Pavilions is ready to open as residents complain

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The Point Dume Village redesign was conducted without a public hearing process. A Point Dume resident says the changes were significant enough that the process should have taken place.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

The Pavilions at Point Dume Village will open for customers next Wednesday, but some of the locals are not excited about the new grocery store replacing the Cooke’s Family Market that closed two years ago as well as other features of the mall’s redesign by owner Zan Marquis. Point Dume resident Tami Clark told the City Council at Monday’s meeting that she and her neighbors were concerned about various issues.

“We’re frustrated because we [the residents] feel like David versus Goliath in a classic commercial development versus neighborhood situation,” Clark said. “What concerns us is the greatly increased volume of traffic that will be generated by what has and is going into the plaza … and continued developer solicitation of additional high-volume, traffic generating destinations. All this squeezed on to an already seriously under-parked and compromised commercial location, immediately adjacent to residential homes.”

The construction of the Pavilions, which houses a Starbucks, started in November 2006. The 25,000-square-foot structure includes the original Cooke’s building as well as an additional 5,000 square feet of space that was created by the removal of walls from the adjacent buildings formerly containing the pharmacy and Malibu Gymnastics. Additional changes to the mall have included the planting of tall palm trees and other vegetation, the installation of a large fountain in the center, increased lighting and other aesthetic changes. The number of parking spaces has been reduced from 185 to 180, according to the city.

Marquis wrote in an e-mail to The Malibu Times that he might address the perceived parking issue.

“Changing one retail store for another in an existing retail center does not trigger a need to increase parking,” wrote Marquis, who purchased the mall in 2005. “Nevertheless, ownership is exploring options to alleviate the longstanding parking condition, including a possible parking structure.”

Several council members on Monday night said they agreed with Clark’s concern about parking and traffic.

There were never any public hearings on the redesign to the mall because then-City Manager C.J. Amstrup determined in 2006 that the changes to the mall were “tenant improvements,” and all the permits granted to Marquis were processed through the city staff. The Malibu Local Coastal Program requires a property owner to obtain a coastal development permit and go through the public hearing process if the project is determined to create an “intensity of use.” City Planner Stephanie Danner said this week “there’s no real quantitative qualifier” for what is classified as “intensity of use.” Clark said she believes there were significant enough changes made to the mall to require Marquis to obtain a CDP.

The mall is going to use two septic systems, one for the grocery store and another for the rest of the complex. Danner said the grocery store one has not been operating since Cooke’s closed, but will be ready before the store opens. She said there had been reports in recent days of an odor, but that this had been dealt with through a cleaning process.

Marquis has applied for an emergency CDP for the installation of a new septic system for the remainder of the mall. The emergency CDP application is being reviewed by Planning Manager Stacey Rice. If she approves the application, it can be immediately installed. But Marquis must apply for a regular CDP within 90 days. A public hearing before the Planning Commission would take place for this application.

There have been two complaints made during the mall’s redesign, Code Enforcement Officer Lisa Tent said on Tuesday. She said both complaints were “dealt with.” She refused to say what the complaints were, and referred The Times to Environmental and Community Development Director Vic Peterson. He did not return a call for comment on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the space formerly occupied by the Dume Room, which closed in 2006, is still vacant. Marquis wrote in his e-mail that negotiations are underway for its lease, and additional space in the plaza may open up soon.

“Two more ground floor retail spaces will become available during spring and summer 2009, and these present opportunities to bring in some new indoor/outdoor dining venues such as cafes or restaurants, which is the objective,” Marquis wrote.

Marquis added that the plaza might one day become “a quieter, saner version, more tuned to local customers than to tourists” of the Civic Center plazas.

The first 1,000 customers who come to the Pavilions on May 21 will receive re-usable grocery bags. The store will open at 8 a.m.

-Assistant Editor Jonathan Friedman contributed

to this story.