In the previous post on this series, I gave a short explanation of the civic dynamics of Malibu. Over the next couple of posts I will give examples of how this dynamic has played out in the main controversies during the past 20 odd years.
The Reopening of the Point Dume Elementary School
In 1996, due to the increase in the child population of Malibu, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District decided to reopen the elementary school located in the geographically defined neighborhood of Point Dume.
Most families on the Point logically assumed their children would attend the new facility and could safely walk or ride their bikes to school.
By contrast, a progressive position developed outside the Point Dume neighborhood that saw the school as an opportunity to create a new type of program: a “thematic based” curriculum that focused on marine sciences as the direction for the reopened school. This program would not be a neighborhood school. Rather, all children within the district would be allowed to enter a lottery for one of the coveted slots.
A yearlong fight ensued, pitting neighbor against neighbor.
In the end, the school district decided to allow the thematic program to be instituted, eliminated the lottery, and installed an open enrollment policy that would shift to neighborhood priority should the school ever reach capacity, which it never did. (Enrollment in Malibu elementary schools has declined to a point where rumors of closing the Point Dume school occasionally pop up).
This fight launched several local political careers for proponents of the school, and began to establish Point Dume as a political power base for future politicians and planning commissioners.
In addition, combined with the unsuccessful fight to open several private beach access trails in the area, the spotlight on Point Dume in the mid-nineties created a buzz that attracted several celebrities, from Julia Roberts to Matthew McConaughey to members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
They found that Point Dume was a wonderful, family neighborhood, and its unique configuration and limited access to beaches allowed privacy with limited intrusion from paparazzi and stalkers.
This has led to the design and construction of some of the finest mini-estates in Malibu.
This post is part of a series devoted to the life and work as a Malibu architect. The distinct geography and topography of Malibu, in addition to the customary governmental regulations, affect how an architect will tackle design challenges when building in Malibu. In addition, its unique citizenry that fight to keep the Malibu Way of Life intact, sometimes with opposing views on development, also impact how we build here. With this series, I will address these topics and nuances involved that affect Malibu architecture.
A blog on architectural design, and thoughts and ideas on the process of design, from the unique perspective of a Malibu architect, who must deal with severely restrictive zoning codes.