Build Malibu Better: ‘By-District’ Report and Civic Center Way Appeal Scheduled for Feb. 10

Paul Grisanti

First, the good news! According to the city’s rebuild statistics page, five building permits were issued in the last week, bringing the total to 62 active permits. So far, the city has received 223 fire rebuild applications out of a total of 480 homes lost. We creep closer to the 50 percent mark; 17 more applications are all we need.

Please push your consultants to get your rebuild application in ASAP as we creep closer to the end of June: the end of the budget year and the sunset of the council’s authorization for free rebuild fees. The council may reauthorize this assistance for the next budget cycle, but why chance it? 

The other looming deadline is Nov. 9, 2020, which will mark two years since Woolsey. I’m told the Malibu code that defines fire rebuilds states the application must be submitted within two years of the destructive event. A future council will probably consider amending the definition, but my crystal ball should not be relied on.

Mark your calendar now for the Feb. 10 city council meeting, which has two items that interest me. Items 4B and 4C are an appeal of the planning commission’s ridiculous modifications of the Civic Center Way project and a “Public Hearing Regarding Composition of Districts for Potential By-District Elections.”

The Civic Center Way project was designed to make Civic Center Way safer for pedestrians and cyclists while improving sightlines for drivers as they crest the hump just west of the condominiums at 23901 Civic Center Way. The proposed improvements include a safe path for pedestrians and a dedicated bike path for those going uphill (downhill cyclists have no problem keeping up with traffic). Our public works department met with cyclists, pedestrians, the public safety commission and the public works commission to create a fiscally responsible road improvement that fit within the existing right of way and the budget.  

The planning commission’s “improvements” included changes of building materials that demolish the budget. Their changes also included an additional lane that will chew up another 10-foot-wide strip of our proposed park and ride lot. They also pushed to remove a safety fence designed to protect a 10-foot drop down the face of a retaining wall. 

Item 4C will cover the council’s investigations into possibly complying with the shift to holding elections on a “by-district” basis. Expect news on the hiring of a demographer and a discussion touching on how this will all work on the first election after the shift. All of this will also require that the voters of Malibu vote for the shift in November 2020. Which districts will be contested in that first election? How will those districts be chosen? So far, about 30 cities in California have been forced to make the move with no successful or cheap resistance. What are our chances?