Large development projects and chain stores in Malibu would face additional restrictions under a celebrity-backed measure being put to voters today.
Measure R’s proponents, including Hollywood filmmaker and producer Rob Reiner and actor Dick Van Dyke, say Malibu’s “unique … small-town character” is being threatened by a possible 1.5 million square feet of new development.
The measure would lower the cap on chain stores at shopping centers from the current 45 percent to 30 percent. The restriction would only apply to new shopping centers and those that are outside the Malibu civic center.
The measure would also require voter approval for commercial and mixed-use development projects larger than 20,000 square feet.
Measure R proponents say the measure would not prevent the development of “worthwhile projects, as long as voters approve them,” and the chain store provision would not apply to “essential services,” such as grocery stores, pharmacies, theaters and medical offices.
Opponents of the measure — including developer Steve Soboroff, who also serves on the Los Angeles Police Commission — say the passage of Measure R would make it difficult to attract retailers like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or RadioShack, and could actually drive up the number of chain stores at civic center shopping centers to as much as 83 percent.
At a debate last month, Reiner said he has owned a home in Malibu for 20 years, and lived off-and-on in the city for 15 years before that. During those years, he has seen “this very rural rustic beach community turned into a destination for chain stores — a shopping destination with growing traffic problems.”
“That’s why we desperately need Measure R,” which Reiner said would preserve the city founder’s original mission to protect Malibu’s “rural charm” and to”avoid suburbanization and commercialization.”
Soboroff argued the measure would deprive Malibu residents of needed shopping options such as Whole Foods, while also threatening an existing urgent care center and the city’s only movie theater.
“Malibu is not just a place for the classes, it’s a place for the masses,” Soboroff said.
He said Measure R proponents spent $400,000 on a consultant who gave bad advice, telling Reiner, “you’re a great guy doing the right thing the wrong way.”