Parent speaks out against shopping malls in Malibu


    Why does Malibu need more commercial space? Are we going to be the last community to “get off of the mall bandwagon” of the 20th Century?

    Shouldn’t we be instead the initiators of new thinking for the new century? They say all new trends start in California and move east–it is up to us.

    According to Metropolis magazine, retail analysts believe “that during the next decade something on the order of 8,600 malls … will go bankrupt.”

    Why? The rise of home shopping via the Internet.

    During the 1999 Holiday shopping season, the dollar amount of consumer on-line purchases over the Internet practically doubled the 1998 total.

    Another factor that suggests limiting commercial development is the difficulty of small business to succeed in this area. One possible reason is that, for example, in the Studio City/Sherman Oaks area there are 100,000 people (potential customers) within a two-mile radius of Coldwater Canyon and Ventura Boulevard. In Malibu, there are only 18,000 people within a 10-mile radius of PCH and Webb Way! And, more importantly, space rentals in our existing “mini-malls” are already about three times what they are in the Valley. Any new spaces would have to charge more just to service the debt. Even businesses with the support of large national chains like Kinko’s, Noah’s Bagels, Crown Books, and Domino’s Pizza have had trouble making their Malibu locations be more than loss leaders. Office spaces are also sitting empty already.

    Do we really want to “import” more people (customers)? Do we believe that a reasonable percentage of new pier/beach visitors will buy more than souvenirs and be different from the current profile of visitors already? Can our PCH and fragile infrastructure handle any increased load?

    How about, instead, leaving your cars at home and using some of the new Internet-based shopping and/or delivery services? I’d rather have two or three (or 10) trucks on the highway, rather than two or 300 cars (and that’s just for us “locals”).

    Finally, while the Malibu Bay Company has done a lot for Malibu, and in the past has graciously supported differing recreational opportunities from the Malibu Yacht Club to Trancas Riders and Ropers and still generously provides a space for the Chili Cook-Off, maybe it is time for the community to ask them for what Jerry Perenchio has done for himself behind that stone wall in the Colony–“playing fields.” His “games” may be golf and jogging, but he understands the value of having that open space close at hand–otherwise, he could have made a profit with a mall on that space in the Colony, and have driven to the nearest park. And you can bet that his property value is not lessened by that open space as some other developers and real-estate types would want you to believe will happen to the rest of us if we don’t have Valley-style shopping.

    Maybe the other executives of the Bay Company have read the same predictions of the future as I have, and want to unload their property on a somnambulant City Council now for the “last gasp” of the “car-centered mall” paradigm before we all wake up and realize that there are other ways to shop and more important values for our community.

    (OK, for you die-hard “shoppers,” I can’t decide from a computer screen whether L.L. Bean, Land’s End, or Eddie Bauer has the most comfortable jeans either; so, you buy all three and send the least favorite two back!)

    And, NO, I am not a candidate for City Council (this time), and NO, I don’t have any interest in any Internet company. I’m just a 15-year Malibu resident and parent who thinks that the future is determined by action–not apathy.

    John Slosser