Malibu Complete GENERAL DEVELOPMENT DURING 1970-1991

General Development of Malibu, 1970 to 1991

In 1970 the Malibu Civic Center Complex opened in the previously undeveloped Malibu Creek flood plain area, part of rapid development at that time of commercial, residential and government facilities in Malibu.
In 1970 the Malibu Civic Center Complex opened in the previously undeveloped Malibu Creek flood plain area, part of rapid development at that time of commercial, residential and government facilities in Malibu.

Malibu Development in the 1970s

Malibu's rapid growth of the preceeding decades continued into the 1970s, helped along by the 1970 opening of Kanan-Dume Road near Pt. Dume, making western Malibu more accessible. On Cavalleri Road, just west of Kanan-Dume, a large complex of condominiums was constructed in 1975. As the housing stock and population grew, commercial development grew with it. Pt. Dume Plaza at Heathercliff Road opened in 1970, a commercial island in an as yet undeveloped neighborhood with the Lutheran Church (now the Malibu Stage Co.) across PCH and a few widely spaced houses the only buildings in view. In 1972, Neptune's Net opened on PCH at County Line, far out west and pretty much alone.

Writer Joan Didion lived on the ocean side of PCH, just beyond Decker Canyon, from 1971-1979 with her husband and child. In her biography, she recalled buying groceries at the old Trancas market, and being able to leave a package or a message for a neighbor at the Gulf gas station at Heathercliff and PCH. Broad Beach was still considered a quiet alternative to the Colony off Malibu Lagoon. Didion's daughter attended fourth grade at Point Dume Elementary School before low enrollment converted it into the Point Dume Community Center in 1980 (since reopened as the Point Dume Marine Science Elementary). Malibu's school population reached 1000 only in 1990.

At the center of town, near Malibu Creek, a few commercial buildings and a motel had been established in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The first buildings of Cross Creek Plaza were built in 1970 with Swenson's Ice Cream one of the first occupants (later Ben & Jerry's until the 2005 fire). When Fred Segal's Malibu Country Mart (not its name at the time) revamped the motel and opened its first building in 1975, Jackie Robbins' "Leather Waves" was it's first tenant. Another Malibu tradition, the Artifac Tree donation center and thrift shop, opened in 1970 as a Lions Club project by Agnes Marie "Honey" Coatsworth, to help those who had lost all their possessions the 1970 brushfire. They continue to serve Malibu, especially when disasters such as fire, flood or earthquake strike.

While in recent years Malibu has around 100 restaurants, according to Rick Wallace the 1970 Chamber of Commerce directory listed only seven Malibu restaurants:

  • Cardi's in the PierView complex (later where Allegria is today)
  • Colony Coffee Shop at PCH and Webb Way(now the Colony Plaza parking lot)
  • The Malibu Inn across from the pier (still there)
  • Sea Lion at Las Flores (now Duke's)
  • Tonga Lei at 22878 PCH (later Don the Beachcomber, now Malibu Beach Inn)
  • Trancas Restaurant (originally Malibu Trading Post, later Borderline, now stores)
  • King-a-burger-wow (now La Salsa)

Moonshadows at 20356 PCH and Alice's Restaurant on the pier both opened in 1972.

In 1972, the real estate market was stalled due to high interest rates and inflation. One Carbon Beach house sold for $140,000, somewhat below today's prices. In 1976, Cali Camp, a day camp in Topanga Canyon, was established by former schoolteacher Saul Rowen on a property known as Big Rock Ranch.

New traffic signals in the 1970s, listed by Rick Wallace, included:

  • April 1971: Pepperdine, new intersection with Malibu Cyn Road
  • February 1972: Big Rock
  • April 1972: Heathercliff
  • January 1974: Cross Creek
  • April 1974: John Tyler Drive
  • May 1974: Kanan-Dume Road
  • December 1978: Morning View

Other changes in the 1970s:

  • In 1974, the US Army Nike base in the hills at Rambla Pacifico and Las Flores Canyon Road, there since 1954, was closed. It survives today as the fire station at that intersection.
  • The Malibu Racquet Club was constructed in 1974.
  • The Nail Box, a thriving manicure salon moved to Malibu in 1978 by Kathleen Alice Wellman, Monte Nido resident.
  • In 1978 Dr. James McPherson, Amado & Maria Vazquez moved their Zuma Canyon Orchids, founded in 1971, to Bonsall Drive, replacing the old Freed Nursery that was set up in 1954 by famed orchid grower Hans Gubler for Hugo Freed (brother of movie producer Arthur Freed).

Malibu Growth and Development Continued through the 1980s

New traffic signals in the 1980s

  • February 1987: Paradise Cove signal was installed
  • December 1987: McDonalds, Busch Realty
  • December 1987: Carbon Canyon.

On November 7, 1987, actress Ali MacGraw and her group of investor-friends opened the Spanish cuisine Malibu Adobe restaurant in the Malibu Coutnry Mart with Jeffrey Starr as Executive Chef. The interior was decorated by MacGraw, and her celebrity partners reportedly included Dustin Hoffman, Tony Danza, Bob Newhart, Stacy Keach, Alan Ladd Jr., and Randy Quaid. On opening night, Kirstie Alley, Joan Collins, Billy Crystal, Bruce Dern, Larry Hagman and 300 other celebrity guests showed up. For a few years it was a favorite A-list hang out in Malibu, but it closed and was replaced by Taverna Tony's which continues to attract the glitterati.

Durng the decade, new office buildings were built along PCH in the Carbon Beach area, to near the pier. One of the last to open, in 1989, was Malibu Pointe Business Centre, just west of Zuma Jays, at 22809 PCH.

More than buildings were developed as Malibu grew. The Malibu Hills Vineyards were established in 1987 on 850 acres in Newton Canyon, a 1,630-foot ridge that creates a unique microclimate.

As an indication of growing evironmental concerns, the Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation opened in 1984.

Further steps on the Path to Cityhood

Although the cityhood election on January 7, 1964 failed, the drive toward that goal did not. There were two attempts during the 1970s to create a City of Malibu, one in 1971 that could not even get on the ballot and a second one, in 1976 that went to an election but failed to pass by 104 votes. The passage of California Proposition 13 on June 6th, 1978 -- supported by nearly two-thirds of California's voters -- restructured property taxes in the state and eased the tax burden on property owners. This removed one of the objections to a City of Malibu, fears that the city would raise property taxes to pay for local improvements.

In the 1980s the fears of overdevelopment and resentment in Malibu of government far away in Los Angeles, renewed the drive toward a City of Malibu. A galvanizing issue at the end of the 1980s was a County of Los Angeles plan to build a large sewer system in Malibu, an "improvement" that would surely lead to higher density development. Finally, in 1990 the issue came to antoher ballot and this time the mesure passed -- Malibu would be finally be an independant City. March 28, 1991 was designated as Malibu incorporation date

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