Michele Reiner and Others File to Intervene in Measure R Case

Michele Reiner

Though Measure R was struck down as illegal in a preliminary ruling by Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles Judge James C. Chalfant in December of last year, the formula retail ordinance saga is far from over, with proponents of the ordinance filing a motion to intervene in the case last week.

Representatives of the proponents of Measure R — namely, Michele Reiner and local activists Carol Moss and Dru Ann Dixon-Jacobson — filed a request on Jan. 14 to intervene in the case, “to represent the interests of the voters who approved Measure R by ensuring appellate review and preserving the status quo during appeal,” according to court documents provided by Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin. These documents include a memorandum outlining the case for Reiner, Moss and Dixon-Jacobson to intervene in the case on behalf of Malibu citizens.

“Although the city has, to date, defended Measure R, the city has not yet decided whether it will appeal the ruling and it may not make a decision until after judgment is final. Intervention may therefore be necessary to perfect an appeal,” the document read. Final judgement is expected during a hearing on Jan. 28.

Hogin, during the Jan. 11 City Council meeting, indicated that it may not be worth the time and money for the city to launch an appeal on the decision rather than working to write a new ordinance to replace the formula retail ordinance struck down by the courts.

“The real thing about Measure R, at least for me as a lawyer, is: What is it trying to achieve and how can we get that for the city?” Hogin told Council.

“The … issue that I ask myself is whether the city has a good enough chance of success on appeal to warrant the extra risk and expenses,” Hogin said. 

Measure R, billed as a formula retail ordinance, included restrictions not only on the number of chain stores allowed in each shopping center, but also required voter-approved specific plans for all commercial centers to be built in Malibu over 30,000 sq. ft., or what Hogin referred to as “large developments.”

It was this requirement that Chalfant called “invalid.”

“Measure R’s restrictions are a condition based on the nature of the owner, not the property, and they are unlawful,” Chalfant wrote in a preliminary judgment on Dec. 15. “The court will issue a declaratory judgment that Measure R is invalid and in injunction preventing the city from enforcing Measure R.”

Reiner, Moss and Dixon-Jacobson, the original proponents of Measure R, also believe an appeal is preferable to a new ordinance penned by the City Council.

“Measure R was borne out of years of frustration that many Malibu residents felt with the City Council’s inability to implement long-term land-use planning for commercial development in the City,” the memorandum stated. 

A similar feeling was expressed by Planning Commissioner John Mazza during public comments following Hogin’s explanation of the judge’s decision at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting.

“It took three years of begging and pleading and protests and petitions and everything for the citizens to finally come up and get tired of this and pass Measure R,” Mazza said. “They have a natural distrust because the day we turned in the petition for Measure R, you passed an ordinance to regulate formula retail. It was totally ineffective.”

The petition to intervene will also come before Chalfant at the Jan. 28 hearing. The City of Malibu has 60 days after the final decision to make an appeal.