Development deal goes out for EIR

After months of jockeying, the City Council took the predictable way out Monday and decided to send the Malibu Bay Company proposed development agreement out for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). They also decided to send several other larger and looming questions to the November 2000 ballot to let the voters decide.

In November, Malibu voters are not only going to have to pick a new president to run their country, but they’re also going to have to decide from a multitude of options how they want their city governed in the future.


In major action the council decided, not unexpectedly, in a 5 to 0 vote, that the best way to answer many of the questions raised by the opponents of the proposed development deal between the City of Malibu and the Malibu Bay Company, was to hire the experts and have them do the necessary studies to try and cull out the facts from the politics.

The opponents of the project, principally the same people who are pushing the ballot initiative that would take away from the council the final control for the Civic Center land-use decisions and give it directly to the voters, wanted the council to delay the EIR. They charged that the project was ill-defined and not yet ready for an EIR. However, obviously aware that the council was not going to refuse to send it out for an EIR, which, according to Councilmember Jeff Jennings, would have been tantamount to the council killing the project, they had a Plan B.

The plan included a list of many of the things they wanted to see covered in the EIR, principally the overall cumulative impacts of all commercial projects in the Civic Center build-out. City staff indicated that one of the early steps in the EIR process is a public meeting where citizens will have an opportunity to tell EIR consultants what questions they want to see studied in the EIR.

The ballot initiative

In what can only be called a photo finish, the PAC that calls the “Malibu Right to Vote on Development Initiative,” which we call the Segel Initiative, made it onto the November 2000 ballot in a cliffhanger.

The Los Angles County Registrar of Voters completed its verification of the signatures on the initiative petition on Friday. They reported there were 1,741 valid signatures collected, which is 20 percent of the registered voters in Malibu. That meant the PAC had met the statutory requirements for calling a special election and the council was legally required to put the initiative on the next ballot.

Remaining, however, are some undecided legal questions. But the city attorney’s recommendation, which the council followed, was to put the matter onto the ballot anyhow (see accompanying story entitled ‘Legal battle’) and essentially to worry about the legal questions later. In a move, however, that clearly showed the councils feeling about the development initiative, however, they voted 5-0 to delegate two councilmembers, Tom Hasse and Jeff Jennings, the authority to write the opposition to the initiative for the ballot pamphlet if they so chose, and agreed in advance that the signatures of all five council members would go onto the opposition statement to the initiative.

The referendums

The council approved two referendums to also go onto the November 2000 ballot, which the council itself had initiated.

The first referendum approved for the ballot will ask voters if they want the right to approve all commercial development or mixed commercial-residential development of more than 30 acres. If the voters say yes, that means the council would first have to approve the Civic Center project and then send it to the voters, who would give the final word. Although the referendum does not mention the proposed Malibu Bay Company Development deal by name, it is the only parcel that is more than 30 acres in the city, and the referendum the council is proposing is actually a referendum on the deal. Those proposing the initiative argued unsuccessfully against this referendum, charging it would only confuse the voters. But it was clear from the council’s comments that they wanted to offer the voters an alternative to the proposed Segel Initiative. Councilmember Jeff Jennings dissented in the 4 to 1 council vote, arguing that the council was elected to make that decision and not pass it on to the voters. The majority said they had always contemplated the voters would have the final word on the Malibu Bay Company project and, in fact, had made campaign promises to that effect.

In the other council-generated referendum, the council voted 5-0 to put an advisory referendum onto the ballot to ask voters of Malibu if they would be willing to approve a $15 million bond issue, with the assessments to be added to property taxes, to purchase land for public amenities like a park, ball field or a wetlands. Although this is purely advisory, it would give the council some idea if there has been a shift in public sentiment from a poll taken a few years ago that indicated voters were not interested in financing public facilities with a bond issue.

In other action the council:

  • Gave final approval to the Pt. Dume Preserve deal (the Headlands) and chose the option that included a shuttle bus, at an estimated cost to the city of $50,000 per year. It also decided to put 10 parking spots onto the preserve side (oceanside) of the street.
  • Awarded a $58,000 contract for the Morning View Drive sidewalk project and directed the walking surface be changed from concrete to decomposed granite.
  • Approved a revised Interim Code Enforcement Policy relating to written complaints, home occupations, pre-1993 unpermitted structures and extension of compliance deadlines (evictions). They also indicated, informally, that they want the Code Enforcement Task Force to come up with enforcement appeals procedures to be read by a neutral individual or individuals.
  • Decided not to change the municipal election date from April, as the system appears to be working fine since Malibu seems to get much higher voter turnouts in the council elections than just about any other municipality.
  • Appointed community activist and former City Council candidate John Wall as the sixth member of the Flood Mitigation Plan Committee and rejected zero-growth activist Patt Healy for the spot.
  • Approved an RFP for design services to develop plans for a neighborhood park and a 2000 square foot community building on city-owned properties along Las Flores Creek.
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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