This week some thoughts prompted by Malibu’s purchase of three parcels of land, the development of which is promised by City Hall to be explored in a “robust and transparent process.”
Nice catch phrase, as I comment on public radio 99.1 KBU and select websites. But looking over the deformed and unattractive development to date of Malibu, from the perspective of a former architecture and design critic, for the LATimes, among others, I have to be wary. And as a long time resident of Malibu, I have to sadly add, downright distrusting.
So before the usual suspect cast of commercial developers, rapacious, resident realtors, city hall would-be wheeler-dealers and neophyte planners start their back door discussions, an immodest suggestion:
My focus is on two of the three parcels, the nearly 10 acres in the fractured so-called civic center known as the chilli cook-off site, and 18 acres at the entry to Point Dume, at PCH and Heathercliff, know as the Christmas Tree sale site.
Maybe, just maybe, at long last, the timing might be right for Malibu to pursue the development on the sites of much needed, indeed desperately needed, affordable housing, for those who serve us well, and many of our long persevering, seniors.
Developed modestly and tastefully by a non-profit consortium, the parcels could yield several hundred plus low rise apartments in an attractive landscaped setting.
It is time in particular to provide housing options for our public school employees, some who commute several exhausting hours a day because they love working here, which is reflected in the quality of education. Nice.
And with Malibu hopefully soon to establish it own public school district, the housing could be a real bonus attracting the best teachers, some of whom have shied away from Malibu because of the prices here and the commute.
The same goes for our first responders, who would make great neighbors, especially given the disasters Malibu is so prone to, and the worrisome recent rise in petty crime. Schools could use their kids, too.
And Malibu definitely has a need for affordable senior housing. As heard in the debate over the Airbnbs recently, many elderly residents must rent out rooms regularly to make ends meet, and so be able to stay in the Malibu where they have lived most of their lives and love. And we love them!
With senior housing available, they will have the option to sell and still stay, which would be windfall for them and many of our realtors. They’ll also be in walking distance to shops, which will be good for our frail community-serving businesses. And there’ll be less commuter traffic.
Finally, pursuing affordable housing could begin to refute the city’s reputation as a selfish, spoiled community, which true or not, emboldens rogue bureaucracies like the MRCA and Coastal Commission to ignore legitimate local concerns.
Meanwhile, I wonder what the five city council candidates have to say. Keep tuned.