City of Malibu issues citation to Aviator Nation Dreamland for unpermitted ‘Zuma Cars & Coffee’ event

The Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s deputies are shown issuing citations to vehicles exiting the parking lot Sunday, Jan. 22, after the “Zuma Cars and Coffee” event at Aviator Nation Dreamland in Malibu. Photos courtesy Shane Jamerson.

While factors such as the Woolsey Fire and the COVID-19 pandemic take part in the challenges of organizing events in Malibu, events, in general, have been hard to come by.  

On Sunday, Jan. 22, an automotive event, “Zuma Cars and Coffee,” took place at Aviator Nation Dreamland, the restaurant and events venue in Malibu. And while the unofficial event was highly enjoyed by sports car enthusiasts, the City of Malibu issued the property owner a citation for the unpermitted event. 

The City of Malibu announced the citation on social media, which can be viewed by visiting @cityofmalibu on Instagram. 

“Events branded under the name, ‘Zuma Cars & Coffee,’ have been held several times at various locations in Malibu with other sponsors,” the post states. “The ‘Zuma Cars & Coffee’ event was not affiliated with the City of Malibu’s ‘Cars and Coffee’ event that has taken place on Sundays at Malibu Bluffs Park for several years, and is now on hold.”

According to the post, City Code Enforcement contacted the property owner, and issued a citation for the unpermitted event. The property owner assured the Code Enforcement Officer that no future car events would take place at their property.

The City of Malibu used to hold its Cars and Coffee at Malibu Bluffs Park every second and fourth Sunday of the month, but the event has been postponed since September 2022. 

The City of Malibu said there are currently no plans to bring back the event.

“If the Parks & Recreation Commission and City Council express a desire to revive the event, the staff will provide an analysis on whether it is feasible, beneficial, safe and in line with the needs, desires and values of the community, then the City Council may make that decision,” Media Information Officer Matt Myerhoff said.

As for the car show on Jan. 22, videos of the event have surfaced on social media, and the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s deputies are seen issuing citations to vehicles exiting the parking lot. 

That morning, deputies wrote 11 moving violation citations and 10 parking citations.

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Lt. Dustin Carr provided a statement on the issuing of tickets.

“While speeding is a reason for a traffic stop, there are many other reasons law enforcement conduct enforcement stops,” Carr said. “For example, many vehicles have modified exhausts that do not comply with the California Vehicle Code.”

The Zuma Cars & Coffee social media account shared a video of a vehicle being pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy as it was exiting the parking lot. Most of the commenters stated they found the citation to be an “unnecessary citation.”

Many car enthusiasts flooded the comment section to express their concerns against the city’s decision to cite the business and prevent the organizer from hosting any future car show events in Malibu. The post has nearly 500 comments as of Feb. 7. 

Sasha, who preferred to not provide her last name, manages the Zuma Cars & Coffee Instagram account and said they have received much support from the community and car enthusiasts about the car show.

“As you can tell by the response of the City of Malibu’s post, we have a lot of support from locals as well,” Sasha said.

“What we do is not an official event, we post we will be at a location, and whoever wants to come is welcome,” Sasha said. “We do tell people you cannot rev, burn out, and have any obnoxious activity. You must respect the location. If you do misbehave, you will be asked to leave immediately.”

“We have never been told we need a TUP [Temporary Use Permit], and according to what we read on the Malibu TUP website, what we are doing doesn’t require [one],” Sasha said. “We were a small group of car owners that met at a restaurant for breakfast. No fee to attend; anyone from the public is welcome at the restaurant. But that being said, we have no problem applying for one but it’s been clearly stated in many different ways that car club permits will not be issued permits.”

The car shows are free to attend and while many of these classics are not set up for front plates, Sasha and many car enthusiasts say the “no plate” tickets are “unnecessary harassment.”

“It makes no sense, and the unnecessary harassment is disappointing,” Sasha said. “There are a lot of good sheriff’s [deputies]… we just want to make sure everyone follows the rules… we have helped them enforce [the rules when needed]. We have no problem working with the city or county regarding our meetups.” 

Managing Director of Aviator Nation Dreamland Kelly Furano commented on the City of Malibu’s post and said she was in contact with Capt. Jennifer Seetoo the day before the event.

“I was on site observing with my two children. There was no car revving, just people celebrating the car community,” Furano said. “Our landlord offered his lot to this community as a show of support. It was not a car show or event, but rest assured, we will be more cautious in the future about how we support community artistry. Sometimes I feel that no matter what we do with the heart of Malibu in center focus, we fail. In my dream, posts like this would celebrate the efforts we are making to bring this town together, not highlight the one thing someone finds wrong.”

Artist and Vice Chair of the Malibu Arts Commission Fireball Tim Lawrence attended the car show, and hosts car shows around Southern California. Lawrence will be hosting the original Wheels and Waves at Sea n Soul Surf in Point Dume on March 5. 

According to the City of Malibu’s website, a TUP is required 35 days in advance; Lawrence said his show is still in the process of being approved.

“We’re cutting a little close,” Lawrence said. “Worst case scenario is that we get it [TUP], and then we reschedule the date of the show, but we want to make sure that we do the process right.”

According to the TUP application, events that take place outside of a business building or outside the normal service area of a restaurant require a TUP. 

“At this point, the city is requiring a TUP because the issue isn’t really with the cars; the issue is the way in which people, certain people, drive to the show and leave the show, that’s really where the problem exists and why the sheriff’s [deputies] have to do their job,” Lawrence said. “They want people to have a good time, but the way people leave the show is what causes the show to end…so now they required any automotive event in Malibu to obtain a TUP.”

Lawrence said in the 10 years he has hosted car shows, no one has ever received a ticket.

“My show is considered an art show, it’s an art show because people who bring their cars have built their cars, they didn’t go to a dealer and spend a million dollars on a car. They didn’t go to an auction and buy the car. They bought the car for $1,500, $2,500, or $10,000 bucks, and then they spent the better part of a year or two building,” Lawrence said. “They bring that car to the show and they don’t drive them fast because they don’t want them to break — they don’t want anything to happen to them, so it’s the mentality, it’s very specific.”

Lawrence remembers the car meetups at Cross Creek and said they weren’t organized by anyone — cars just started showing up. 

“So once again, it’s not the people that come to the show and enjoy the show, it’s the people that come to see something very specific and they’re very young, in many cases, they don’t think the laws apply to them, they have a need for speed and they’re fueled by the film industry and the movies that get made,” Lawrence said. “They come to the show and they drive the way they do, and then if they get a ticket, it’s all about blame. I’ve done this for 30 years and trust me when I say there’s a massive difference.”

The Zuma Cars & Coffee organizers said their car shows help support businesses for surrounding retail and restaurants and have raised money for charities in the past.

“We are car enthusiasts looking for an opportunity to meet once a month on a Sunday for two hours. We are business owners and people that love cars who want to see friends before we go back to work on Monday,” Zuma Cars & Coffee posted on social media. “Our goal is not to cause problems, but create a place where people of all races, genders, social class, background, and professions can come together and enjoy their same passion. With all the fighting that happens in this world, why is our peaceful and positive group such a nuisance? We are not all car groups and can’t be blamed for other misbehavior. If you misbehave at ours, you are banned permanently.”

The City of Malibu provided the following statement on Friday, Feb. 3.

“The car events, whether they are organized and in one location, social media-based, or spontaneous, are generally disruptive to the community by creating noise, traffic congestion, and taking up parking for long periods of time, preventing people from being able to access shops and restaurants, and disrupting businesses. They often are associated with dangerous and illegal behavior, like racing and drifting, and lead to illegal parking, including in designated fire lanes. The City’s and the Sheriff’s Department’s response has consistently been that motorists can only be cited or arrested if they observed breaking the law. An organized event requires a Temporary Use Permit, and if a car event takes place that should require a TUP, the City can send Code Enforcement to investigate, and, if appropriate, issue a citation. Currently, the City does not support car events that are disruptive to the community, but any event organizer may apply for a TUP, and every event will be evaluated on its merits.”