Neighbors battle over views

Sharing paradise is not always easy for longtime Malibu residents who are accustomed to unobstructed views of the ocean.

And the Planning Commission frequently juggles the rights of new owners with those already here.

Demonstrating that dilemma, the commission continued to Oct. 2 a request to build a home with a height of 27 ft. on Cavelleri Road.

They agreed unanimously that the views neighbors enjoy right now might be affected by the proposed home.

Neighbors, concerned that views of the ocean (also known as primary views) and viewsheds of the surrounding mountains would be lost if the commission approved this request, came to oppose the plans of the property owner.

A neighbor who lives directly west of the project said there would be a major loss of privacy and views for the existing homes.

Three other houses surround the flag shaped lot on which the home is proposed. This lot sits above another home and the resident feels this project will have an impact on her privacy.

“From my perspective it is awful,” said the resident, adding the new home, which is designed to have glass from floor to ceiling, might reflect onto her home.

Another neighbor, with a smaller home on a large lot, is concerned because she enjoys using the outdoor area beyond her four square walls. If the project goes forward, she will see this towering home above her property, she said.

“I live there for nature and this will encroach my lifestyle,” she said.

As residents shared their concerns with the commission, Norm Haynie, a developer who attends the meetings regularly, said he neither opposes nor favors this project.

Discussing property rights, he said those rights “are the basic cornerstones of our freedom.”

They are very important and all people must be treated equally, said Haynie as he spoke in front of the commission. He feels homeowners do not own views, thereby neighboring property owners should be allowed to build.

When people built their homes, the height restrictions were up to 35 feet.

“Now they want to prevent the new neighbors from owning a two-story home because the house can be seen and they don’t like the architecture,” he said.

He stated that these neighbors are not allowing the new owners to do the same as they have done; to build on their own property.

Lisa Niles, an architect, said, “This is Malibu architecture all the way.”

At the moment, Malibu does not have architectural standards per se. Neighborhoods can only dictate characteristic guidelines that include bulk and height of homes. But, according to a neighbor, the ultra modern design of this home, which would include a lot of glass, is not a match with the character of the neighborhood.

After hearing the opposition, the commission decided to re-visit the issues of primary view impact and landscape maintenance responsibilities. They also found discrepancies in the staff report.

Chair Ed Lipnick favored going back to revisit the property to clarify the view shed problems.

“Views of the ocean are the most important thing we have,” said Lipnick.

But the style of the house and the fact that it may be a spec house should not be at issue, he added.

In another matter the commission concluded that to preserve the uniqueness of a neighborhood and limit “mansionization” in the city, it should deny the appeal to build a new home on Baden Place.

The owner had appealed a prior decision to deny his project because he did not meet zoning requirements to build a 9,754 square foot home with a guesthouse and tennis court.

The representative for property owner Javad Ahmadian stated that this three-and-a-half acre lot is located in an area that has homes bigger than the one they have planned.

“We’ve tried to comply with all the requirements,” said the representative.

However, a large number of speakers came to oppose the project.

The area currently consists of 2,000 square foot homes and this 10,000 square foot home is not within the guidelines of the neighborhood, they said.

“This huge structure will overly affect us and will impact the ocean views for the entire area,” said a neighbor who opposes the project.

It will also cover a large surface with concrete and cement, cause drainage problems and pollute the ocean with additional run-off when stormy weather arrives, he continued.

The applicant’s representative asked for a continuance so he could attempt to resolve the issues with individual neighbors who had concerns.

But the issue of view blockage was obvious to the commission who told the applicant he could come back with an 18-foot home proposal. In the meantime, the commission agreed with Planning Director Barry Hogan and voted to deny the proposal as presented.

In other business, the commission approved a home on Sea Vista Drive, although they had reservations about adequate water supply in the area. They voted 4 – 1 in favor of the new two-story, 8,154 square foot home.

Members of the commission said the matter of adequate water supply should be brought to city council for review so the issue can be considered before approving building permits in the future.

But water supply issues did not affect the approval of this home. Initially, the approval of the plot plan and variance was continued to give neighbors who were opposed to the project a chance to gather information to back up their opposition.

The next planning commission meeting will take place Oct. 2 at the HRL Auditorium.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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