Malibu Business Roundtable Addresses Community Concerns

Beautiful Malibu vista in winter. Staff Photo

34 participants joined the Zoom call, including council members, public speakers, and long time Malibu residents

The new Malibu Times publisher and Editor-in-Chief Hayley Mattson, hosted her first Business Roundtable meeting on Friday, Feb. 4, in partnership with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, where 34 participants joined the Zoom call, including council members, public speakers, and long time Malibu residents. The meeting gives participants the opportunity to provide city updates on upcoming events and share their concerns. 

To kick off the meeting, the Homeless Task Force Chair, Ian Roven, provided the first update and said the eviction moratorium for non-residential tenants ended on Feb. 1 but was extended until Dec. 31 of this year for residential tenants. 

Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti said the state has a program that allows the landlords to get their missing rent back. Grisanti asked the members in the meeting if that program has helped anyone. 

Roven said there is a program called Housing is Key that provides resources for renters, landlords, and homeowners in California and said the program has worked for the businesses he works with.

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chris Wizner asked if anyone has been affected with inflation on payroll and said he noticed the tax raise on the employer side. 

The Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Barbara Bruderlin said she noticed the social security withdrawal went up and made paychecks higher for businesses, not a huge increase. Still, she knows the companies will see the spike.

Wizner said with the employer’s increase in pay, they have no choice but to increase their prices.

Bruderlin said businesses in Malibu have been suffering, specifically tenants who are on the verge of being evicted. Bruderlin said most tenants don’t know their rights when it comes to eviction. For example, she said businesses like the Malibu Country Mart have been closing, and there have been no police or help to enforce the law.

Bruderlin said they still have not been able to host in-person events due to COVID but hope to start in March.

Wizner said the chamber will host an event on Feb. 16 for young professionals called “The Importance of Starting Early for Young Investors,” with Tameron Keyes, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Zoom. The link will be provided upon registration. 

Wizner said they also have been hosting free virtual zoom mixers and promised they would be an interactive and productive use of time. 

For city updates, Interim City Manager Steve McClary was not able to attend the meeting; however, Mayor Grisanti provided an update. 

Grisanti said the City Council will meet on Monday, Feb. 14, and announce the new Mayor of Malibu, and he hopes other projects will be close to being completed.

Grisanti said the city is in good shape financially and thanked the Arson Watch and CERT Team for their volunteer work for the COVID-19 testing site at City Hall. 

Bruderlin asked if there were any grants available for businesses. Grisanti said there was a 5013c grant coming up in March. He added $148,000 was sent to charitable institutions last year.

SCE spokesman Rudy Gonzalez said they were able to present to the council the issues on public safety shutdowns and asked the city what they can do to help the community as well as how they can update the public during any power outages.

Gonzalez said he would no longer have local responsibility for Malibu and has appointed Andrew Thomas to the team. Thomas sent his email to the meeting chat

Wizner mentioned the Thanksgiving power shut off Malibu experienced last year and said there was no power in certain areas in Malibu, specifically areas that have been affected by the Woolsey Fire.  

Gonzalez said that has been on their list of priorities. 

Grisanti said he has received many emails from homeowners saying their bills are still high. Gonzalez said they’re sharing the feedback with the team and will be responding to those who reach out to them and file a California Public Utilities Commission complaint. 

Rebate information on portable power stations can be found at

Planning Commissioner John Mazza said the lack of planners has been affecting the department, and projects have been stacking up. Mazza said there has been a battle with commercial applications and Woosley Fire permits.

Public Safety Commissioner Doug Stewart said they’re going to see an increase in rent. So far this year, Buena Park’s rent for an industrial building is 72 cents square feet, and that has been increased to $1.25, a 74 percent rent increase.

Stewart said the public safety commission is looking into developments for Westward Beach and overnight parking on PCH. Any vehicles or RV’s that are parked in non-parking zones would be towed to Newbury Park. 

Mazza reminded the participants about the Westward Beach project and the lack of coastal commission research there has been during the process.

Scott Dittrich said there is a major inflation issue with businesses and restaurants due to COVID and said the significant impact and influence of amazon prime made it difficult for businesses to compete with.

Speaker Ryan Embree said the city of Malibu collects 5 percent of the tax collected by residents and needs to be allocated better, such as fixing roads. Embree suggests unplugging your laptop if the power goes out.

Don Schmitz said the knee-high tide will affect the best property owner. He said the issue needs to have a bigger discussion. 

Malibu School Board Member Craig Foster said they hope to find a mediator with at least a comment understanding of the financial plan for further meetings and help with making agreements. 

Foster said the district has seen a major disenrollment and said it’s important to have local control and hope to keep students by providing good enrollment and providing the best education in public schools. 

Roven said he attended a board meeting and said equity was a reason why Malibu can’t split and conflicting cross talk. Roven said students are choosing to leave because the parents are seeing they aren’t providing the same resources as other schools are affecting their enrollment. Roven asked the community to show up to board meetings to speak on receiving resources and opportunities to create a robust education and district in Malibu with its major school counterparts such as Pepperdine University. 

Foster said Santa Monica has the most political impact with 85 percent of voters coming from Santa Monica. He added a different school board would have a different ability to make decisions. Foster said the less students in Malibu, the more money for students in Santa Monica. 

Mazza asked if the Malibu High School project will go to the planning commission. 

Foster said EIR approved phase three and four. They only have money for phase one, they don’t have money to work on those projects. 

In terms of a COVID update, the district has stabilized to follow the county, there has been a lot of tension.

Heidi Bernard provided a brief update on the shows and concerts going on at Pepperdine.

Malibu Patrol Scott Wagenseller said there has been an active problem in transients in shopping centers in Malibu. He said there is a lack of reporting of crimes that have been committed. Wagenseller said 75 percent of thefts, vandalism, and other quality of life issues aren’t being reported because the victim said it’s too much of an inconvenience to call the police or make a report.

Stewart provided a brief update on public safety and said they have had extra patrol and security in Malibu; however, there has been an increase of fatalities on PCH, most have to do with transients and bicyclists on the road, and their priorities are trying to control traffic flow. They have added additional security in car shows in the Civic Center and on the canyons. Stewart said the Safe Canyons Program is some of the resources they can provide in terms of street and canyon safety. 

Embree asked if the city could consider this as a global crisis and come up with a solution. 

Wagenseller agreed that the car shows and street racing is regional problem and added that social media brings people together within an hour. 

Roven asked if there was a better way to organize a better location in Malibu for car shows. He suggested implementing a specific lot in Malibu, especially the lot in front of City Hall, on Civic Center Way, where The Malibu Chili Cookoff is originally organized to be a location for the car show. Mazza said the Malibu Bluffs Park has cars for coffee once a month, but Roven said it would be much better organized if it had a specific location every Sunday.

Speaker Christine Carter Conway said street racing is a huge issue. Wagenseller said it’s difficult to enforce and monitor street racing in PCH. 

Embree said street racing is a public safety concern and threat to Malibu and needs to involve the West Valley CHP.

Some of the chat comments that were unable to get addressed were:

  • Redevelopment of the Cabrillo site needs minor street widening to accommodate appropriate curbside activity consistent with the uses along the residential City street.
  • Additional SCE program information is available by visiting
  • Point Dume Community Services District has three new members, Hap Henry, Richard Garvey, and Jane Albrecht. John Mazza and Paul Major are also on the Board. LAFCO will be deciding the fate of this organization in March. We need Point Dume Residents to get involved. PDCSD may try to expand services to include fire protection, just like Malibu West did. Adopt a Fire Hydrant program to provide additional resources. We must learn the lessons of the YO-YO Woolsey fire now before the next one.  
  • Environmental Issues, California Coastal Commission, SM Mountains Conservancy, and MRCA/Sycamore Canyon Lawsuit and Broad Beach Repair items were unable to be covered due to timing of the meeting but will be followed up.

The Malibu Round Table is always on the first Friday of each month, with the next meeting on Mar. 4 at 8:30 a.m.