Rebuilding Malibu after the Woolsey Fire


Photo by Gabrielle Renteria- Reporter

One year since Woolsey: Local organizations set up booths by Zuma Beach in Malibu to recognize the anniversary of the Woolsey Fire.

Gabrielle Renteria, Reporter

Last year, the Woolsey Fire burned through communities  including Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Malibu. As the fire raged, it burned nearly 100,000 acres and destroyed 1,643 buildings. At the one year mark, residents of Malibu gathered at Zuma Beach on Saturday, Nov. 9 to share their progress on rebuilding.

“This is the biggest disaster in the history of Malibu, and it’s been a really hard year,” Malibu Mayor Karen Farrer said. 

The Community Services department of the City of Malibu worked with local vendors and community staples to host this event, which featured booths lined through Lot 8 of Zuma Beach. Booths featured community building activities, refreshments and native tree saplings so residents could start replenishing vegetation. 

“Over the past year, we have been really adamant about making sure that we really get the community involved in rebuilding,” said Jasmine Garlington, a City of Malibu employee.

Community Services Recreation Supervisor and California Lutheran University alum Katie Gallo helped organize the event. 

“I think it’s been so positive and people have been so eager to share their stories. It’s been amazing to see,” Gallo said. 

The booths also included local restaurants and organizations that wanted to get involved in rebuilding. Malibu’s Community Emergency Response Team was present at the event, giving out hand crank radios so residents could have a little peace of mind in any future emergency.

“I still can’t believe it’s been a year, but it was so kind of the city to put this on for us. It reminded us all that we’re moving past it,” said Leanne Lee, a city of Malibu resident.

The event also featured live entertainment put on by residents of the city, including a poetry reading by Malibu Poet Laureate Ellen Reich, a performance from the Malibu High School choir and a musical performance from Brandon Jenner.

Personal testimonials from affected Malibu community members were also shared.

Farrer said Malibu is doing everything in its power to help its residents bounce back from the fires. While this event was hosted and paid for by the city as a reminder of the progress made toward rebuilding, it was also a reminder of all the work that still needs to be done. 

“We are committed to helping people get what they need to get back to their properties,” Farrer said. 

Farrer said it is important to discuss the devastation that still affects the community. Although Malibu is seen as a home to millionaires, there are many people living in the city who do not have the means of their famous neighbors. 

“This is not some celebrity, billionaire bubble. This is a community of people with the same struggles as everywhere else, and a huge spectrum of financial means,” Farrer said.

According to the City of Malibu website, no houses have been fully rebuilt yet. A total of 34 building permits have been issued, and 178 projects have been approved.