Your article on Malibu Homeowners for Reform was generally accurate but it may have left the impression that our group was made up of code violators that the city manager referred to as “dirty as sin.” For the record, I am a founder of the group and have never been cited for a code violation, and have no violations of which I am aware on my property.
I became interested in code reform when I went down to the Planning Counter in Malibu to ask what would be needed to add a small bedroom closet to my home and they told me I would have to get a geology report, other studies and bring my entire property up to current building codes, including adding a two car enclosed garage though that was not required by code at the time the house was built. My contractor estimated that the requirements for my closet could cost over $100,000. I formed Malibu Homeowners for Reform after recognizing that city officials were preventing me from being able to hang up my clothes unless I forfeited my children’s college fund. Although I am a strong environmentalist, I thought this was going too far.
My commitment to code reform has been strengthened by hearing the stories of longtime Malibu homeowners who want to leave the city because of the extreme and costly building regulations which make it impossible to do basic maintenance on or remodel their homes, as well as the city’s pervasive and unpleasant enforcement tactics comprised of almost weekly letters, citations, inspections and warnings. Sadder still are homeowners I’ve spoken to who cannot sell their homes because they can’t afford to bring their properties up to current code and offer the property for sale free of potential criminal misdemeanor violations and the associated $1,000 per day fines.
It is not right for people to live in fear of their city officials and to feel that they are criminals for having the same types of charming homes, guesthouses, corrals, sheds, etc., that people enjoy in other coastal communities without prosecution. Malibu Homeowners for Reform will continue to work to serve the community by supporting candidates who are dedicated to improving the residential permit process and zoning code and lessen the financial and regulatory burden on single-family homeowners so that Malibu once again can be an enjoyable place to live.