City Council to hear report on commercial diversification

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From left: City Manager Jim Thorsen, Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal, Mayor Pro Tem Joan House, Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilmen Skylar Peak and John Sibert. 

The Malibu City Council will discuss a commercial diversification ordinance and a formula business ordinance at its next meeting on Nov. 13. Council members are not set to vote on either of the items, but the city planning department is asking the City Council to provide further instruction on preparing one or both of the ordinances for a future vote. 

In March, the planning staff was directed to research and draft a commercial diversification ordinance. But, according to a staff report, several questions came up along the way and the staff now requires further instruction from the City Council. 

“Questions arose regarding regulating and enforcing an ordinance, exposure to legal challenge, and whether or not an amendment to the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) would be required before the ordinance took effect,” Associate Planner Joseph Smith wrote in a staff report. 

Commercial diversification recently reappeared as a hot-button city issue after two local restaurants—Guido’s Italian Restaurant and Point Pizza—announced they would be closing because of lease disputes with their landlords. 

City Attorney Christi Hogin prepared a 19-page memorandum addressing the city planners’ questions and considerations for the city council to make. 

“The primary purpose of the ordinance cannot be to protect local businesses from the invasion of large-scale chain stores that do business all over the country,” Hogin writes in the memo. Whatever action the city takes can also not result in a discriminatory effect that ends up favoring local businesses, according to Hogin. 

The full memo and staff report are available here.