After her husband Harry’s death, Sharon Barovsky joined the Malibu City Council to “finish what he started.”
After a decade with the council, including serving as mayor twice, Barovsky has a long list of accomplishments, including the establishment and development of many parks in Malibu such as Legacy, Bluffs, Trancas, and Las Flores parks. She also was involved in purchasing what is now City Hall and worked with former Councilwoman Pamela Conley Ulich to negotiate the deal behind the Malibu Library. Barovsky credits fellow councilmembers for all the accomplishments.
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in English, Barovsky moved to Malibu more than 50 years ago as a teacher. She has four children and two grandchildren. Today at age 75 she wants to go back to her first passion of writing.
The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the woman who “longs for the live and let live days of Malibu in the 1960s.”
What did you learn after serving Malibu on the City Council for a decade, including being Mayor twice?
To keep my back to the wall. I learned how government works: very slowly. My husband was on the council when he passed away. He had a list of items he wanted to accomplish and by the end of my term, all of it was done. Purchasing and turning the Chili Cook Off Site into an environmental park is what I’m most proud of. I had a great council to work with. We bought City Hall and did all of that without using general fund money. City Hall was bought with bond money. When those bonds are paid off, we’ll be staying there rent-free.
You are behind the establishment and development of many parks in Malibu. How and why did you choose to take these steps?
My husband’s goal was to have a park in every corner of Malibu. And we did that by the time I was done. Legacy Park was a great business decision. It pays for itself and generates income for the city with the Lumber Yard, animal hospital ... I think it generates almost half a million dollars a year. And that will pay for the maintenance of all three parks.
You have quite a list of accomplishments in Malibu. What is your driving force behind it all?
It was never my dream to be on City Council. But I took the job to finish what my husband started. I had a great council to work with. Everything, all the accomplishments, took five people on the council to do it together as a team.
What are you currently working on?
I love to write. Before I joined City Council, I was a writer. And now I’m going back to writing. I’m writing a novel that will be set in Malibu. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of next year.
You have lived in Malibu for quite some time. What is the biggest change in Malibu over the years?
Physically I don’t think it’s changed a lot under city permits. People keep talking about the traffic, but 50 years ago, traffic was bad on the weekends as well. But demographically Malibu has changed a lot. When I moved here in the ’60s it was because I couldn’t afford to live in Santa Monica. I was a teacher back then. In my area here there were a lot of teachers, writers and artists at the time. Now it’s people who come here for the weekends. I bought my house for $150,000 on the beach on Malibu Road. We used to have block parties. It was very friendly with a live and let live philosophy. Now everyone’s at each other’s throats.
What is your favorite thing about Malibu? If you could change one thing about Malibu what would it be and why?
Beauty. The physical beauty is stunning. I’ve traveled the world quite a bit and there’s really no place quite as lovely. It’s hard to believe people can live in such a paradise and write such mean letters. I would change the political atmosphere so we could have civil debates instead of civil wars.
How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?
She’s lovely and very talented. It was my first time having my portrait painted. I saw the portrait and she took 20 years off my face. I look a lot younger.
Johanna Spinks does portraits on commission and also teaches classes in portrait painting. She may be reached at Johanna@johannaspinks. com or 310.384.7029.