New restaurant may rise at Windsail site


Parking for the proposed 10,000 square-foot facility may be a problem, and neighbors ask for redesign to minimize noise impacts.

By Jonathan Friedman/Special to The Malibu Times

Concerns about the possible noise, traffic and other disturbances that a proposed 10,000-square-foot restaurant with a bar and spa, which would be located at the old Windsail site on Pacific Coast Highway, could cause was voiced by planning commissioners at last week’s meeting.

Ed Niles, the architect for the proposed project, presented the plan at the Planning Commission meeting, which calls for a two-story building that would be shaped like a ship. Located on the first floor would be the restaurant and bar area, and a beach deck. The second floor would include a smaller bar area, a sun terrace and a spa. The spa would at first be open to the public, but would eventually become exclusive to guests at a hotel planned to be built further down Pacific Coast Highway at Malibu Canyon Road on a property owned by Weintraub Financial. The group also owns the proposed restaurant site. Malibu resident John Mazza pointed out the restaurant would actually be an extension of the hotel, possibly meaning a large number of daily visitors. The commission agreed.

“Understanding the consequences of what it means to have this particular place targeted as the extension of the hotel is a good idea, … ” Commissioner Deirdre Roney said. “So that once again, when we say yes or no, we know what we are saying yes or no to.”

A four-unit condominium is located to the east of where the dining area and bar would be. To mitigate some of the noise concerns this raises, city staff recommended that no live entertainment and outdoor speakers be allowed. But Gene Monkarsh, a resident of the condominium, said the project should be flipped so that the noisy part of structure would not be next to his home. Planning Director Drew Purvis said that could create a new problem, since an open portion of the bar would then be facing the condominium. He recommended an acoustical study to determine which scenario was better.

The parking plan is for it to be exclusively valet. Cars would enter through a driveway on the west side of the facility. The valet workers would then park the cars closely together in various places in front of the structure. The commission raised concerns about the consequences of parking the cars in a packed manner. Chair Richard Carrigan said he worried the parking system could cause a backup on the highway. Commissioner Robert Adler added that the situation could be further problematic with a shuttle bus entering the facility to drop off hotel patrons.

“I’m uncomfortable with packing cars into a small space, and also trying to get a shuttle bus around,” he said.

The size of the proposed structure raises another issue. The request is for a larger floor-area ratio than the city’s General Plan allows. Weintraub has offered what it calls public benefits in exchange for the permission to build beyond the limit. The original proposal was to create a 980-square-foot community room, but that would require more parking spaces. So instead, the group has offered to make a financial contribution to Malibu’s new City Hall fund and to construct a public restroom for the beach accessway to the east of restaurant. The city has a formula to determine how much money Weintraub would need to put toward the fund, based on an evaluation of the increased benefit it would receive from the additional square footage. Monkarsh’s daughter, Harlee Gasmer, a weekend condominium visitor, raised concerns about the restroom.

“Public restrooms at beaches tend to be dirty, a refuge for drug users (and) homeless people,” she said. “They’re under maintained and they’re overcrowded.”

Commission support for the restroom was minimal. And the commissioners could not decide if the contribution amount was sufficient, since that number has not yet been calculated. Vice-Chair David Fox said returning to the community room concept could be a possibility. A provision in the zoning ordinance allows the commission to reduce the parking space requirement to allow for that.

Monkarsh suggested reducing the size of the structure to meet the size allowed by the zoning code, thus eliminating the need to choose a public benefit. Roney said she would like to know if there was an economic reason why the structure needed to be a certain size.

The commissioners agreed that this was an incomplete project with a great deal of questions remaining to be answered. Weintraub and Niles will return to the commission on Mar. 17 with further information, and seek approval for the project.