Malibu is an incorporated city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population is 12,575. The city of Malibu is a 21-mile strip of Pacific coastline; a beachfront community famous for its warm, sandy beaches, and for being the home of countless movie stars and others associated with the Southern California entertainment industries. Most Malibu residents live within a few hundred yards of Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1), which traverses the city, with some residents living up to a mile away from the beach up narrow canyons; the city is also bounded (more or less) by Topanga Canyon to the east, the Santa Monica Mountains to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south, and Ventura County to the west. Its beaches include Surfrider Beach, Zuma Beach, Malibu State Beach and Topanga State Beach; its local parks include Malibu Bluffs Park (formerly Malibu Bluffs State Park) and the planned Legacy Park, with neighboring parks Malibu Creek State Park, Leo Carillo State Beach and Park, Point Mugu State Park, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and neighboring state beach Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach, that was once part of Old Malibu (before Malibu became a city), and better known as pristine beaches, El Pescador, La Piedra and El Matador.
Malibu was originally settled by the Chumash, Native Americans whose territory extended loosely from the San Joaquin Valley to San Luis Obispo to Malibu, as well as several islands off the southern coast of California. They named it “Humaliwo“ or “the surf sounds loudly.” The city’s name derives from this, as the “Hu” syllable isn’t stressed.
Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo is believed to have moored at Malibu Lagoon, at the mouth of Malibu Creek, to obtain fresh water in 1542. The Spanish presence returned with the California mission system, and the area was part of a 13,000 acre (120 km²) land grant in 1802. That ranch passed intact to Frederick Hastings Rindge in 1891. He and his widow, Rhoda May Rindge, guarded their privacy zealously by hiring guards to evict all trespassers and fighting a lengthy court battle to prevent the building of a Southern Pacific railroad line. Few roads even entered the area before 1929, when the state won another court case and built what is now known as the Pacific Coast Highway. By then May Rindge was forced to subdivide her property and begin selling and leasing lots. The Rindge house, known as the Adamson House (a National Historic Site and California Landmark), is now part of Malibu Creek State Park and is situated between Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Surfrider Beach, beside the Malibu Pier that was originally built for the family yacht.
In 1926, in an effort to avoid selling land to stave off insolvency, Rhoda May Rindge created a small ceramic tile factory. At its height, the Malibu Potteries employed over 100 workers, and produced decorative tiles which furnish many Los Angeles-area public buildings and Beverly Hills residences. The factory, located one-half mile east of the pier, was ravaged by a fire in 1931. Although the factory partially reopened in 1932, it could not recover from the effects of the Great Depression and a steep downturn in Southern California construction projects. A distinct hybrid of Moorish and Arts and crafts designs, Malibu tile is considered highly collectible. Fine examples of the tiles may be seen at the Adamson House and Serra Retreat, a fifty-room mansion that was started in the 1920s as the main Rindge home on a hill overlooking the lagoon. The unfinished building was sold to the Franciscan Order in 1942 and is operated as a retreat facility, Serra Retreat. It burned in the 1970 fire and was rebuilt using many of the original tiles.
Malibu Colony was one of the first areas inhabited after Malibu was opened to the public in 1929 and it is one of Malibu’s most famous districts. It is located along Malibu Road, westward of the Pacific Coast Highway, on the opposite shore of the Malibu Lagoon State Beach and adjacent to the Malibu Bluffs Park (former state park). Initially May Rindge kept control of Malibu Beach, allowing a few wealthy Hollywood stars to build vacation homes. Nearly a decade later, money woes forced Rindge to sell the land, and the Colony was born. Long known as a popular private enclave for wealthy celebrities, the Malibu Colony today is a gated community, with multi-million dollar homes on small lots. The Colony commands breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, affording a spectacular coastline view stretching from Santa Monica to Rancho Palos Verdes to the south (known locally as the Queen’s Necklace and the bluffs of Point Dume to the north.
High technology in Malibu: the first working model of a laser was demonstrated by Dr. Theodore Maiman in 1960 in Malibu at then Hughes Research Laboratory (now known as HRL Laboratories LLC). In the 1990s HRL Laboratories developed the FastScat computer code, for frequency domain algorithms and implementation, recognized as the most accurate code in the world for radar cross-section calculations.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District serves Malibu with three elementary schools: John L. Webster Elementary School (grades K-5, located in central Malibu), Juan Cabrillo Elementary School (grades K-5, located in northwestern Malibu’s Malibu Park district), and Point Dume Elementary School (grades K-5, located in northwestern Malibu’s Pt. Dume district).
Malibu High School (MHS), a nationally-ranked school, provides secondary public education for both middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). MHS is located in the northwestern region of Malibu.
Pepperdine University, a private college affiliated with the Church of Christ, is outside Malibu city limits and is located in central Malibu, north of the Malibu Colony at the intersection of the Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road. Malibu is also served by Santa Monica College, a community college in the neighboring city of Santa Monica to the south, as well as another community college, Moorpark College in the city of Moorpark to the northeast.