One Malibu council member has suggested changing the name of Malibu to “the exclusive city of Malibu” to conform to the Los Angeles Times’ style book.
Others can only laugh about the worldwide headlines that sprang up like weeds following the latest black eye planted on the city by the world’s press.
Whatever the outcome, Malibu’s latest rewrite of film permit rules has generated another round of negative headlines around the globe.
Malibu, a city of 12,000 permanent residents stretched along 27 miles of prime coastal real estate, hosts more movie shoots than any California city but Los Angeles, which has 3.4 million residents.
Last year, the city issued 700 film permits, or twice as many as Santa Monica’s 350, according to a Malibu city manager’s survey.
Some residents have grown tired of the scene, but it was the complaints of an attorney who represents homeowners who rent their houses out for locations shoots that triggered the last barrage of press attention, said Malibu mayor Andy Stern, an entertainment industry lawyer-turned-real estate agent.
The movie film location rental business can be quite lucrative, with some mansion owners making up to $200,000 in income-tax-free rentals per year, officials said.
But location scouts complained about being hit up for excessive “go away and don’t complain” fees demanded by neighbors, who are only too happy to lap at the gravy bowl, Stern said.
Thus, an ordinance was prepared to regulate neighbors’ concerns and quash adjacent homeowners’ abilities to block shoots. As a concession to homeowners, the maximum number of filming days would be reduced from 16 to 14. At the same time, individual homeowners’ abilities to stymie a film shoot would be severely restricted, something the location scouts were eager to have.
“This was all something about nothing,” scoffed council member Ken Kearsley. “We do more movie shoots per capita than any other city in the world, and that needs to be regulated. There are people here who live in residential zoning who are sick to death of this. I’ve got calls from some constituents who have virtually continuing shooting in their street.”
Enter the Los Angeles Times. Its headline – “Malibu May Tell Filmmakers: ‘Cut!’” got picked up by newspapers around the world.
“Everybody except Doonesbury was making fun of us, again” said one city resident. Doonesbury has just wrapped up another week of strips mocking beachfront homeowner David Geffen for refusing to open a Malibu Beach accessway for more than 20 years.
So, the City Council compromised, and increased the number of permitable film days to 20 per house, increased the adjacent homeowner permission requirement to 100 percent of the houses within 500 feet, but made a disapproving homeowner’s demands subject to review by the Planning commission and City Council if a moviemaker feels they are unfair or excessive.
“Malibu Offers Carrot To Filmmakers” headlined the Times. “If Malibu doesn’t want you, come to us” said neighboring cities like Ventura.“Shoots out in Malibu” cried the Manchester Guardian.