Astroturfing Or Our New Neighbors? No Way To Tell As Pacaso Seeks Malibu Acceptance

Written by on April 13, 2023

The heat has been turned up on Pacaso … the homesharing company that has targeted Malibu as a ripe fruit for the taking.

Pacaso buys luxury houses and spiffs them up … then sells shares in the houses to people who want a vacation house. 

People who live next to them hate them … and those Malibu people poured it on Monday night.


“I live next-door to one. Having eight people live in one house and losing the neighborhood. But we’re also losing a house I could have three kids in the school that we are dying to get kids in the school.”


“In our neighborhood the people that come, they think it’s something where they have to bring all their friends. So every day there’s a different set of friends, there’s multiple cars they don’t pay to maintain our roads. 

“They’re not part of our community, they come and then they leave, and then another set comes and leaves.”


“The real question on this is how badly do we want to ruin Malibu. These are not people who are going to be your neighbors, none of these people are going to be on the CERT team, none of them are going to be in Arson Watch, none of them are going to volunteer to be in a commission.”

Those were Lloyd Ahearn … Howard Rutzke … Scott Ditrick … three recognizable Malibu names. 

People who claimed to be Malibu landowners also spoke Monday night … in favor of Pacaso. 


“It saddens me to hear that the community is somewhat resistant to our stay, because I am a longtime family community person in Malibu. I was engaged on the beaches of Malibu. I’m not spending time with my family in my home, although it’s a partial home, it’s a home to me nevertheless.”


“Malibu has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. I grew up in the valley and every summer we would rent beach houses in Malibu from June until September. 

“And the house that we ended up renting year over year was on Broad Beach Road… really not too far from the house that we … uh … currently are the owners in right now.

“We have tremendous pride in this house and we treat it just as we do our primary residence which is in Los Angeles.


“I’m sitting here with my wife and our two kids are asleep downstairs. 

“And this is a property that we brought that was previously vacant. 

“The prior owner had it as a second home and was hardly ever in the community.  And we are here multiple times a year building memories, we went to Vintage Grocers today and ate at the Brewery.”

Tamara Boozh-wah. [spelled phonetically] … Sid Hersch … Jordan Must … three Malibu property owners … 

Or at least … three people who claim partial ownership of homes in Malibu.  But here’s the problem: We don’t know who those people are.

Stranger things have happened than a big company planting public comments.  They call it astroturfing.   We are not accusing anyone of astroturfing … but then again … we do not know who those people are.

The very nature of Pacaso ownership makes those three people at best parttime Malibu residents … we don’t know them. They’re not registered to vote here. We’ve never seen them at community meetings.

Back to the meeting …  Monday night’s city council meeting … Pacaso company officials showed up to ask that the city not clamp down. 

Purvi Doshi and is a Senior Manager of Public Affairs at Pacaso.


“38% of Malibu homes are non-owner-occupied homes, which means they either sit empty part of the year or are utilized for rental income. Pacaso’s model helps ensures that homes do not sit empty, and that neighborhoods continue to feel like neighborhoods.”

10 Pacaso houses have been sold so far in Malibu … another dozen are up for sale … that’s 48 potential new buyers. 

Malibu’s city council referred the Pacaso matter to the city attorney … for possible legal action against what some claim is an illegal time share operation.

The matter will come back to the city council for possible action this spring. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: After this article was printed on the web, a representative from Pacaso wrote to say that “the Pacaso owners’ names are spelled incorrectly. Despite what is reported, these are regular people, real homeowners in Malibu, just like you and I’d like to respect them and have their names corrected for factual accuracy: Tamara Berges and Syd Hersh.”

That Pacaso statement is not accurate.  The script notes that the names were spelled phonetically.  An Internet search for their supplied names plus the word Malibu returns zero mentions of them as Malibu community members.  

Anonymously buying a fraction of a property does not make one a Malibu community member.  That is exactly the point of the other speakers, who are longtime Malibu people who actually participate in civic life.

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