Malibu is an affluent beach city in Los Angeles County, California. Nicknamed “the ‘Bu” by surfers and locals, the community is famous for its warm, sandy beaches, and for being the home of many Hollywood movie stars and others associated with the entertainment industry. Signs around the city proclaim “27 miles of scenic beauty”, referring to Malibu’s original length of 27 miles (43 km) before the city was incorporated in 1991.
Most Malibu residents live within a few hundred yards of Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1), which traverses the city, with some residents living up to a mile away from the beach up narrow canyons, and many more residents of the unincorporated canyon areas identifying Malibu as their hometown. The city is also bounded by Topanga to the east, the Santa Monica Mountains (Agoura Hills, Calabasas, and Woodland Hills) to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south, and Ventura County to the west.
Malibu’s beaches include Surfrider Beach, Zuma Beach, Malibu Beach, Topanga Beach, Point Dume Beach, County Line, and Dan Blocker Beach; its local parks include Malibu Bluffs Park (formerly Malibu Bluffs State Park), Trancas Canyon Park, Las Flores Creek Park, and Legacy Park, with neighboring parks Malibu Creek State Park, Leo Carrillo State Beach and Park, Point Mugu State Park,and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and neighboring state beach Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach,which was once part of Old Malibu (before it became a city), and better known as pristine beaches, El Pescador, La Piedra and El Matador.
Malibu was originally settled by the Chumash, Native Americans whose territory extended loosely from the San Joaquin Valley to San Luis Obispo to Malibu, as well as several islands off the southern coast of California. They named it “Humaliwo” or “the surf sounds loudly”. The city’s name derives from this, as the “Hu” syllable is not stressed.
Explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo is believed to have moored at Malibu Lagoon, at the mouth of Malibu Creek, to obtain fresh water in 1542. The Spanish presence returned with the California mission system, and the area was part of Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit—a 13,000-acre (53 km2) land grant—in 1802. That ranch passed intact to Frederick Hastings Rindge in 1891. He and his widow, May K. Rindge, guarded their privacy zealously by hiring guards to evict all trespassers and fighting a lengthy court battle to prevent the building of a Southern Pacific railroad line through the ranch. Interstate Commerce Commission regulations would not support a railroad condemning property in order to build tracks that paralleled an existing line, so Frederick H. Rindge decided to build his own railroad through his property first. He died, and May K. Rindge followed through with the plans, building a line starting just inside the ranch’s property eastern boundary at Las Flores Canyon, and running 15 miles westward, past Pt. Dume.
Few roads even entered the area before 1929, when the state won another court case and built what is now known as the Pacific Coast Highway. By then May Rindge was forced to subdivide her property and begin selling and leasing lots. The Rindge house, known as the Adamson House (a National Register of Historic Places site and California Historical Landmark), is now part of Malibu Creek State Park and is situated between Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Surfrider Beach, beside the Malibu Pier that was used to provide transportation to/from the ranch, including construction materials for the Rindge railroad, and to tie up the family’s yacht.
In 1926, in an effort to avoid selling land to stave off insolvency, May K. Rindge created a small ceramic tile factory. At its height, Malibu Potteries employed over 100 workers, and produced decorative tiles which furnish many Los Angeles-area public buildings and Beverly Hills residences. The factory, located one-half mile east of the pier, was ravaged by a fire in 1931. Although the factory partially reopened in 1932, it could not recover from the effects of the Great Depression and a steep downturn in Southern California construction projects. A distinct hybrid of Moorish and Arts and crafts designs, Malibu tile is considered highly collectible. Fine examples of the tiles may be seen at the Adamson House and Serra Retreat, a fifty-room mansion that was started in the 1920s as the main Rindge home on a hill overlooking the lagoon. The unfinished building was sold to the Franciscan Order in 1942 and is operated as a retreat facility, Serra Retreat. It burned in the 1970 fire and was rebuilt using many of the original tiles.
Most of the Big Rock Drive area was purchased in 1936 by William Randolph Hearst, who considered building an estate on the property. He sold the lower half of his holdings there in 1944 to Art Jones. Jones was one of the prominent early realtors in Malibu, starting with the initial leases of Rindge land in Malibu Colony. He was also the owner/part-owner of the Malibu Inn, Malibu Trading Post and the Big Rock Beach Cafe (which is now Moonshadows restaurant). Philiip McAnany owned 80 acres in the upper Big Rock area, which he had purchased in 1919, and had two cabins there, one of which burned in a brush fire that swept through the area in 1959, and the other in the 1993 Malibu fire. McAnany Way is named after him.
Malibu Colony was one of the first areas inhabited after Malibu was opened to the public in 1929 and it is one of Malibu’s most famous districts.It is located south of Malibu Road and the Pacific Coast Highway, west of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, and east of Malibu Bluffs Park (formerly a state park). Initially May Rindge kept control of Malibu Beach, allowing a few wealthy Hollywood stars to build vacation homes. Nearly a decade later, money woes forced Rindge to sell the land, and the Colony was born. Long known as a popular private enclave for wealthy celebrities,the Malibu Colony today is a gated community, with multi-million dollar homes on small lots. The Colony commands breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, affording a spectacular coastline view stretching from Santa Monica to Rancho Palos Verdes to the south (known locally as the Queen’s Necklace[) and the bluffs of Point Dume to the north.
High technology in Malibu
The first working model of a laser was demonstrated by Dr. Theodore Maiman in 1960 in Malibu at the then Hughes Research Laboratory (now known as HRL Laboratories LLC). In the 1990s HRL Laboratories developed the FastScat computer code, for frequency domain algorithms and implementation, recognized as perhaps the most accurate code in the world for radar cross-section calculations. TRW built a laboratory in Solstice Canyon without any structural steel to test magnetic detectors for satellites and medical devices.
In 1991 most of the old Malibu land grant was incorporated as a city to allow local control of the area (as cities under California law, they are not subject to the same level of county government oversight). Prior to achieving municipal status, the local residents had fought several county-proposed developments, including an offshore freeway , a nuclear power plant,and several plans to replace septic tanks with sewer lines. The incorporation drive gained impetus in 1986, when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved plans for a regional sewer that would have been large enough to serve 400,000 people in the western Santa Monica Mountains. Residents were incensed that they would be assessed taxes and fees to pay for the oversized sewer project, and feared that the already-capacity Pacific Coast Highway would need to be widened into a freeway to accommodate growth that they did not want. The supervisors fought the incorporation drive and prevented the residents from voting, a decision that was overturned in the courts.
The city councils that were elected in the 1990s were unable to write a Local Coastal Plan (LCP) that preserved enough public access to satisfy the California Coastal Commission, as required by the California Coastal Act. The state Legislature eventually passed a Malibu-specific law that allowed the Coastal Commission to write an LCP for Malibu, thus neutering the city’s ability to control many aspects of land use. Because of the failure to adequately address sewage disposal problems in the heart of the city, the local water board ordered Malibu in November 2009 to build a sewage plant for the Civic Center area. The city council has objected to that solution.
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The 2010 United States Census reported that Malibu had a population of 12,645. The population density was 637.7 people per square mile (246.2/km²). The racial makeup of Malibu was 11,565 (91.5%) White (87.4% Non-Hispanic White), 148 (1.2%) African American, 20 (0.2%) Native American, 328 (2.6%) Asian, 15 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 182 (1.4%) from other races, and 387 (3.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 769 persons (6.1%).
The Census reported that 12,504 people (98.9% of the population) lived in households, 126 (1.0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 15 (0.1%) were institutionalized.
There were 5,267 households, out of which 1,379 (26.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 2,571 (48.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 403 (7.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 222 (4.2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 269 (5.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 49 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 1,498 households (28.4%) were made up of individuals and 501 (9.5%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37. There were 3,196 families (60.7% of all households); the average family size was 2.87.
The population was spread out with 2,366 people (18.7%) under the age of 18, 1,060 people (8.4%) aged 18 to 24, 2,291 people (18.1%) aged 25 to 44, 4,606 people (36.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 2,322 people (18.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.8 years. For every 100 females there were 100.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.0 males.
There were 6,864 housing units at an average density of 346.2 per square mile (133.7/km²), of which 3,716 (70.6%) were owner-occupied, and 1,551 (29.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 11.9%. 9,141 people (72.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 3,363 people (26.6%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Malibu had a median household income of $133,869, with 10.6% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
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Malibu is a general law city governed with a five-member City Council including the mayor and mayor pro tem. The City Council hires a city manager to carry out policies and serve as executive officer. Every even-numbered year either two or three members are elected by the people to serve a four-year term. Usually, the City Council meets in April and chooses one of its members as mayor and one as mayor-pro-tem. In 2006, this pattern was deviated from when the council decided to have a cycle of three mayors and mayors pro-tem in the coming two years.
County, state, and federal representation
In the state legislature, Malibu is in the 27th Senate District, represented by Democrat Fran Pavley, and in the 50th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Richard Bloom.
In the United States House of Representatives, Malibu is in California’s 33rd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D+11 and is represented by Democrat Ted Lieu.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District serves Malibu with three elementary schools: John L. Webster Elementary School (grades K-5, located in central Malibu), Juan Cabrillo Elementary School (grades K-5, located in northwestern Malibu’s Malibu Park district), and Point Dume Elementary School (grades K-5, located in northwestern Malibu’s Pt. Dume district).
Private schools include: Calmont, Our Lady Of Malibu (Catholic), Colin McEwen High School, New Roads, and St. Aidan’s School.
Malibu High School (MHS) provides secondary public education for both middle school (grades 6–8) and high school (grades 9–12). MHS is located in the northwestern region of Malibu.
Pepperdine University, a private college affiliated with the Church of Christ, which is located in central Malibu, north of the Malibu Colony at the intersection of the Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road. Malibu is also served by Santa Monica College, a community college in the nearby city of Santa Monica to the south.
Arts and culture
Getty Villa, an art museum that is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum, is located just outside the city limits in the adjacent Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is owned and operated by the J. Paul Getty Trust, which also oversees the Getty Center in West Los Angeles. The Museum at the Getty Villa houses Getty’s collections of antiquities, sculptures, art pieces and cultural artifacts of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
The Malibu Art Association, a non-profit organization to foster the arts in Malibu produces shows, demonstrations and workshops for its members, and offers art for public display throughout the community.
The Malibu Garden Club holds an annual garden tour of private, residential gardens.
Malibu High School offers musicals every spring and instrumental and vocal musical concerts every winter and spring.
Beaches, parks, and other attractions
The long waves of Surfrider Beach, adjacent to the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon, draw a steady beach and surfer crowd.
California State Parkland carpets the hills behind Malibu, and provides extensive horseback-riding, hiking, running, and mountain-biking options, affording many different views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the curve of the Santa Monica Bay, Santa Catalina Island, and the San Fernando Valley. There are many points of access to the Backbone Trail System scattered throughout the local canyons, as well as a variety of smaller, local trail-heads.
Pacific Coast Highway is popular with road cycling enthusiasts for its vistas. The route also has a reputation for being quite dangerous for cyclists, a fact which inspired the creation of the Dolphin Run, an annual community event commemorating local victims of reckless driving. The Dolphin Run was held each Autumn from 1990 to 2004.
Adamson House, the unused homesite of the 19th century original owners of Malibu, the Rindge Family, draws some visitors.
In late June 2008, the Malibu Pier reopened after $10 million in renovations.
There are several shopping centers in the Malibu Civic Center area including the Malibu Country Mart, the Point Dume Plaza, and the newly opened Malibu Lumberyard, so named for the community Lumberyard that used to occupy that space. The Malibu Civic Center is well known for being frequented by paparazzi and tourists looking to catch a glimpse of local celebrities.
Malibu Bluffs Community Park and Malibu Bluffs Recreation Area
The former Malibu Bluffs State Park ownership changed hands in 2006 after the California Department of Parks and Recreation transferred the park’s 93 acres (380,000 m2) control to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, They established the Malibu Bluffs Recreation Area, an Open Space Preserve of 90 acres (360,000 m2) on the bluffs between the Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Road, directly opposite Pepperdine University and Malibu Canyon Road. The 100-foot (30 m) bluffs rise above Amarillo Beach and Puerco Beach across Malibu Road. Five public stairways (which adjoin private property) lead down to the shoreline from the base of the bluffs. The trails begin from the spacious lawns in Malibu Bluffs Community Park
The Malibu Bluffs Recreation Area surrounds the 6-acre (24,000 m2) Malibu Bluffs Community Park, whose 10-acre (40,000 m2) parcel the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy sold to the city. It consists of the Michael Landon Community Center, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields. Home of the Malibu Little League (MLL), once the largest youth team sports organization in Malibu. (That honor was wrested in the 1990s by Malibu AYSO, a youth soccer organization that shares park space (practice fields).) For over 20 years, the State Parks had tried to kick out Malibu Little League’s baseball diamonds and tall baseball fences, with the intention of returning the land to its native wetlands and vegetation. A rider to a California state law was written specifically in the 1950s to allow baseball, with its attendant field accoutrements, to continue being played in the state park. Several generations of Malibuites worked to keep Malibu Bluffs Park for baseball and soccer.
Malibu Legacy Park Project
Adjacent to the Malibu Country Mart was a vacant, 20-acre (81,000 m2) plot of land owned by billionaire Jerry Perenchio and sold to the City of Malibu in 2005 with strict deed restrictions prohibiting any further commercial use.
This site is now home to Malibu Legacy Park, an ongoing restoration project undertaken by the City, with broad community support. The City hopes that a state-of-the-art water treatment plant already built will use stormwater runoff that accumulates in the park, making it into an environmental cleaning machine that will end the City’s stormwater pollution contribution to Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon, and the world-famous Surfrider Beach. The Malibu Legacy Park Project responds to critical issues: (1) bacteria reduction by stormwater treatment, (2) nutrient reduction in wastewater management, (3) restoration and development of riparian habitats, and (4) the development of an open space area for passive recreation and environmental education. In addition, the Project will be linked by a “linear park” to neighboring Surfrider Beach, Malibu Pier, Malibu Lagoon, and Malibu Bluffs Park.
The park is located east of Webb Way, and between Civic Center Way on the north and PCH to the south. It was the site of the annual Labor Day Weekend Kiwanis Club Chili Cook-Off from 1982–2009 (in 2010, the Chili Cook-Off and Carnival went on as usual, but moved to still-open land across Civic Center Way, on the Ioki property, at the corner of Civic Center Way and Stuart Ranch Road). Further back, it was agricultural land, planted in geraniums, other flowers and vegetables by the Takahashi family since 1924.
As of now, “Legacy Park” stands in the lot adjacent to the Malibu Public Library. Some dissidents of the park development feel the project was a waste of money because the park does not contain grass areas, only many walkways and plants. What they may not be aware of are the strict “passive use” restrictions also included in the land purchase agreement. Not only are all ball sports prohibited, but running/jogging and other sports are banned within the park as well. The park does include many educational features, an outdoor classroom, and other informative features which explain the different habitats included in the park’s final design.
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