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Published: Aug. 14, 2013 Updated: Aug. 15, 2013 8:53 a.m.


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Katherine Timpf: Curbing retail chains

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By KATHERINE TIMPF / For the Register

Recently, the Malibu Planning Commission ruled 4-1 that a proposed ordinance to limit the number of chain stores allowed in the city's Civic Center needed further study. Deciding to reevaluate was the right choice. The power to dictate the exact makeup of a local shopping center goes far beyond the scope of city government. This decision could mark a glimmer of hope for free market economics. But how could the Commission propose something so egregious and foolish in the first place? After all, the ordinance was simply sent back for further study not rejected completely. At the conclusion of the meeting, Malibu Planning Commission Chair Jeffrey Jennings said the citizens' arguments for the ordinance represented a sad trend in demonizing big businesses that interfered with economic development. "It's a tragedy, because there are wonderful things being done in the world of commercial retail," Jennings said in the meeting on July 29. "But we're never going to get anything like that in Malibu ... because we are so relentlessly opposed to anything that smacks of commercial development. If you want to have nice things, you have to be able to support it." Mr. Jennings was right and on a larger scale than he may realize. The four-hour debate on the fate of the city's civic center mimics the debate on the role of government in business among politicians on a national scale. Just as politicians like President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren demonize corporations, one Malibu resident after the next expressed their horror at the thought


MCT Illustration

Chain stores

The Malibu Planning Commission, in a 4-1 vote, recommended that the City Council oppose a draft ordinance which would limit the number of chain stores in Malibu's Civil Center. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, members of the Preserve Malibu community coalition walked out of the July 29 meeting and vowed to bring an ordinance to curb commercial chain stores to Malibu voters through a ballot initiative.

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of corporate influence. "We want a landscape free of corporate influences to raise our families," resident June Louks said. But does she realize what she's wishing for? As Mr. Jennings said at the conclusion of the meeting, many "nice things" in Malibu would not be there without big business. Restrictions to limit the success of these businesses would certainly limit the number of "nice things," too.

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Curbing retail chains | malibu, city, meeting - Opinion - The Orange Cou...

Michael Coss, one of the managing partners of Malibu Country Mart, which was demonized repeatedly throughout the meeting, gave examples of how the success of his business allowed him to improve Malibu: Free parking, scenic gardens, a $50,000 contribution toward an upgrade of Pacific Coast Highway, a $250,000 contribution toward the purchase of a park all tangible examples of the "corporate influences" which Louks decried. Another resident, Susan Burger, said she "take[s] [her] life into her own hands 20 times a day" when she drives around the city due to traffic generated by people shopping, and wished she could just ride her horse on the beach in peace. What Ms. Burger may not understand is that the "frightening" amount of traffic she braves to drive her kids to the horse stables signals economic health. Regardless of how much she may want to keep her ritzy community exclusive, the people who support Malibu's businesses help it maintain those very beaches where she rides her horse. The commissioners also had to explain to residents that they weren't sure if they had the right to interfere with commerce in the manner proposed at all. In the end, residents' wistful longing for the Malibu of the past was no argument against the ordinance's obvious problems. Katherine Timpf is a Robert Novak fellow at the Phillips Foundation.

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