All over California, people are complaining there are no affordable rentals available. Zillow, which tracks the real estate world, put, some numbers down for each local community. Zillow estimates that no one should expend more than 30 percent of their income each month for rent. Here are some very interesting numbers for zip code 90265 (Malibu):

At $1,500 per month, there is nothing available to rent in 90265.

At $2,500 per month, there is 1 available rental in 90265.

At $3,000 per month, there are 10 available rentals in 90265.

At $4,000 per month, there are 25 available rentals in 90265.

At $5,000 per month, there are 50 available rentals in 90265.

If Zillow is correct, that means in order to rent a $3,000-per-month apartment, you should have an income of $10,000 per month or $120,000 per year. The study was put together using Zillow statewide data by two very enterprising reporters at the Los Angeles Times and you can begin to see why, in Los Angeles, if you earn the average income of $61,000 you can only afford an apartment costing $1,500 per month—and hardly anyone can find anything at that price. 

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This past Friday, Malibu City Hall was closed for the holiday weekend and suddenly a fire broke out at 11:30 a.m. in the hills in eastern Malibu. Several people told me they called city hall and got a recording that city hall was closed for the holiday and they immediately began to panic. Later, I learned that if you call the city and then dial 311 you’ll be connected to a live person who has the duty and the city has 24/7 coverage. Perhaps people calling the city didn’t hear the message and hung up. People in panic often have difficulty taking in information or listening to a full recording. The city manager and the public safety coordinator rushed back to the city and City Hall was operational by just after noon. But that time gap may feel like an eternity to people who see the smoke and smell the fire. The fire department jumped on it as it was happening, and it was pretty much over by 2 p.m., but there were a lot of shaken people. I don’t know if the callers couldn’t wait or if the message was not clear, but I think the city is going to have to have a duty officer standing by on holiday weekends to take all the calls directly.

For fuller information on the event, read our story on A1 and Paul Grisanti’s column in this week’s edition.

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This was also the chili cook-off weekend and we gave it a try on Sunday, not long after it opened. There weren’t many people there that early and it’s become clear that the chili cook-off seems to have become a nighttime event, because later in the evening it was packed. I heard some grousing about the overall cost of the event, the parking cost and I heard they changed some rules that made the rides more expensive. Truth is, it didn’t surprise me. When the Kiwanis Club was still running it, I was told that the carnival pretty much was a break-even for them and they made all of their money, generally about $100,000, on the car raffle, which they sold at $100 per ticket. I know the Kiwanis Club ran it with a skeleton crew until their members all aged out. The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu took it over but the kids are too young to do the set up and breaking down of the event so they had to hire professionals and I suspect the costs skyrocketed. I was told the club controlled the gate and the parking but not the rides, which set their own prices, and I expect the Boys & Girls Club is going to get a ration of complaints about the prices, even though they had little control over the rides. Additionally, security and parking have become major costs and perhaps the event as presently structured is too expensive for this community. We’ll know more once we get all the numbers.

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We’ve all seen the pictures of the dive boat that caught fire off Santa Cruz Island and the large loss of life that followed. We don’t know much yet but it appears that everyone who was asleep below decks may have died in this sudden fire. I was a diving officer in the Navy and ran a diving crew and one of the things you were always wary of was fire. Fire aboard a ship can be devastating in an instant, and getting out of a compartment filled with black smoke, with limited number of exits, can be almost impossible before you’re overcome with smoke and fumes. The fire sucks up all the oxygen and there is nothing to breathe. I suspect that most of those who died were healthy, athletic, strong and all good swimmers and, since none of them survived I can only conclude they were trapped and couldn’t make it to an exit. Since some of the crew were on deck when the fire broke out, I imagine they were preparing the diving equipment for the morning dive, which probably saved their lives. Still, I’m guessing that something exploded and caused this fire. The federal, state and county people are on it so we should know more shortly. Our heart goes out to the families of all the victims.

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