Malibu Complete GETTING AROUND MALIBU: PT. DUME

Getting Around Malibu: Pt. Dume

The most valuable properties on Pt. Dume line the edges of the cliffs, overlooking the beaches and coves.  This property, seen from Westward Beach below, has an unparalleled view from its secluded and private setting atop the bluff.  Locked gates on private stairs provide beach access.
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The most valuable properties on Pt. Dume line the edges of the cliffs, overlooking the beaches and coves. This property, seen from Westward Beach below, has an unparalleled view from its secluded and private setting atop the bluff. Locked gates on private stairs provide beach access.

History of Pt. Dume

In 1925 Pt. Dume was a barren, wind-swept peninsula with no homes, trees or roads. The original Malibu railroad, operated by the Rindge Rancho Malibu, passed through the middle of Point Dume. It crossed over the lower part of Selfridge, then the middle section of Boniface. The tracks continued across the gulch to Grayfox to where the basketball courts sit at the school and along the backyards of present-day Fernhill on the north side. At Cliffside it curved right along the bluffs and around Birdview.

When the Roosevelt Highway (PCH) was constructed in 1929, it cut across from the shoreline at Paradise Cove to the edge of current day Zuma Beach, a route chosen to avoid the impossible coastline of Pt. Dume. As a result, Point Dume is Malibu's only sizable neighborhood on the beach side of Pacific Coast Highway, a fact that makes Pt. Dume one of the City's most coveted locations. Dume Drive was the original path onto Pt. Dume, naturally following the saddle of the massive sand dune, still appreciated for its excellent geological integrity and distance from brushfire threat in the hills.

The barren, remote acreage of Pt. Dume was unattractive to many (it was often called the "Malibu Ghetto" in the early days) and therefore remained relatively inexpensive for many years. It attracted horse owners who could buy acreage for their animals. (See Malibu Development: War Years to Late 1940s.) In the 1960s, you could still buy a small Pt. Dume house on a flat acre for $35,000 and about 400 homes have been built in the neighborhood, most in the ranch style of the 1950s and 1960s. Most homes have deeded access rights and keys for one of the three private gates to lead to the beach, rights that are part of the tremendous appeal and value of the neighborhood, so valuable that the gates have to be rekeyed annually, under tight security.

Point Dume home that is typical for the internal areas of the neighborhood.  More daring designs tend to be found along the bluffs, overlooking the beaches.Copyright MalibuComplete.com
Point Dume home that is typical for the internal areas of the neighborhood. More daring designs tend to be found along the bluffs, overlooking the beaches.

Pt. Dume's obscurity ended in 1984 when top entertainer Johnny Carson paid a then-record $9 million for a bluff-top, gated estate on Wildlife Road. Other Hollywood celebrities surfaced on Pt. Dume including Bob Dylan, Nick Nolte, Kenny G and Martin Sheen, with Barbra Streisand in nearby Ramirez Canyon. The next generation Hollywood Brat Pack (Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, Sean Penn and Emilio Estevez) roamed the streets and Sean Penn married Madonna here August 16, 1985.

Since then, appreciation has been steady for the residents. Over the years the neighborhood has grown more stately as trees matured and landscaping softened the views. Most of the horses, corrals and trails down the ravines of earlier times are gone, but you do have easy, safe bike riding and walking through level streets, shoreline views, the Headlands Park, and picturesque estates. Now Pt. Dume is called the "Malibu Riviera" for its panoramic ocean views and large private oceanfront estates.

Pt. Dume Neighborhood

Street on Point Dume, typical with its mature trees and well set back homes on ample lots.Copyright MalibuComplete.com
Street on Point Dume, typical with its mature trees and well set back homes on ample lots.

The essential character of Point Dume is a predominance of single-family homes on lots that are extremely large for parcels on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway, together with views from those parcels of andlor proximity and access to the beach. Point Dume has a lack of sidewalks and street lights, as well as roads which are rarely straight or flat, all of which adds to the rural atmosphere prevalent on Point Dume. Many homes have ocean views andlor sounds or mountain views, and the surrounding beaches are both traditional Southern California wide, sandy beaches, such as Westward Beach, as well are more unique beaches, such as the "Big Dume" beach, with its extensive tide pools.

Original construction on Point Dume customarily consisted of single story ranch style homes in the 2,000 square foot range, with "building standard" type interior finishes. However, most homes constructed on Point Dume since approximately 1985 have been large, often finished in a opulent style, and with widely divergent styles, and such homes now constitute a significant (although not ovenwhelming) portion of the Point. Such larger homes are particularly prevalent on perimeter drives and bluff streets (e.g., Cliffside and Birdview), while original styles predominate elsewhere (e.g., Wandermere).

Although single-family residences predominate, a few multiple units structures were also build on Point Dume. Multiple unit structures and multiple structures on single lots were not part of the original neighborhood character or architecture, as still are not, nor have multiple unit structures been completed recently on Point Dume. Although multiple unit structures are rare on Point Dume, a significant number have recently been built in close proximity to Point Dume on the non-beach side of the Pacific Coast Highway, and the number of multiple unit structures in the area is therefore at a saturation point. Most of the lots on Point Dume have now been,built out, though sporadic unimproved lots remain.

Shopping and related needs of Point Dume are area residents are assured, and seem assured in to the future, through two existing complexes on Point, Dume, one on either side of Heathercliff at the Heathercliff entrance to Point Dume. In addition, retail office space is also provided at Heathercliff, as well as at another complex off Portshead. Passive and active recreational needs are met by the Malibu Community Center, which provides public access and parking off Fernhill, the Point Dume Headlands, (and associated foot trails), which provides public access and parking from Westward Beach.

As a result of the shopping and office centers and as a further result of "Z traffic" which does not commence or terminate on Point Dume, but which merely uses the Point as a short-cut, including but not limited to traffic leaving Westward Beach contrary to the designated traffic flow, the volume and speed of traffic on Point Dume is at an unacceptably high level.

Crime and potential fire hazards on the Point have also become concerns, particularly as non-residential development has increased, vagrancy has increased, itinerant workers have tended to congregate near Heathercliff and the PCH, and alcohol has been made available for both on-site and off-site consumption, including late into the night.

Point Dume also contains Point Dume Club Mobile Homes on the tip of the Point at the end of Heathercliff. See also the neighborhood of Paradise Cove.

Sources: Information on this page was adapted from the City of Malibu, General Plan, November 1995 and Rick Wallace in the Malibu Times, January 25, 2001.

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