative — only because it isn’t as big as a football field.

But is this issue really about Ralphs or is there a subtext which is important for Malibu in this seemingly innocuous notion of size equaling quality?

That subtext is the influx of a certain kind of population into Malibu over the last 10 years. I would define these people as those who would really rather live in a slightly more suburban environment such as Beverly Hills or Brentwood or Pacific Palisades, but the prices are a little too high, so Malibu becomes an alternative. They do not really come here for the semi-rural quality of life which has characterized Malibu. They really want all the amenities available in Beverly Hills. They want a real “city,” not a bedroom community passing as a city in order to preserve a “way of life.” They want soccer fields, ball diamonds, cineplexes, playgrounds, malls and Costco — all things which are perfectly reasonable and can be found plentiful numbers in real cities throughout the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. In Malibu there is first and foremost, the beach — one of the healthiest recreational and character building phenomena in existence. There are as well, miles of trails, many safe streets for bike riding and ball playing — in short, a child’s dream, but, horrors, it’s not organized. It is unique and provides a particular experience not necessarily a common one.

I’m sure as with many good things, The Malibu is going to be a thing of the past. It may be possible to slow down developers, but when the nature of the people change, people who feel the special qualities of Malibu are irrelevant, a hodge-podge Pacific Palisades cannot be far behind.

Donald Wrye

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

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