Meet your new Malibu mayor: Steve Uhring

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Steve Uhring. Photo courtesy City of Malibu.

‘I think it’s City Council’s responsibility to try to improve the quality of life for Malibu residents.’

By Judy Abel 

Special to The Malibu Times 

Malibu’s new mayor, Steve Uhring, has come a long way from his humble beginnings, born the son of a coal miner in western Pennsylvania. After graduating from Merrimack College with a degree in accounting, he started work with Arthur Andersen, but said, “Over time I decided accounting wasn’t exactly my love.” 

After working in a number of fields, including graphic design, Uhring eventually worked his way up to vice president at a big company. When the company was sold, his wife decided to move back to California. 

“The interesting part is she bought the house in California,” Uhring said. “I never saw the house. She moved out to California, bought the house and then invited me to stay there. That was good.” 

It’s the same Malibu house he and his wife live in today some 30-plus years later. Uhring hadn’t even seen the house for the first four months his wife lived there.

Uhring’s first foray into community activism started by “hanging out” with another well-known Malibu figure. 

“When I first moved here I’m sitting in my backyard and I get a call from this guy Ozzie Silna,” he said. “Ozzie had been around for a long time. He was a very successful businessman. He said, ‘Do you know what’s going on in Malibu?’ I told him I had no idea, I just got here and he said, ‘well you’ve got to figure it out.’ We talked about what we thought the city should be as we go forward.” 

Around that time, Uhring says the then City Council “came up with this deal they were going to do” with the late Jerry Perenchio. 

“It was Measure M as I recall,” Uhring said. “It would have allowed Jerry Perenchio to build on the old Chili Cook-off site that is now the Legacy Park property. He could have built a 185,000-square-foot shopping center there. He could have built at what is now the Chili Cook-off property. He could have built on land at Trancas and the city came up with this deal to let him do it. 

“We looked at that and said ‘this is not a good deal for the city.’ So, Ozzie and I and a bunch of people put together a ballot initiative. We went to the residents and said ‘before this deal can go down residents have to vote on it.’ We did the ballot initiative, we got the signatures, put it on the ballot and we won that 60/40. We basically stopped this whole process of what they were doing and then we met with the City Council to talk about buying the Legacy Park property.”

Through the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy, Uhring and his group raised $500,000 to contribute to the acquisition of Legacy Park, an accomplishment of which the new mayor is very proud. The 76-year-old stated, “We did the work we had to do to try to stop this city from concocting this deal with Perenchio because we thought there was a better way to go and the end result is [that] now we have Legacy Park, we bought the Chili Cook-off site.”  

When he lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, Uhring recalled the old city government had “everything all figured out” so he didn’t participate in government there. “Once I got out here and got hooked up with Ozzie and other folks” he said he was pulled in. “And that’s what I’ve been doing since,” he said.

Prior to his three-year term on City Council, Uhring served on the Planning Commission for four years. He decided to run for council because he said he was unhappy with the slate of candidates he thought tilted in the direction of more development as he considered himself slow-growth. 

“I said let me run and give the residents an alternative,” Uhring said. “I understand you can’t go back to what Malibu was 30 years ago, but I don’t want to wake up one morning and be living in Laguna. If the process can move at a pace that gives everybody a chance to adjust, make the right decisions, see what the impacts are, I can live with that. That’s what I’m trying to do. I think it’s City Council’s responsibility to try to improve the quality of life for Malibu residents.”

He touts his accomplishments on council as increasing Sheriff’s protection, making strides assisting the homeless, and helping get the Dark Sky Ordinance approved.

In his new position, Uhring would like to tackle enforcement issues on short term rentals and parties. 

“We’re doing a disservice to our residents not providing better enforcement,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to accomplish, but we also need the residents to stand up and tell us what they want. The more resident participation I think would move things faster.”

In his spare time Uhring likes visiting the Adamson House, Farmers Market, hiking Solstice Canyon, Malibu Creek State Park, and of course, Legacy Park.