Now he's backing Measure R, which would require all future commercial development in the city of Malibu over 20,000 square feet to require voter approval. In addition, any new development could not have more than 30 percent set aside for chain stores. This could potentially mean a planned 25,000-square-foot Whole Foods may be on the rocks, though supporters of Measure R say it won't impact the planned store. The proposed law is, however, about controlling growth.
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"Absolutely this is NIMBYism! This is 100 percent NIMBYism," Reiner said. "It's the entire citizenship of Malibu basically saying, 'Not in my backyard.' It's not just a rich person saying, 'Don't put an oil derrick outside my window.'"
"I think that Rob Reiner is a funny guy trying to do the right thing the wrong way," said developer Steve Soboroff, Reiner's main opponent on Measure R, and the man who wants to build that Whole Foods. "Just because someone is funny or a big shot or rich doesn't mean they should go around the process to make law."
By the way, neither Reiner nor Soboroff can vote on Measure R. They're technically not residents of Malibu, though both have property here. However, the caustic, personal nature of the campaign has left residents feeling battered. "You see that?" said Reiner, jokingly pointing to a red mark on his nose. "Steve Soboroff punched me right there in the nose! I'm kidding." Well, sorta.
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Mom-and-pop stores along PCH strongly support the measure. "You look around, and you can see all the brands around now," said Bill Miller, who owns Malibu Kitchen. "I know where Whole Foods has been threatening to come here for years. And if they do, it will probably wipe me out."
Soboroff bristles at chain stores getting a bad name. "To say that someone who works hard to build a business, and once they get to 11 stores becomes the devil, that's absurd," he said. "There's a Subway in Malibu owned by a Malibu resident, advertises in the Malibu paper, supports all the Malibu schools."