Residents voted for incorporation to prevent a sewer system and big development from coming to Malibu.
Twenty years ago this Monday, more than 600 people gathered at the Malibu Park Junior High School auditorium to witness the installation of the first Malibu City Council. It was a joyous event, and the spirits were high. This was the culmination of a long battle that began nearly three decades earlier.
For many years, rural Malibu was ruled by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which governed from a distance in downtown Los Angeles.Â Three times the county brought proposals for sewer system before the Malibu voters in what activists said were attempts to ease the pathway for big development. Local voters rejected each of these proposals. But attempts at creating an independent city of Malibu also failed in 1964 and 1976.
By the late 1980s, the sewer proposal was back, but the threat was stronger. This time, the county did not need the consent of the voters because it had gotten Malibu declared a health hazard. In late 1987, the Malibu Committee for Incorporation was formed, and more than enough signatures to put cityhood on the ballot were collected by early 1988. But the county continued to fight the effort.
The county was unable to stall the process forever. In early 1990, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs ruled an election must happen, and one took place that June. The vote was almost unanimous, with 84 percent of the people choosing cityhood in an election with 67 percent voter turnout.
Still, the county continued to fight, and managed to stall incorporation for almost another 10 months. Malibu finally became a city March 28, 1991. The festive first council meeting took place that day, which was a Thursday. A weekend celebration organized by Joan House (who went on to become Malibu's longest-serving council member, from 1992 to 2004) took place.
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