Hasse, House to negotiate with Malibu Bay Company

Efforts by the City Council to negotiate a development agreement with the Malibu Bay Company were nearly scuttled Monday when Mayor Walt Keller and Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Van Horn retreated from their earlier position in support of the negotiations, prompting Councilman Harry Barovsky to rethink his position as well. But in the face of withering support, a dogged Councilman Tom Hasse kept the planned negotiations afloat, and the council, without the votes of Keller and Van Horn, formed an ad hoc negotiating committee to go forward.

At Monday’s meeting, the council was scheduled to name the two council members who will serve on the committee, but Keller made a motion not to form the committee at all. He said he was “taken by surprise” at the last meeting when the other council members voted to enter into comprehensive negotiations with the Bay Company, rather than limiting negotiations to the company’s Point Dume property, as originally proposed.

“I voted in desperation at the time,” he said.

But Hasse said if the negotiations were limited only to the Point Dume property, the city would not receive enough land to fulfill all its park and open space needs. And the Bay Company, in return, would be permitted to build a large commercial development, possibly larger, he said, than the Malibu Colony Shopping Center.

“Where are you going to put those things that don’t fit on Point Dume?” Hasse asked Keller after his motion against the formation of the committee had failed.

Barovsky proposed as an alternative that Keller or Van Horn serve with Hasse on the ad hoc committee to alleviate any concerns in the community that the council would be too generous in its negotiations with the Bay Company.

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“We don’t want to have the perception that we’re giving away the store,” he said.

But both Keller and Van Horn refused to serve on the committee, which will negotiate privately. Keller said he did not want to act out of the public’s eye. Van Horn said she did not want to undermine efforts by a group of private citizens involved with the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy to secure private funds to purchase vacant land in the city.

In response, Barovsky said that without the symbolic support of the mayor and mayor pro tem, the whole effort is doomed to fail, and he refused to serve on the committee as well

“I’m not going to waste my time on a fool’s errand,” he said.

With that, Hasse, in a deadpan, said to Councilwoman Joan House, “I’m running out of partners, Joan.” House, alluding to tension between herself and Hasse joked, “And I’m your favorite person.”

House agreed to serve on the committee but not before taking issue with Van Horn and Keller. She said she could not understand why the two members of the Land Use Subcommittee would refuse to participate in the process.

“I see unacceptable behavior occurring at the council table . . . that is not productive for the community as a whole,” she said.

Keller said that comprehensive negotiations with the Bay Company may deter the land conservancy from raising funds privately.

But Hasse said while he would support any effort to acquire property through the land conservancy, he did not want to sit back and wait for a private entity, with no land use authority, to raise enough money. “The city of Malibu needs to lead on this front.”

He said if the council made no effort to negotiate with the Bay Company, whose Civic Center project will go before the Planning Commission in the fall, then the city faced new commercial development without any gifts of land for parks.

With Van Horn and Keller remaining steadfast to their new position, the council voted 3-2 to appoint Hasse and House to the ad hoc negotiating committee.

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

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