The Racist History of Malibu
Frederick Rindge bought the Topanga Malibu Sequit, a 13,316 acre rancho, for $300,000 in 1892. His widow May spent 25 years to keep the state from building what became the Pacific Coast Highway through the land. By the 1930s, May began selling beachfront lots to movie stars and others to pay her taxes. The parcels carried racial restrictions prohibiting people of color from using the beach, like this one:
“[S]aid land . . . shall not be used or occupied . . . by any person not of the white or Caucasian race, except such persons . . . as are engaged . . . in the . . . domestic employment of the owner . . . and said employee shall not be permitted upon the beach . . . for bathing, fishing or recreational purposes.”
Reflecting this history, today Malibu is 89% non-Hispanic white, 6% Hispanic, 3% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1% Black, and 0.2% Native American. Nearly 25% of households have an annual income over $200,000. Los Angeles County is only 31% non-Hispanic white. Only 4% of households have an annual income of $200,000 or more. Malibu has 237.85 acres of parks per thousand residents, compared to .25 acres in Maywood, .66 acres in East L.A., .67 in Lynwood, and .78 in Compton. Those are not typos; the disparities really are that dramatic.
Garcia’s history lesson coincides with the City of Malibu’s decision to sue the California Coastal Commission for approving a host of new public campsites on Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy land. Malibu doesn’t just want to stop the new campsites, they want to prohibit overnight camping on all public lands within the city’s limits. And the fight is bringing out all kinds of crazy:
I can’t think of anything better than watching a bunch of Malibu millionaires square up against a posse of armed, angry, libertarian rednecks demanding 24-hour access to their taxpayer funded public land. Wonder if Malibu residents would have the balls to shout down that opposition?
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