THE HISTORY OF BIG ROCK MESAS

  

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish explorers, the coastal areas of California from Malibu to San Luis Obispo were the lands of the Chumash, native Americans who built villages in favorable locations including "Humaliwo" village near the lagoon at the mouth of what is now Malibu Creek.


A grant was issued  in 1805, with the name Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit, possibly the first recorded use of the name Malibu, by  President Ulysses S. Grant  to Henry Keller. All later deeds to Malibu real estate are traceable to "the land of Matthew Keller in the Topanga Malibu Sequit."


In 1892 Frederick Hastings Rindge and May Knight Rindge purchased the 13,330-acre tract from Henry Keller's son Matthew. They later expanded the ranch to 17,000 acres, buying up the holdings of homesteaders with adjacent property. 


Most of the Big Rock  area was purchased in 1936 by William Randolph Hearst, who considered building an estate on the property. He sold the lower half of his holdings there in 1944 to Art Jones. He was also the owner/part-owner of the Malibu Inn, Malibu Trading Post and the Big Rock Beach Cafe (which is now Moonshadows restaurant). Philiip McAnany purchased 80 acres  in the upper Big Rock area, and had two cabins built there. McAnany Way is named after him.


Jones sold a chunk of the upper Big Rock area to Pierce Sherman, a realtor from Pacific Palisades. Sherman graded upper Big Rock Drive, Rockcroft Drive, Seaboard Road,  Rockpoint Way,  Little Rock Way, Cool Oak Way, McAnany  Way, Whitecap Way, and Pinnacle Way, and subdivided. All this was before the County had a grading ordinance which, it turns out, became kind of important.  Jones kept the lower part of the mesa, as his ranch.


Big Rock was named after the big rock just off the beach at the bottom of Big Rock Drive.


November 11, 1947 The Big Rock Mesas Property Owners Association was Incorporated. 


 Later, In 1959, the lower mesa , Inland Lane, new Seaboard Road, Piedra Chica Drive, Seamoor Drive,  Royalstone Drive, was developed.


In 1966, slope failures began to occur in the sea cliff below Inland Lane and eventually involved all of the terrace and part of the upper Big Rock area as well to become, finally, the Big Rock Mesa landslide. County Improvement District 2629R was formed, 20 year bonds were issued, and  the construction of dewatering facilities began. Later the City of Malibu created Assessment District 98-1 to maintain these facilities.


In 1977, BRMPOA filed a lawsuit against a planned subdivision,  Bel Mar Estates.  They proposed  a subdivision: Phase I : 174 residential lots on 551 acres.  Phase II: 168 residential lots on 886 acres. Proposed a 1 mile road at 15% grade up through Piedra Gorda  Canyon ( canyon at the bottom of Big Rock Drive). Our Association  won the suit and the subdivision was abandoned.  This area is now owned by Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy and therefore a protected area.


A wild fire in 1993 destroyed 50 homes in Big Rock. 

Downloads

RECAP OF THE 1993 BIG ROCK WILDFIRE

BigRock Fire History 1993 (pdf)

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Downloads

HISTORY OF WILDFIRES IN THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS

Woosley Fire 2019 (pdf)

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