The truth about Malibu

Photo credit: Doc Searls

Recently there was an article in the Los Angeles Times hailing Malibu as environmentally friendly for being one of the few California cities to pass a plastic bag ban. But don’t be fooled, Malibu is a serious environmental offender. It’s a little known fact that one of the reasons Malibu became a city was to avoid becoming part of Los Angeles County’s sewer system and to avoid having to pay for the cost of such a practical and environmentally sound modern day convenience.

Malibu residents feared that by becoming linked to the sewer system it would attract rampant development and their cute little town would be over run with crazy condo buildings. Apparently they weren’t familiar with other ways to regulate development such as zoning laws. So in 1991 residents voted for Malibu to become a city and leave behind their long standing association of being an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County.

And what happened? More development came to Malibu anyway and thanks to old septic tanks, Malibu beaches consistently score F ratings for high levels of nasty bacteria. It’s common knowledge within the surfing community that enjoying the perfect wave at famous Surfrider Beach is taking a major risk of getting seriously ill.

After years of allowing raw sewage to enter local waterways, the City of Malibu was finally forced to do the right thing last fall. In November of 2009, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board voted to ban septic systems in central and eastern Malibu. Businesses have until 2015 to hook up to a central wastewater treatment system and residential property owners have until 2019.

Of course the City of Malibu fought this decision tooth and nail. And until 2019, poop is still entering local waterways. So it’s best to wait another decade before swimming anywhere close to Malibu aka Malipoo. Banning plastic bags is great and everything, but shit in the water that’s just wrong.


  1. says

    Caro, every time I’ve gone swimming in Malibu, my sinuses ALWAYS feel weird and gross the next day. Like the Creature from the Black Lagoon has been crawling up my nose. This explains it all! Phooey to you, rich people.

    But seriously. Where are we supposed to go to the beach here in LA? Do we really do have to drive all the way down to San Diego County or far north past Santa Barbara even?

  2. Carolyn Kraft says

    Excellent question Sherrie! For anyone heading to the beach in California, the best thing to do is visit Heal the Bay’s website at and find out the rating of the beach you want to go to. Because why go to an F beach when you could drive another 20 minutes and go to an A beach. And always check the day you go because the ratings are always being updated and change frequently.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *