Through the grapevine I have learned that several “activists” have been seeking a City Council reconsideration of the approval of our self-storage project. One wonders why these activists by and large did not participate in the public hearing process and only now want some special reconsideration. Our application went through four Planning Commission hearings before it was unanimously approved. During this entire process, there was no opposition from any Malibu resident. The only opposition was one letter from Heal the Bay presented at the fourth and last Planning Commission hearing where the project was unanimously approved. Bob Purvey of the Surfrider Foundation also spoke against the project at the third and last City Council hearing on the variance that was approved that same night.
I have respect for both of these organizations. I have been a member of both for years. As an active surfer, sailor and fisherman, I truly appreciate the principal goals that these organizations are trying to achieve. Had they and the other activists participated in the public hearing process, they may have had a better understanding as to why this project was approved. For their benefit and that of your readers I will cite some of the features we have proposed.
The self-storage project, as approved by the city, would redevelop an existing and unsightly seven-acre equipment and material storage yard on the east side of the Civic Center. Approximately three acres of the site would contain the California Mission-style buildings and driveways. The other four or so acres would be replanted with native trees, shrubs and naturalized grasses. The nearest structure will be over 100 yards from the low-flow channel of Malibu Creek. All driveways will be professionally swept twice each month. All runoff, except for major storm events, from the redeveloped portion of the site will be filtered and then travel through detention basins before it reaches Malibu Creek. Self-storage provides less traffic, noise, wastewater, light and human activity than any other commercial use. The EIR prepared by the city indicates the project provides a net benefit over the existing use. The easement and funds we are proposing to transfer to the city will help establish more wetlands in the Civic Center.
One of the activists encouraged me to convince my family to sell this parcel to the public. My family has already transferred well over half of our Malibu real estate holdings to the state and federal park services. Few, if any, other families could make this statement. In our case, it amounts to over 2,500 acres of Malibu land that we have transferred through sale and donation to the public. This does not include my family’s donation of land to Pepperdine University. We have chosen to retain the subject parcel in perpetuity. Whether or not the Coastal Commission ultimately approves the self-storage project will have no bearing on our decision to keep this parcel.
I am proud that my family has made such a large commitment to the environment and preservation of land in Malibu. The redevelopment of the subject site still fits within this commitment. It is a net benefit to the environment. The majority of the City Council has concluded that this project would actually help increase the amount of wetlands in the Civic Center. The activists may have realized this if they had attended the public hearings.