Malibu history, opinion and trivia

Twenty-seven miles of scenic beauty? Topanga to Malibu Canyon is 7.2 miles, on to Kanan is another 5.8 miles. From Kanan to Encinal Canyon is 5.3 miles, then to Yerba Buena is 4.6 miles. About 23 miles, really.

You may have noticed the wall fountain at the Point Dume Plaza in the patio outside Subway and D’Amores – but did you know it is dedicated to the memory of Emily Shane, as the plaque beside it describes?

It seems that almost nothing reported in the local papers is a good trend for Malibu anymore.  Almost all the news describes some element of loss of personal freedom and liberty, and more unreasonable government control. For instance, you can’t grow grapes on your own property, even if you pay for the water yourself – are you kidding me? 

Yet, two great developments finally seem to be coming our way, in my opinion: the Whole Foods project thanks to a judge, and an independent school district thanks to Advocates for Malibu Public Schools.

The Point Dume school was opened in 1968.  It closed after 12 years of use. It was a community center and park for 16 years after that, and now it approaches a quick 20 years as a top grade school.

By far, more homes in Malibu watch the sun rise over the water than watch the sun set over the water.

This trivia question was inspired by a reader:  Rank these city hall locations by the farthest north (answer below): Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles (see the end of this article for the answer).

If you love Malibu history at all, you need to see the Eric Weinberg Collection, which can be found online. It’s one of the best collections of early Malibu, and is in matchbook form.  Look at the Pepperdine University archives section of Malibu history and discover the “Eric Wienberg Collection of Malibu Matchbooks and Postcards.”  Do you know what the “Top O’ the Sea” restaurant was? It was one of the first restaurants at the end of the Malibu Pier, in the 1950s. See the matchbook. Among the other dozens of places featured: the original Malibu West Club, The Malibu Outrigger Resort Hotel (now condos at 22548), the infamous Albatross Hotel (on the site between Duke’s and the gas station), Frank Kerwin’s Seacomber restaurant featuring dining and dancing in the Princess Pupuli Lounge (now the site of McDonald’s).

Adamson House tours are back in business; practically the only walking tour of any kind available in Malibu and a worthwhile one. I have often said the most ideal place to stand in all of Malibu is the Adamson House upstairs patio. Among the myriad vistas from that perch: the lagoon, surfers, mountains, coastline, back yard, pier, and Catalina, breathtaking in all its 270-degree glory.

We all agree there are too few restrooms in the Cross Creek area, but you may not be aware there are public restrooms upstairs at the Lumberyard and in the Taverna Tony complex – for use while you shop there, of course.

List of 1999 restaurants that no longer exist:  Charthouse, Something’s Fishy, Georgio, Tutto Bene, Dominoes, Thai Dishes, Johnie’s Pizza, China Den, Pierview, La Salsa, Allegria, Malibu Chicken, Malibu Inn, Guido’s, Xanadu, Pizza Hut, Ben & Jerry’s, Howdy’s, Energia, Granita, Noah’s Bagels, Coogie’s, Beaurivage, Indigo, Gray Whale, Point Dume Chinese, Point Pizza, Paradise Smoothies.

Historians should note that 2005-2015 was a golden age for Malibu. The vast majority of public spaces were modernized. We are finishing a 10-year period of beautiful re-vitalization.  Remember, Malibu had its primary growth period in the 1960s and 1970s. Forty years later, things had worn out. 

A perfect example: The Malibu Animal Hospital has served thousands of our furry pets over these many decades. It has recently gone from an aging mid-century structure to a larger modern, clean facility, run with efficiency and friendliness.

 This one really burns me: Stories of cars going off canyon roads and not being found for days – or maybe years. What could be more horrible?  Not only might a person suffer while trapped in their car as they die at the bottom of a ravine, but their family and friends have no idea their fate for agonizingly long periods of time. If there is one vital expense the road departments should make the top priority for allocation, it should be putting in guardrails at every mountainous location where a vehicle has a reasonable chance of going off the side. Please.

Trivia answer: Beverly Hills has the northernmost city hall location. Downtown Los Angeles is barely north of Malibu. Santa Monica is the most south, but they are all pretty close.

If you are looking for a new place to get in some walking or running, note that the perimeter of Bluffs Park sidewalk, including the perimeter of the parking lot, is exactly one half mile.  

Zuma Beach from Westward to the end is just more than 1.5 miles, and Malibu Road from the Colony to the end is almost exactly 2.5 miles.

The recently-sold Riviera Motel, owned by the Wilcox family (father Wayne was Malibu’s preeminent portrait photographer for four decades), was one of the first motels in Malibu history – but not the first. 

At the time of its opening in the late 1940s, there were two other motels in existence: The Holiday House motel and coffee shop (where current day Geoffrey’s and the gated townhouses sit, presently), and the Malibu Inn Motel. 

The latter was on PCH in the current one-story blue office building almost directly across from Nobu, across the empty lot from the sober house.