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Big Stars Band Together In Malibu To Try To Limit The Number Of Large Chain Stores

MALIBU (  —  It's called Measure R, and it's  just been added to the November ballot.

Some big stars in Malibu have joined forces to support the measure to keep large chain stores from going into and taking over Malibu.

Stars like director/actor Rob Reiner are spearheading the measure and backing it financially.

Reiner sat down with KCAL9 political reporter Dave Bryan to discuss the drive also aimed at limiting commercial development.

It's an issue facing many cities around the country, reports Bryan.

"Let's talk about it," says Reiner. "I'm game."

Reiner believes the big chain stores are effectively killing the mom-and-pop stores that give a community its personality.

"There is this idea that you could make Malibu into some kind of shopping destination," the director said, "and you have chain store after chain store. I mean, we are already overrun. And we're hoping we can slow it down to where it doesn't get beyond livable."

The measure calls for voter approval for any development larger than 20,000 square feet.

Measure R would also set a cap on chain stores in shopping centers so no more than 30 percent of tenants in any shopping center could be large, national retail chains. The cap would be higher in five existing shopping centers.

Opponents like Councilman Lou La Monte and activist Paul Gristanti say that while Measure R might be well-intentioned, it is flawed.

"Measure R was written by some lawyers in San Francisco," says La Monte, "with a short cut through Rob Reiner's living room. Ultimately, it [still] gives you a lot more development and more chain stores."

"I think it would do a lot more damage than it fixes," says Grisanti. "I think it will take the city several years of spending tons of money it doesn't have that we could spend on other things like the park across the street."

Bryan reports Measure R has a lot of star power behind it. In addition to Reiner, its backers include Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

But the Malibu city attorney wrote in her impartial analysis that Measure R may be vulnerable to a legal challenge.

Christi Hogin wrote: "Existing shopping centers may increase the number of chain stores, while new ones and those outside the Civic Center are subject to strict limits. This provision may not withstand judicial scrutiny."

Reiner says he is willing to fight city hall on this issue.

"Basically, I'm fighting the city of Malibu here," Reiner said. "You've got the City Council, you've got the city attorney, you've got all these people lining up against us, because quite frankly we wouldn't have had to do this if they did their job."

At the local newspaper, The Malibu Times, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Arnold York says despite the gentle breezes in the town, political debate in Malibu is a contact sport. They're a town of heavyweights on both sides, and both sides like getting their way.

"Nobody here likes coming in second," he says.

Even L.A. Police Comission President Steve Soboroff, who's involved in a Whole Foods development project that would be affected by Measure R, bought a full-page ad in the Times, to disagree with a friend of his who supports Measure R.

Soboroff wrote: "The Reiner initiative is trying to do the right thing, the wrong way."

Bryan said to add to all the drama, he spoke to a lot of voters who said they were undecided on the issue.

A town hall is planned at which both sides can appeal to voters, Bryan reports.

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