At the City Council Quarterly meeting residents request right to trim neighbor’s trees to protect views. City budget is reported on target. City attorney reports several legal battles won.
By Sylvie Belmond/Special to The Malibu Times
Malibu residents came out in force at the City Council quarterly meeting on Oct. 30 to push the idea of an ordinance relating to trees that block view sheds. The residents proposed that Malibu should allow property owners whose view sheds are blocked by a neighbor’s tree to pay for the trimming or removal of the offending tree.
However, some are concerned that the value of a property with views would be diminished if a neighbor would be allowed to cut down trees on that property.
This type of ordinance is already implemented in other cities such as Palos Verdes, the speakers noted.
Under the proposed ordinance, similar to Palos Verdes’, a special board would decide how much a tree needs to be trimmed, and if it needs to be trimmed. The person whose view is blocked by the tree would pay for the initial trimming, but the tree owner would pay later maintenance trimming.
But the actual tree removal or trimming procedure needs to be done by a tree trimming service and logistics can become complicated, said Councilmember Sharon Barovsky, in a later interview.
“People get passionate about their views,” she said, noting the number of people present to press the matter.
In the end, however, the council will need to look at all the possible ramifications of this option before it can act on the idea. The city is concerned about possible costs and enforcement measurements. The city suggested overlay district areas be designated, so separate rules can be implemented by those districts.
Continuing amendments to LCP
The City Council discussed adding amendments to the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) that was certified by the California Coastal Commission in September, even though the city filed two lawsuits challenging the LCP only last week (see Coastal permit processing story, A1).
Although the Coastal Commission did make some changes to reflect a few of the city’s needs before it finalized the LCP, Malibu still hopes to add amendments to the plan so it is more in line with the city’s policies.
While it is in litigation and the permitting process is in limbo, the council is also working on a permanent zoning ordinance, which emphasizes simplification of the planning process, especially for single-family residential zones.
As it talked planning issues, the council also heard from a group of residents who came to present their ideas about a view shed protection ordinance that the city wants to adopt.
Pedestrian friendly projects in the works
While the City Council was working on a cul-de sac idea for Civic Center Way near Winter Canyon Road to enhance safety for school children in the area, the concept encountered a roadblock.
Many motorists use Civic Center Way as a shortcut from Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Canyon Road. The road is the only access way to Winter Canyon where there are two schools and clusters of residences. The city was hoping traffic safety concerns could be alleviated and parking options be increased if a cul-de-sac was built, blocking through traffic to Malibu Canyon. Previously, the council wanted to try out the idea by placing temporary barriers to see how it would work.
However, the trial period will now be put on hold because the Malibu Bay Company Development Agreement does not address the cul-de-sac possibility.
Another traffic safety mitigation measure was proposed for Morning View Drive, at Malibu High School where the city plans to put in a walk path near the school to make the area safer for pedestrians, especially during peak school hours.
City wins some legal battles
City Attorney Christi Hogin was not at the quarterly meeting, however, a later interview revealed the city prevailed in a case against singer/actress Cher who wanted to increase the height of a wall in front of her property on an ocean bluff off Pacific Coast Highway, overlooking Malibu Road. The battle to increase the height of walls on the singer’s property has been ongoing for several years, and the Planning Commission has repeatedly denied the singer’s request for variances to increase the height. Previously, a request was made on Cher’s behalf for privacy concerns. The most recent request was made for “safety” concerns, to prevent tennis balls from flying out onto PCH.
The city also knocked out a suit composed of eight causes of actions filed by Taxpayers of Livable Community (TLC). The lawsuit was filed by TLC, accusing the city of not abiding with the Brown Act, which requires public access to local government meetings and requires public officials to let the public speak.
TLC has two other cases pending.
A brief description and current status of all Malibu cases is available on Hogin’s website at Localgovlaw.com.
Healthy budget, so far
Fiscally, this quarter, which covers July, August and September for the fiscal year of 2002-2003, reflected the city’s general fund revenues amounted to $2,389,342 or 17.9 percent of the annual budgeted amount.
“Revenues are on target with annual projections, except for the building safety revenues, which exceeded budgeted amounts for this period,” states the report.
Expenditures totaled $2,318,957, or 18 percent of the annual budget, and all budgets are within or below annual projections. The general fund balance at this time is $7.3 million.
New parks for Malibu on the way
City staff is preparing a request for proposal for a more thorough study of the hydrology and biology at the site of the proposed Las Flores Creek Park. This detailed work will cover items that should be done before the design of the park and the creek restoration can be completed.
Once the studies are completed, the city will apply for another grant to fund the project. Although Malibu already received a $550, 000 grant from an urban streams program to fund the studies, it still needs additional funds to complete the process.
The city also received a per capita grant of $155,000 from Proposition 12. It plans to use that money for Trancas Park. Prop 12 funds were given to every city based on the number of residents they have. The Department of Parks and Recreation is only seeking volunteers to design the park, and has already received plans from a couple of local architects.