Letter: Final Say

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Letter to the Editor

Malibu law allows commercial property owners to create buildings covering 15% of their land. They can increase this to 20% by adding “public benefits.” This could make the difference between 750,000 square feet of new commercial development in Malibu’s future versus one million (and 33% more traffic). That’s one example of a development decision that gets made purely by discretion.

Measure R would empower citizens with discretionary decision about what public amenities do or do not make it worth allowing increased commercial development. Right now, it’s entirely up to three City Council members (a majority) to shape Malibu’s future. That’s too much power to have in the hands of three people, no matter who they are. 

Billions of dollars are at stake over future commercial development in Malibu, much of which will finally be enabled by the new sewer. We shouldn’t have a process where those who stand to gain billions can even attempt to influence Malibu’s future by lobbying, bribing, threatening, flattering or confusing three individuals. No public servant should desire having to face that situation. Allowing the entire population to collectively decide what deals are worth making with commercial developers automatically frees the process from “politics.”

As a community activist I’ve talked with hundreds of Malibu citizens about various issues. My perception is the people of Malibu, as a whole, whether or not they exactly share my priorities, are smart and conscientious. I’m neither afraid of a citizen majority denying basic property rights, recklessly justifying lawsuits, nor of citizens allowing excess development density. (Conversely, eight current and former City Council members want you to simultaneously fear both extremes. They trust themselves but distrust the citizen majority, which elected them, to make smart, reasonable decisions.)

If Measure R passes we’ll still need city processes, which include the expertise of the City Attorney and Planning Department that educate citizens and take our input about priorities related to large commercial development projects, as we have now. But we’ll no longer allow three individuals to have the final say. We can best influence our city’s future by voting “yes” on Nov. 4.

Lynn Norton