Malibu Developers Say Streisand-Backed Measure Is Illegal

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A local ordinance backed by actress Barbra Streisand and director Rob Reiner that puts restrictions on new retail stores in Malibu, California, is unconstitutional and should be blocked, real estate developers said in a lawsuit.

Voters in November approved an initiative requiring that commercial developments larger than 20,000 square feet be approved in a city referendum. It was prompted by a development plan to build a 25,000-square-foot Whole Foods market in the beach getaway for billionaires and celebrities. The developers today filed a federal complaint seeking a court order that the measure can’t be enforced.

The law, known as Measure R, “fails the most basic requirement of lawful legislation,” David Waite, a lawyer for the developers, said in a statement announcing the suit. “It is arbitrary, discriminatory and lacks a reasonable and rational relationship to a proper legislative purpose.”

Development restrictions have been popular in California beach cities such as Malibu, 28 miles (45 kilometers) west of downtown Los Angeles, where well-heeled homeowners have sought to use their influence to limit growth. The median price for a home in the 21-mile-long city was $2.09 million in November, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. The median household income is about $136,000.

“Measure R gives residents a stronger voice over the future of our community,” Rob and Michele Reiner, who led the campaign for the initiative and own a home in Malibu but aren’t residents there, said in a statement. “The lawsuit filed today seeks to do the exact opposite by eliminating the voice of local residents and increasing the power of developers. In filing their complaint, the out-of-town opponents of R have confirmed that they do not trust the democratic process or respect the opinion of thousands of residents across Malibu.”

Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin said the municipality would prevail in the case.

“It’s a legitimate gripe that communities have about their commercial centers being turned essentially into anywhere USA with all the same retailers,” Hogin said in a phone interview. “And I think communities have a legitimate interest in developing some unique commercial part of their downtown centers.”

The case is The Park at Cross Creek LLC v. City of Malibu, 15-cv-00033, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).