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This summer, a Malibu breach scene

Neighbors are weary of B-list parties tied to corporate promotions. One big bash is said to have lasted 22 hours.

August 25, 2007|Bob Pool | Times Staff Writer

The summer beach party scene could be coming to an end in Malibu for a brigade of Hollywood B-listers like Sean Stewart, Jonathan Silverman and Nicky Hilton.

And not just because summer is almost over.

Malibu leaders are rolling up the welcome mats at three corporate-financed celebrity party houses that regular beach residents complain have clogged streets, created noise problems and caused paparazzi to swarm over the sand.

"We've had 26 parties at the house next to us. About half of them have been major, major parties with hundreds of people. It's almost been like a takeover," said resident Renny Shapiro. "We had to cancel many activities we planned for the summer."

Shapiro lives on Malibu Beach, next to what is now known internationally as the Polaroid Beach House. A few houses in the other direction is the LG Beach House. Nearby Carbon Beach has been home this summer to the Silver Spoon Beach House.

The companies rented the mansions from their owners for the summer and are using them to promote products by linking them to hot young celebrities. And the celebs seem more than happy to indulge themselves with free food, drinks and gifts -- and indulge paparazzi by showing off their tans and bikinis.

Marketing companies get an elite beach-side venue to show off -- and have celebs photographed next to -- their latest flat-screen TVs, jewelry and other products.

The resulting photos and videos of the young and the beautiful partying have appeared in magazines, on television and on show business gossip blogs around the world.

There's Paris Hilton relaxing on an oversize beach pillow with her tiny dog, Cinderella. Carmen Electra ceremoniously removing her wrap to capture some rays near the surf's edge. Jason Davis (grandson of former studio boss Marvin Davis) walking out of a beach house, tanning lotion spread on his stomach in the outline of a happy face. A bevy of underwear-clad beauties, their faces obscured by flying goose-down feathers as they engage in a wild pillow fight inside a living room.

But behind the scenes, city officials contend, there are noise, illegally parked cars blocking driveways and fire hydrants, and seemingly nonstop action.

One party at the Polaroid house -- the one at which the models had their pillow fight -- is said to have lasted 22 hours. And residents say organizers had to borrow a neighbor's vacuum to clean up the feathers. After things were tidy, guests returned to the living room for a 1:30 a.m. round of karaoke, neighbors said.

Beach house operators dispute that their parties are a public problem. They argue they are following the law and that residents are exaggerating the nuisance factor.

"I think a lot of the residents on the beach are making themselves so worked up that they're not looking at the big picture," said Jessica Meisel, whose marketing firm, Fingerprint Communications, runs the Polaroid Beach House. "We never had one police officer come to the house the entire summer."

Nonetheless, city officials are drawing up an ordinance that would limit corporate beach house operations in the future.

Writing the ordinance will be a delicate matter, in large part because many Malibu homes are -- as the real estate agents like to say -- "an entertainer's dream," with ocean views, infinity pools and sprawling grounds. And many full-time residents do like to party.

The goal is to regulate corporate gatherings while still allowing boisterous weddings, summer barbecues, bar mitzvahs and sweet-16 parties.

"We don't want to infringe on personal rights" of residents, Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen said.

At City Hall, at least, there is widespread agreement that the "houses" are out of control. That's in contrast to last year, when inaugural beach houses were operated on a smaller scale.

"It's awful. It's the constant day-in and day-out intrusion by a rude group of people," Malibu City Councilman Andy Stern said. "The valets, the drunk people on the beach, people crossing private property. The daily barrage and noise has just worn people down."

For a while, beachfront residents looked the other way. When the parties began increasing in frequency, they started complaining to city officials.

"There's constant parking activity, constant paparazzi, trash piling up. They're simply running a commercial enterprise in a residential area," Stern said of the three houses operated by marketing firms.

The houses are expected to close down by Labor Day, when their lease agreements are up and the summer season is considered over.

The relatively temporary nature of the houses has stymied Malibu officials' attempts to shut them down. The procedure for investigating and prosecuting alleged zoning code violations is clunky and slow.

"By the time we get to code enforcement, they're out of there," Stern said of the partyers.

Beach house operators suggest that their parties have been a plus for the city.

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