Along the PCH


    Malibu’s first planned community was not the Malibu Movie Colony but the La Costa Hills. Sold as the first public offering of the Marblehead Land Company, which controlled all of Malibu at the time, it brought $6 million in 1928. Soon thereafter, it was subdivided and sold off in individual parcels.

    About two miles up the coast from Zuma is the Matador State Beach. It is relatively uninhabited this time of year. Go there to see the wide open beaches, the unique rock formations and bluffs, and the beach caves. Or just watch and listen to the waves, and sit still.

    It is winter in Malibu and all roads are open (as I write).

    Within an hour’s drive, one can get from Malibu to Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Orange counties. With clear traffic, you get close to Riverside County. It is also possible to drive for a full hour, and never leave Malibu! If a real estate agent shows a property on Houston Road, well up in the hills above Yerba Buena, and then has an appointment along Saddlepeak, it will take well over a full hour to drive from one appointment to the other, with clear traffic, all within Malibu.

    Is there really a baby in that baby cart? Was there ever? It seems at least five years that the baby cart jogger on the sidewalk has had that routine. Is the baby growing? Has she had a second child? Is it groceries?

    10 years ago:

    — The Dolphin Run did not yet exist but a 5-mile sprint called the Partners Run, sponsored by the local sheriff and fire departments, was in its second year at Zuma Beach.

    — The last of the new office buildings built along the PCH, The Malibu Pointe Business Centre, was opening just west of the Zuma Jay/Pacific Computer parking lot, at 22809.

    — Trancas Restaurant had a swinging nightclub scene and Billy Vera & the Beaters were playing often in the room that is now Starbucks. — The Big Rock lawsuit was just settling. About 250 homeowners were going to split up about $100 million from different state and county agencies, it was announced at the time.

    Across the street from Malibu Pier is the Malibu Shores Motel. Mounted on the corner wall of the motel is a camera. The camera is trained on the waves across the street. Every few minutes it takes a picture of the surf, which flashes onto a web site, Surfers around the world can check out the Malibu surf at any hour. has a photo of Topanga Point.

    The original Malibu railroad passed through the middle of Point Dume. It crossed over the lower part of Selfridge, then the middle section of Boniface. The tracks continued across the gulch to Grayfox to where the basketball courts sit at the school and along the backyards of present-day Fernhill on the north side. At Cliffside it curved right along the bluffs and around Birdview. That was circa 1925.

    The Homes & Land Magazine (of Malibu to Beverly Hills) allows a glimpse of what Malibu living is like. It has been free for the taking on newsstands for 19 years. Perhaps half the homes for sale in the Malibu area are featured in the magazine, a favorite to peruse at restaurants for locals and visitors alike. Dick and Peggy Lawyer began the Malibu franchise when there were only a handful of Homes editions across the country in spring 1980. All Homes & Land editions were black-and-white at the time until the Malibu publication inaugurated a color edition . The first Malibu magazine had 16 pages.

    The Point Dume Headlands has several walking trails that allow access to both beaches below. There is now a platform built near the bluff, ideal for whale watching. Every angle of the headlands offers terrific sights; it is well worth a walk or photo escapade.

    When I used to live on Broad Beach, I would be sure to complain to my out-of-state friends and family that on Oscar day it was impossible to get in or out because all the limos clogged the street that afternoon.

    The new traffic signal at the end of Malibu Canyon at Piuma Road represents a coming-of-age for the Monte Nido neighborhood. Monte Nido is the residential area near the Saddlepeak Lodge characterized by rolling hills and pleasant homes mostly ranging in value from $500,000 to $800,000. Technically, the area is the back part of Calabasas, its own valley away from the Valley. Monte Nido is bordered by Mulholland, Malibu Canyon Road and the mountain, which is ascended via Piuma or Stunt Road. Most homes sit on larger parcels, typically one acre, but multimillion-dollar estates are not few.

    I happen to think that Malibu has lost some of its character with the pronounced lack of boating off our shores. The ’50s, ’60s and ’70s saw teams of fishing boats, catamarans, speed and sail boats out the on the water. Then again, two piers were in service at that time.

    Did you know there was once a large marina planned for Malibu? The entrance would’ve been at the lagoon near the pier. The entire area between PCH and the Colony, up to Webb Way west of the lagoon, was proposed to be under water. Currently, there is a small private golf course at the site, behind the wall. Yacht slips were proposed for both sides, running parallel to the shore and highway. The Colony would’ve become a peninsula strand similar to what exists in Marina del Rey and Newport Beach.

    One signal at Webb Way, facing the ocean, finally has a left turn arrow. The side facing the hills still does not. You haven’t noticed?

    It used to be that shoppers exited the Colony Plaza near Subway, made an illegal left turn, and got a ticket. Now, with the barricade posts, they turn right and go to Malibu Road stop sign, make an illegal U turn and get a ticket that way instead.

    The Malibu Times building in Las Flores Canyon near PCH was originally a relay station for Associated Telephone Co. (the predecessor to GTE).

    So many kids! So few parks! The Point Dume park is becoming more school than park. Bluffs Park, meanwhile, has become the perfect terrain for political football, and muddy terrain at that.

    25 years ago:

    — The Nike base in the hills at Rambla Pacifico and Las Flores Canyon, which housed nuclear weapons, was announced to close.

    — The Malibu Racquet Club was under construction.

    — The new Latigo Bay Villas apartments were for lease. A single could go for $225/month. Now the Tivoli Bay Condominiums, individually owned, that sum wouldn’t cover the monthly homeowner dues.

    Other Malibu openings through the golden years: 1948 — Malibu Lumber opens, a much smaller version than today. 1949 — Frostie Freeze opens, the ideal burger joint out at the beach; it is now La Salsa. Also, Webster School opens, named after Malibu’s best-known citizen, John Webster, a judge. 1950 — The Wayne Wilcox photography studio first opens. 1953 — Trancas Market has its grand opening. 1954 — The Feed Bin at Topanga begins business. 1956 — Spic N Span Cleaners starts business at its present site across from the pier. No wonder they have so many stars’ photos on the wall. 1958 — The Colony Coffee shop. 1961 — Tonga Lei restaurant on the beach, a forerunner of Polynesian cuisine and atmosphere. It is the current site of the Malibu Beach Inn. Also, the Happy Talk hair salon opened in the plaza that is now the PierView restaurant. Later, as Edward Jones, and now the Salon at Malibu Creek, it moved to Cross Creek.