Apocalypse, not

Y2K didn’t wind up bugging much of anyone in Malibu, but many people decided to forego the large festivities downtown and out of town.

Most stayed home and watched NBC and CNN TV coverage of celebrations around the world, and local fireworks displays shot from barges moored at Paradise Cove New Year’s Eve and Broad Beach New Year’s Day, which were visible along most of the coast.

About 100 people went dancing at the Malibu West Beach Club party, hosted by residents and catered by Richard and Donna Chesterfield.

A progressive dinner party in the La Costa neighborhood kept residents out of their cars, walking the short distance from house to house, and sharing food and cheer without having to brave PCH.

Most celebrated the turn of the century at private parties in homes, with many people making the rounds in limos.

Sheriff’s deputies reported traffic was light, with only one DUI-related collision about 8:30 p.m. southbound on PCH. There were no injuries. Traffic signals continued to work properly even after midnight, although it often takes less than a Y2K glitch to turn all the lights red at once.

“Traffic was unbelievably light. We had a checkpoint at Topanga from 7 p.m. until just before midnight,” said Sgt. Kevin Mauch “I’ve never seen so many cabs in my life.”

Although there were a few private (illegal) fireworks displays reported, they were kept under control. Asked what he thought prompted people to stay home and stay out of their cars, Mauch said, “Perhaps people were just being responsible. It’s a novel thought. We had a nice, peaceful time.”

Several Malibu restaurants were closed — BeauRivage for a private party, and Allegria so its employees could enjoy the holiday at home.

And it was a disappointing evening for most of the restaurants that stayed open. Some had reservations canceled at the last minute, and others reported serving only half as many diners as expected.

Whether people were staying home to avoid traffic and crowds or because they were concerned about Y2K disruptions, it was a very different New Year’s Eve.

Earlier in the day, grocery checkout lines were jammed with carts overflowing with bottled water, batteries and emergency food supplies. They were not needed for Y2K, but good to have on hand for future earthquakes, fires, road closures, the usual Malibu crises.

The city manager’s office reported no glitches in the computers at City Hall. Finance Director Bill Thomas, the city’s Y2K expert, had apparently taken all the necessary steps to thwart the bug.

“After all the hype, it was a flop,” he said Tuesday. “I came in yesterday and everything turned on, no problems.”

The city started in March 1998 replacing all its old computers with Pentium-based, Y2K compliant computers. The network software and servers were installed last year. “The only major software package we are using is the accounting package, and it was certified Y2K compliant,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t appear there are any problems.”

At the Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director Mary Lou Blackwood said, “Everything went off without a hitch. We knew several months ago that our computers were fine.” That seems to be the case with businesses throughout the city. “I haven’t heard from anybody that there were problems. Did we spend this money for nothing? If nothing went wrong, I say it was worth it.”

Tell that to Realtor Beverly Taki, who said a computer technician came to her house and told her neither of her home computers would even turn on after Dec. 31. “I spent $2,000 on a brand new laptop computer,” she said. “On Saturday morning, I turned both the old ones on, and both of their clocks read 2000.”

At the Coldwell Banker office, all new computers had been installed, because real estate listings are listed by date.

“There were no problems with voice mail, cell phones or anything,” Taki said. “We all thought something would go wrong, and nothing went wrong.”

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

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