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Malibu Officially Becomes City

March 29, 1991

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) _ This star-studded enclave of sun, sand and affluence has become Los Angeles County’s 87th city, ending a long struggle to break free from county control.

While residents celebrated cityhood with pomp, ceremony and parties Thursday, Malibu’s new mayor pledged to keep overzealous developers at bay.

″Everyone’s extremely happy, but we’re also a little tired, and we’ve got tremendous work ahead of us,″ said Mayor Walt Keller.

Malibu residents in June overwhelmingly approved incorporation, but the county Board of Supervisors tried to stall the change because of a dispute over a new sewer system.

The board deemed the system necessary to avoid mudslides that result from septic tanks in the hilly canyons. Residents said a new sewer system would lead to unrestricted growth. They successfully sued the board in Superior Court, but that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The supervisors finally gave up the battle last month when they voted unanimously for cityhood, though some expressed hopes the sewer system still would be built.

Keller told about 600 well-wishers Thursday that ″when the state and county governments looked at Malibu, they saw a land ripe for freeways, marinas, power plants and hotels.

″But the residents of Malibu had a different vision,″ he said of the city that claims Johnny Carson, Sylvester Stallone, Cher and others Hollywood stars as residents.

Keller said city officials favor maintaining Malibu’s quiet, semi-rural atmosphere.

With Wednesday being the last day the county could issue permits in Malibu, hundreds had lined up at a county office to get building projects approved. At least 40 applicants were turned away, said Grant Lawseth of the building and safety office.

As further evidence that a crackdown on development is anticipated, permit fees totaling more than $1 million were collected during the last month, 20 times normal, county officials said.

The inauguration of a five-member city council Thursday ended a daylong celebration by many of the 20,000 residents.

Red, white and blue banners stating ″Free at Last″ and ″This is Our City, We Love You″ dangled from poles near the civic center.

Earlier, a Goodyear Blimp passed over the city, flashing messages related to the struggle residents endured to sever Malibu from the county, said Joanne Hause, chairwoman of the cityhood celebration committee.

″The mood is pure jubilation,″ said Ms. House, adding that festivities would continue for several more days.

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