2019 in Review: May

    The many Malibu locals who pitched in during and after the Woolsey Fire are honored at a special Woolsey Fire heroes event at the Malibu Farmers Market on Sunday, April 28. Pictured, from left: Chris Williamson, Lou La Monte, Skylar Peak, Margo Neal, Kerry Clasby, Ted Vaill and Karen York, celebrating our resilient community.  

    • Kudos, certificates and many thanks to the legion (meaning, several hundred) of Malibu citizens and friends who stayed behind and helped save many homes from being burned in the Woolsey Fire. They stayed and fought despite an obvious official opposition from CalFire, the LA County Fire Department and the LA Sheriff’s Department, which all seemed to believe that only professionals can save the community. We all know how well that worked out.

    • The post-fire rain brought a new growth of grass, brown fields turning green, a lift in spirits and also fears that we were growing a new fuel load for future fires. Nearly 100,000 acres burned in the Woolsey Fire last November. To give you some sense of perspective, Legacy Park in the center of Malibu is only 20 acres. The fire burned 88 percent of the acreage in the Santa Monica Mountains. Most of the western town at Paramount Ranch, the site of many movie and TV shoots, was burned out. The 1926 Peter Strauss ranch house, the Arroyo Sequit and Rocky Oaks Ranger residences, a museum building and the UCLA La Kretz field station all burned down. Every one of the federal, state and local parts of the mountains took a major hit in the fire.

    • The local real estate market took a major hit as well. Although prices seemed to be holding pretty well, the number of homes sold will probably end up being about half the number of those sold the year before. As happens after every major fire or local catastrophe, the real estate market freezes for about six months and then slowly starts its return to normalcy. Part of the problem is that we’ve lost upwards of 700 homes in the greater Malibu area and, according to our recent insurance survey, only about half of the homeowners have adequate insurance to rebuild at current Malibu costs, roughly estimated at $500 to $800 per square foot.