Draft Retail Diversification Ordinance Resurfaces

Following nearly seven months of research, Malibu city staff outlines two separate ordinances that seeks to preserve the character of the city's commercial development.

Two possible ordinances that seek to limit chain stores as part of an effort to preserve Malibu-owned businesses have emerged in research compiled by city staff over the past several months.

The first, known as the diversification proposal, seeks to regulate the percentage of retail outlets that can be chain stores within a shopping center. The second option, identified as the formula retail ordinance, would call for a ban or quota on chain businesses or specifications on how they can operate.

In March, the Malibu City Council directed city staff to draft a retail diversification ordinance as part of an effort to address residents' concerns, including maintaining Malibu's character in existing and planned development in the Civic Center and Trancas areas.

According to legal analysis dated Oct. 23, City Attorney Christi Hogin wrote that the city's zoning code allows the city to regulate aesthetics, density and other issues such as parking and noise at commercial centers. Hogin said both the federal and state constitutions protect the rights of property owners to bring in tenants to make a profit.

"The government may regulate the use of property for the public good to enforce aesthetic objectives and maintain community character," according to Hogin.

The council is expected to consider which ordinance it should pursue at its Nov. 13 meeting at Malibu City Hall.

Draft Commercial Diversification Ordinance

The draft commercial diversification ordinance would apply to shopping centers more than 10,000 square feet and with 10 or more tenant spaces.

The proposal calls for "maximum percentages" for five categories to ensure a diversity of businesses. Those categories are food and service; hard goods (such as books and jewelry); soft goods (such as clothing); retail service other than food; and businesses with more than 10 locations (known as chain or formula businesses).

Under the proposal, the centers would only be allowed to bring in a maximum of 20 percent of chain businesses, and 30 percent of the other types. The draft ordinance exempts banks, movie theaters and anchor tenants. However, the proposal would limit the centers from having no more than two anchors, according to the report. 

The ordinance would be implemented through a "use diversification permit," which would be required on all new commercial use at regulated centers, the report states.

Second option

The second option, known as the formula retail ordinance, would seek to limit businesses in the Civic Center with more than 10 locations worldwide. The draft also has an option to expand its reach to Trancas, Point Dume or across the entire city.

According to Hogin, an unchecked number of chain businesses "is widely regarded as destructive to unique community identity and ambiance." The businesses also draw complaints about driving up of the cost of leased commercial space, which is known to drive out local, independently owned businesses.

Similar ordinances have been enacted in other cities, including in Solvang, which has banned chain businesses in its downtown village area, where its ambiance has gained world recognition for its Danish architecture.

To go down this road, the council would first have to determine whether Malibu has a "cohesive character."

Save Point Pizza

In response to the draft ordinance, members of the Save Point Pizza group submitted a petition with 1,024 signatures supporting the local business. The petition has been circulating online and at two previous rallies protesting the upcoming closure of Point Pizza in December. A third rally is set for later this week, where organizers plan to gather more signatures.

Point Dume Village owner Zan Marquis said previously he opted not to extend Point Pizza's lease and to bring in D'Amore's Famous Pizza. 

D'Amore's has several locations throughout Southern California, including one already in Malibu that will remain open, and another in Las Vegas. The opening at the Point Dume Village will mark D'Amore's 10th location.

Protesters have said the ordinance, if applied to the Point Dume Village, would have required Marquis to seek a permit to bring in D'Amore's or another chain, and would have allowed the public to give input. 

A third rally protesting the closure is set for 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 at Point Pizza, according to organizers.


In response to the draft ordinance, attorney David Waite, who is representing several commercial property owners in Malibu, submitted several documents to the city, including a retail market analysis of Malibu.

At a public hearing in March, two Malibu shopping center owners, Zan Marquis and Matt Khoury, spoke out against the possibility of an ordinance.

Marquis, who owns the Point Dume Village on Heathercliff Road at PCH, said Malibu already has a difficult permit process.

"It would dramatically increase the building vacancies in Malibu," Marquis said. "What happens when a merchant vacates a space? Does it just sit vacant until a user that matches what the city wants occupies that vacancy?"

Khoury, who is the majority owner of the Malibu Village shopping center on Cross Creek Road at PCH, said by implementing a diversification ordinance, local business owners in Malibu would be adversely affected.

"Please don’t implement some diversification ordinance," Khoury said. "It's really going to hurt the people you’re trying to save."

Lester Tobias November 05, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I assume the staff report identifies all built and proposed projects that would be affected. Also, does it identify all parcels whose F.A.R. would put them under the ordinance's jurisdiction based on buildout?
V.P.A. November 05, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Do the Malibu Residents want to preserve what is remotely left of the rural place it used to be? The small stores, some selling local produce & fairly locally made goods also retailers who sell things peculiar to the Malibu resident's every day, ordinary needs.? I am certainly in favour of the second option if it's what I think it is!! Well done Solvang, preserving their town. It's a pleasure to see. Malibu, a place of Nature, Ocean, surfing. wildlife, ranches, vineyards, agriculture The surroundings need to reflect that so am glad to hear the Council has control. although don't think they exercised much aesthetic judgement in the Cross Creek area around the Cinema now resembling a load of small prefabricated warehouses with occasionally piped in music to really jar the nerves, no longer being able to bathe in the peace & joy of the surrounding mountains & creek while shopping, Perhaps with the second option we can find things we now have to travel miles to buy. Currently, Glitz for Glitz-sake far outweighs the balance. Having a real say in our Community fantastic.. Not putting up with institutions with no vested interest in the area other than making a profit for, themselves & in some instances, stockholders, who care less about the communities in which their companies operate. In any event, this recession needs local businesses run by locals to stimulate the economy, locally throughout the nation.
Saltwater November 05, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Solvang, srsly? You hold Solvang up as an example? With all of its charm, Solvang (I assume you're talking about the uptown part) is really just a Scandinavian themed tourist trap-shopping mall for overweight middle aged women.
V.P.A. November 05, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Saltwater, True. I haven't been there in years & years but at least it , the uptown part, hasn't fallen victim to the shopping mall, strip mall ethos & architecture. As you say, & I have no reason to doubt you, it attracts tourists, of a certain age & weight, nevertheless they bring in revenue to the local community. By the same token,Malibu doesn't, therefore, need an over indulgence of what, in fact, is sometimes very ordinary, mass produced (mostly in China), very expensive Glitz that one can buy anywhere in the world ( in most department stores & at most Airports,) in order to bring in revenue for the Community. We have the attraction of outstanding natural beauty & the opportunities they provide for activities. Local small businesses also give an aura of hospitality. People feel they are participating in the local way of life,. That is different & attractive!! Don't think the majority of Malibu visitors will suffer from excessive girth or be restricted to one age group, there's too much associated with physical activity, of a fun also a contemplative nature, to offer!1 The species you refer to would probably, in any event, prefer Santa Monica & rest assured, are unlikely to descend from our mountains in hordes, menacingly waving their shoppers,
Terry November 06, 2012 at 01:24 AM
i shop at ralphs, i shop at pavillions, i shop at cvs, i shop at subway, i bank at wells fargo and b of a. thats 90 per cent of here i shop in malibu. i eat at sunset, sunlife and coogies. some r chains and some or local. so what.


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