Beyond the Bay (Co.)

In all the debate over development, very little has been heard from Malibu’s business community. You know who you are: owners of small shops in the Cross Creek area, boutiques, eateries, movie theaters and so on. What do you think is going to happen to your precious little operations once the Malibu Bay Company gets its green light? Here’s a little math lesson that may shed some light on your future. MBC will probably have to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars — my guess — to finance their little Aspen-by-the-sea development. Tens of thousands of square feet of empty retail space will suddenly come on the market. The lender will be calling MBC every day with one question: “Hey you guys, got any tenants yet? I need my money!” The boys at MBC will then look far and wide for a major landmark or anchor tenant that will need lots of that space right away. This could be a Wal-Mart like operation, some kind of muscular national commercial outfit that will rapidly squash the local ma and pa retailers clean out of existence. They will do this because they can buy their goods in mass quantities more cheaply than you can and sell the same stuff cheaper than you can. Within a few months, at the most a year, I predict most of you small shop owners will be out of business, replaced by these major chains. Sorry, Malibu Lumber! Malibu will then acquire an uncanny resemblance to Calabasas, a once beautiful place rapidly becoming the ugliest, over-built civil cancer I have ever witnessed. One fast food shopping center “Spanish” plaza piece of dung after another. Wait, I’m not through! I got a little ending note for all those new soccer moms and city council members clamoring for ball fields, senior centers and other “free” goodies from the nice folks at the Malibu Bay Company. The math lesson continues: remember, now, there are only about 12,000 or so actual residents in our fair city. So who’s gonna shop in all that fresh retail space? Well, the city’s gotta grow, see, gotta have more people here to make that mega shopping complex work to pay off that massive MBC debt. Where are all these new shoppers going to come from? No problem, that same Malibu Bay Company that is bringing us this swollen shopping development also owns just about every square inch of available buildable land along our beautiful coastline. It’s the domino theory in practice again. 1. They get the permits to build the shopping center. 2. They seduce everyone who should care with trinkets like senior centers and marginal ball fields – goodies for everyone, just like those brilliant Manhattan Indians who sold the place for 24 bucks worth of trade goods. 3. Then watch as the city and county roll over when the MBC demands those other building permits. My prediction? They will build as dense housing as possible and bingo! Malibu Town Square or whatever kitchy name they will call it. The whole system works like a charm. The really cool part is, you’ll never have to get lonely for Calabasas because from the water’s edge to the 101 freeway, it will all look exactly the same!

You may sense that I am not pleased with this state of Malibu’s present and future and I’m not. I got a frightening sense of Malibu Bay Company’s intentions when Lyn Konheim showed me his little model in the trailer and told me that the extensive parking area with its little trees counted as “open space.”

Marshall Thompson

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

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