Malibu Developers Sue City to Block Rob Reiner’s Measure R

They were warned.

On Monday, a group of Malibu property owners and developers filed a lawsuit in federal court to block Measure R, a controversial law that regulates chain stores in the city, saying the ballot measure violates both federal and state constitutions by discriminating against larger stores to the advantage of small businesses.

Measure R passed with 59 percent of the vote in November’s election. The new regulations would compel residents of Malibu to cast ballots for any development project in the city over 20,000 square feet.

The ballot measure led to a nasty fight in the run-up to the election between proponents, like actor/director Rob Reiner, and opponents, like L.A. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff, as each sought to paint the other as an enemy of the community. The two participated in a debate over the measure in October, a debate Reiner won.

“Measure R fails the most basic requirement of lawful legislation. It is arbitrary, discriminatory, and lacks a reasonable and rational relationship to a proper legislative purpose,” attorney David Waite, who filed the suit on behalf of plaintiffs Park at Cross Creek LLC and Malibu Bay Co., told the Los Angeles Times. “Under the provisions of this misguided measure, developments are no longer subject to any standards other than the whim of the electorate.”

In October’s debate, Soboroff charged that Reiner’s support of Measure R amounted to nimbyism, or “not-in-my-backyard-ism.” Reiner embraced the label.

“This is nimbyism, you bet,” Reiner said at the time. “Everyone that lives here is concerned about their way of life. That’s nimbyism writ large, baby.”

The lawsuit uses Reiner’s own language against him. “Measure R is promoted as ‘nimbyism writ large,'” the suit reads.

“This lawsuit raises fundamental questions about how far a law can go in constraining the rights of a select few property owners,” Soboroff said in a statement, saying developers had “no choice” but to file the lawsuit.

Soboroff warned of lawsuits as far back as the October debate, saying the measure would be subject to invalidation on grounds of being unconstitutional. Reiner is reportedly not worried about the challenge.

“They’re throwing everything at this, including the kitchen sink, and hoping that something sticks,” Reiner told the Times. “We feel confident that we’re on solid footing.”

City attorney Christi Hogin told the paper that the developers should have given the city more time to try find a constitutional way to implement the law.

“There’s no reason to go running into federal court,” Hogin told the Times. “I have never seen a developer happy with the rules as they currently exist… Malibu is on the cutting edge of land-use regulations. We have every intention of implementing the measure in a way that’s constitutional. We think we can pull it off.”

 


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