Mission impossible

Recently, this memo was unearthed. Maybe it will help explain why a mission could never be built in Malibu.

To: Father Junipero Serra

From: Malibu Planning Commission

Re: Request to build one Mission-style building with red roof tiles and white exterior.

We regret to inform you that your request for a building permit has been denied. For an explanation, please refer to the following motion that was introduced by Commissioner Jo Ruggles and adopted as part of the Design Guidelines for Malibu’s Hillside Development Regulations by a 3-2 vote of the Planning Commission (Commissioners Kearsley and Lipnik voted against adoption):

“Building materials and colors blend with surrounding natural landscape, do not attract attention to themselves, and minimize visual impacts.”


Planning Director Craig Ewing’s interpretation of this guideline was that no white structures with red tile roofs are allowed to be built on Malibu hillsides.

Father Serra, your proposed color scheme for your mission has officially become a big no no, ranking right up there with mortal sin and Beelzebub. The operant words are “surrounding natural landscape, do not attract attention to themselves and minimize visual impacts.” It seems that your idea of a mission with red tile roofs and white walls does not readily blend with the surrounding natural landscape and certainly does not minimize visual impacts and just might attract attention to itself.

As an alternative for the mission, may we suggest that you consult your local army? We understand that they have some lovely surplus Quonset huts that are offered in a selection of devastating camouflage colors. If you put two of the Quonset huts side by side, you can still get that mission arch effect for which your previous missions are so well known. Maybe this will start a new architectural style, which can be called the California Mission Surplus Camouflage Quonset Hut Style.

If you choose to pick up your tiles and go play somewhere else, like Santa Barbara or Ventura, may we please use the little kiosk (with the red roof tiles removed, of course) at the entrance to your canyon? We need a building to house our newly established Malibu Paint Police.

Oh, there is one more small request: One of the commissioners has been deluged with complaints about your fellow friars. It seems that many people are disturbed about the sun reflecting off of those little bald spots on the back of the good padres heads. To minimize their visual impact, when they are laboring among the heathen in Malibu, would you kindly have them pull their hoods over their heads?

The only words that come to mind when considering this guideline: “Forgive them, Father Serra, for they know not what they do.”

Ken Kearsley,

planning commissioner

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

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