Commission debates where to stow it

The Planning Commission is gearing up for a battle between a property owner who wants to build a 33,000-square-foot storage facility near Kanan Dume Road and Pacific Coast Highway and residents who don’t want it in their neighborhood.

The property is zoned for commercial development, but a Conditional Use Permit is required in order to operate the facility. A public hearing had been scheduled for the July 6 meeting to allow public input before the commission decided whether or not to grant the CUP. Planning Director Craig Ewing told commissioners that the proposed access to the property from Kanan Dume Road may not be adequate. Ewing said the property owner, Isaac Shachory, is negotiating with neighbors to get an easement that would provide additional access from PCH. The commission continued the matter for two weeks to allow staff time to review the plans for additional access but heard testimony from those who said they would not be able to attend a public hearing on the issue later this month.

“I certainly don’t want any more traffic than already is next to my property,” said Sam Farab, owner of the adjacent property. Farab said having a storage facility next door would be unsightly and lower property values.

Neighbor Brian Holmes agreed: “There’s a couple of new residences here and it’s going to hurt them badly.” Holmes criticized Shachory for weeds growing on the vacant lot, saying “He hasn’t been a great property owner this year.”

Shachory, who plans to build the storage facility, said he has not cut the weeds because he expected to be building by now. He pointed to Farab’s neighbors sitting in the audience and said, “The ones that talk the most about me will be my first customers.” Shachory told commissioners Malibu residents need a storage facility and his would be attractive, with a berm of plants and trees to camouflage its existence. A spokesman for Shachory said the only thing visible would be the red tile roof.

Also at that meeting, commissioners began the debate over the definition of a basement. Ewing told commissioners that, under current city code, a basement doesn’t count toward total square-footage of a house if it is deep enough. This has allowed full basements, with outdoor access, to be built and exempted from square-footage requirements. Ewing suggested two ways to remedy the situation. One is to end the practice of averaging the midpoint of walls. The other is to end the exemption from square-footage.

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Architect Mike Barsocchini urged commissioners to gather input from architects and the planning staff before creating the new definition.

Commissioner Andrew Stern said the code has created “a huge loophole for people to create more living space,” adding, “It does have a major impact.” A workshop has been scheduled for July 25 to study hillside regulations and basements. The commission voted unanimously to postpone discussion.

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