Appeal for balance

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107

The Malibu Coalition for Slow Growth gave extensive comments opposing the Forge Lodge as designed. The city approval reduced the proposed hotel size from 32 680 sq. ft suites to 28 580 sq. ft suites, and allowed numerous major variances from the zoning code. This minor reduction was an unexpected windfall to the developer as applicants generally expect to have their projects reduced and thus ask for much more than they ever expect to get in the approval process. No one was ever opposed to the Forges’s building an accommodation for overnight visitors. What we did oppose was the total failure to consider, in the design and city approval, the impact of this hotel on the sensitive cultural and natural resources of this extraordinary site. A mere token reduction in size doesn’t guarantee protection of important resources. This hotel, if built as approved, is clearly located too close to Solstice Creek. This creek, which flows all year, is the most pristine creek in Malibu. Except for the Forge property, the creek winds its way through public land to a public beach and a little lagoon where children play. Solstice Creek, an environmentally sensitive habitat area, was especially selected by federal and state government as suitable for the reintroduction of the endangered steelhead trout. The Environmental Impact Report prepared for this project stated that because of the human intrusion from the hotel, over time the creek would not survive. This is because of the hotel’s size and proximity to the creek. No reason was ever revealed to explain why this project couldn’t be redesigned to meet the required 100 ft stream setback and scaled back in size to fit the very small site without variances. Instead of a hotel too massive for its location, a smaller project with a greater setback would have been still profitable for the backers of the hotel. If the Sierra Club is successful in its appeal of the recent court decision, this project will be remanded to the city for reconsideration. It is our hope that the city council will then find the correct balance between property rights and cultural and natural resource preservation. If this is done, the Forges’ investors can have their hotel, the steelhead will swim in the creek and little children will safely play in clean water in the lagoon at the mouth of the creek.

Patt Healy,

Malibu Coalition for Slow Growth