Commission set to draft hillside housing ordinance next week


The city planning staff had hoped the Planning Commission would have completed more work at its meeting Monday on a draft of the proposed hillside housing ordinance, but the commission put off most of the heavy-lifting until a special workshop next week.

At that meeting, the commission will propose the threshold for regulation under the hillside management program, propose hillside design guidelines and decide whether they think the planning director or the commission itself should review proposed projects. A public hearing on the draft ordinance will follow in mid-November.

The commission made progress on minor issues, but it was apparently not enough for Planning Director Craig Ewing. He told the commission they were moving “very slowly” on preparing the draft ordinance.

“It’s not an easy task, I recognize that,” he said.

Ewing asked the commission to review the hillside design guidelines from Mill Valley, Calif. He said those particular guidelines are well written and may be appropriate for adoption, with some modifications. Those guidelines provide for, among other concerns, the protection of ridgeline views, landscaping plans that are compatible with a site and neighboring properties, and the materials and colors used on roofs and siding.

The Mill Valley guidelines say that siding should be natural colors or painted or stained earth-tones and roofs should be compatible with a tract’s surroundings. Mill Valley also has a design review board that considers exceptions.

The Planning Commission does not appear likely to recommend such a board for Malibu, because of criticism from local architects.

Commissioner Andrew Stern asked architect Ed Niles whether he would accept a review board that acted only when a development application was denied. Niles said he thinks a review board, even in that circumstance, would act only as “taste mongers.” “I don’t want a group to set themselves up as the arbiters of taste,” said Niles.

The next workshop is scheduled for Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. The location has not been determined.