Arnold G. York

Let me begin by saying what this measure and this battle are not about. This isn’t a battle between the family of an elitist non-residential Hollywood titan and a greedy over-reaching land desecrator determined to squeeze every last dollar out of Malibu. Looking at some of the ads and direct mail pieces, you could almost conclude this is a battle between evils, which it most certainly is not. 

Whether you agree with them or not, you have to admire the Reiners, who put themselves on the line — their personal reputations, their energy, their money and the inevitable hits they knew they would take when they entered the fray. I’d call that democracy at its best, with people who care deeply. 

Steve Soboroff is also not some land reaper out to make a quick buck. I’ve known Steve for most of the 27 years we’ve owned the newspaper and he has always been the first center owner to step up for a local cause, contribute energy and money, work to keep local business in his centers and be part of this community. Whatever you read to the contrary about either the Reiners or Soboroff is nonsense and should be totally ignored. 

The issue on which you’re asked to vote is whether Measure R is a solution to a problem which perplexes many of us, including me. 

So let’s begin with the problem. Malibu is changing, and for many of us it’s going in a direction with which many of us are uncomfortable. We have gone from a somewhat laid-back beach community of 12,000 to a worldwide brand, a shopping destination for the rich and famous, and a name that every international brand wants to put on their list of locations. This change has come with a high price for most of us. For one thing, the traffic, which before was just in the summer but has now become a permanent feature of our lives — and in both directions. Intersections, like PCH and Cross Creek Road, which would be occasionally backed up in the past, are now part of one long line, from Las Flores Canyon into the Civic Center. Many of the stores serve the shopping destination crowd and are of little interest to the local community. 

The prospect of additional development, although the number, size and amount is greatly overstated and intended to scare, still seems like it wouldn’t provide much incentive for residents. Knowing all this and feeling the way I do, why am I against Measure R? 

It strikes me that Measure R, though well intentioned, won’t work, will cost a great deal and ultimately produce the almost opposite effect of what people want. What the measure does is try to slam the door on new projects. Although some of the center owners aren’t talking about it, it means that the existing commercial buildings become infinitely more valuable. The shortage of retail space becomes greater, rent competition lesser and rental rates go up. It’s simple supply and demand and it’s an absolute goodbye to all the mom and pops shops. 

You also cannot slam the development door shut and not know that you are going to be engaged in some major litigation. Recently, the Malibu Village sold for $120 million. That means the centers owned by Michael Koss and the City of Malibu are probably worth, I’m guessing, in excess of $500 million, and anything affecting Civic Center land that valuable is going to be litigated long, hard and expensively. 

There is also some language in Measure R that appears unclear, even muddled, and leaves considerable uncertainty about how some of the provisions of Measure R will play out. Somewhere downstream, some court is going to have to interpret them. That is always risky because you never know how you are going to end up. 

Most of all, ballot measures are rigid and future councils can’t change them, or fix problems that no one could foresee. 

A much better way would be for the council to bring back their own measure after the election, give it a harder and tougher look and make some changes. The council knows what the problems are, they just need to muster the guts to confront them. 

There is a letter in this week’s Malibu Times from eight past mayors urging a “no” vote on Measure R. The hard reality is that there is a significant segment of the Malibu population that doesn’t trust the council to fix things. To a degree, this development problem — both actual and potential — got away from all eight of them and the current council is going to have to show they can improve the situation, assuming of course the proposition fails. The eight ex-mayors are all sensible, competent people, but they grossly underestimated the impacts of the Civic Center development. I must confess, so did I. It sort of crept up on all of us and if they get the opportunity again to fix it, they need to act, and act with more urgency than they have in the past. 

No matter what the results of the Measure R election, if the present council doesn’t deal with the Civic Center development problems in a way that satisfies more of Malibu, I suspect in 2016 a much more radical council could get voted into office. 

P.S. I’ll deal with the water bond, judicial races, county board of supervisors and other county offices in next week’s column. 

(10) comments

mari stanley

RickSmith2 - are you putting your faith in the 8 previous mayors who signed the letter to editor? Those same individuals responsible for reactive government rather than proactive, responsible government that strives to encourage residents' involvement and respects voter rights? They are the ones who bear the weight of the lawsuits that are the hallmark of this City, they are the ones who cry Wolf when truly they are the predators among us. So you've got a personal bone to pick with one individual - don't attempt to change the issue and paint this as Skylar's Initiative. We've all had enough of the games, the labels and especially the snarky lies meant to deflect and defer.

Steve Woods

Saw a lot of Yes on Measure R signs ready to get passed around down at our ex Mayors surf shop on PCH .

Rick Smith

Mamielebu, with all do respect, Skylar Peak's endorsement does not mean much to me or most of the people I know. In fact, it probably hurts the Reiner Initiative's chances. But since Skylar is the current mayor, maybe he would be willing to debate Jeff Jennings on the initiative, a former Mayor. That would be great for Malibu and show leadership...

Malibu Mom 90265

I will vote no on Measure R because it is anti freedom. Private property owners should have the right to use their property as they choose. How many of you think it is OK for the government to ban rose bushes or choose the color you paint your house?


Well said Arnold, but this shouldn't be a choice between options of rampant development or virtually nothing at all. We need alternatives, and City Council is doing nothing to find any.

Two things most people agree on are: the City needs more open space/community land, and we need a bit of development, but nothing on the scale of Mr Soboroff's potential. Why not try for both? Buy some of the land and let Mr. Soboroff develop the rest, No one seems to have looked into it, so I did a crude estimate as a talking point.

Undeveloped land is worth less than value of developed land minus the improvements. Sometimes far less when there is a long time scale and much uncertainty. For the sake of discussion, and easy arithmetic, let's put Mr. Soboroff's land value as about 3 times Legacy Park, or $100 million.

As a worst case cost, if the City bought half of it ourtright, at 2% interest, this would cost around $3.9 million per year (about 15% of the general fund budget, or $715 per household) for a 30 year bond. Grant money or private funding would only lower this cost.

The actual tax increase would likely be nearly zero being offset by the increased property and sales tax revenue of the developed portion. While hardly pocket money (to most of us at least), you must also ask what is "Malibu" worth?.

In return, we we get badly needed land for community purposes, avoid costly litigation (if R passes), and get a much reduced, but still needed bit of development. And we get rid of a lot of community acrimony.

No doubt there are other possibilities. City Council needs to show some initiative and leadership, not just react and request yet another staff study.

mari stanley

A large omission in this story, that the signatures on that swarmy letter to the editor do not include Jefferson Wagner nor Skylar Peak who own businesses in Malibu!!
Not a one of the signatures on the Letter to the Editor from the Crazy 8 has as much at stake as the ones who did NOT SIGN THE LETTER.
Of course, that lends one to also realize that Peak and Wagner have acted more responsibly towards Malibu businesses and to review their voting record that proves it. The Crazy 8 have a long standing record of inaction to protect our General Plan and Mission Statement, look how many of them publicly supported the old Measure M fiasco as a 'good thing' and how they employed the same tactics of "little league, AYSO, youth sports" support. They continually use kids as a crutch to tout their plans.

Tom Bates

Common Sense Arnold!!! We agree! Scarey huh?

Please print the Malibu Association review of Prop "R" done by a task force of realtors who are unknown and attorneys. Very first class evaluation![beam][beam]


Well said Arnold... It's nice to hear a rational thoughtful explanation for us. The only information we are getting is from Rob Reiner and Victoria principle (Victoria Principle?) Can't wait to start getting robo calls from Streisand and Speilberg!

Jonny Kaye

The best overall evaluation of the issue to date. I just hope the City Council gets the chance to make this right.

Andy Choka

" It sort of crept up on all of us and if they get the opportunity again to fix it, they need to act, and act with more urgency than they have in the past. "
It sort of crept up on us------Total BS. Preserve Malibu had rallies, cash mobs, protests at city hall, 200-300 people at city hall demanding something be done, ZORACES, Planning Commission, City council meetings, town hall meetings , thousands of pages of submittals, letters to the newspaper and many articles in the Malibu Times. At most of the events the Malibu Times had a reporter. This was a process that started in 2009 unless you go all the way back to 2000 when the same players York, Rosenthal, Barovsky, Stern, Jennings, LaMonte, Sibert and House tried to foist Measure M on us with its' 685,000 sq ft development giveaway.
Does one person in Malibu believe that this city council is going to "fix it" ?
Just watch who they appoint to design the standards for the civic center. It will be developers and their architects. They don't even require you be a citizen of Malibu to sit on the panel.

Let's face it ,the developers and shopping center owners buy the ads in the Malibu Times. Arnold, why don't you care about where you live ?

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