Council postpones Streisand decision


After receiving a last-minute letter from Barbra Streisand requesting a postponement, and seeing about 20 people wanting to speak, the City Council Monday night allowed public comment but continued a decision on plans for her Point Dume home until next month.

The Planning Commission earlier approved the megastar’s 11,000-plus-square-foot project, including a two-story, 28-foot-high house, a detached garage and two basements. Streisand’s representative at the meeting, Jamie Harnish, said the basements were needed to inventory her memorabilia for the Smithsonian.

The council still must to decide whether Streisand and her husband, James Brolin, were granted special waivers to allow overbuilding on a small lot and reducing setbacks from an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area on a primary coastal bluff.

Streisand’s letter asked for the postponement until an unspecified date so she and Brolin could meet with neighbors, explore their concerns and “set straight some misperceptions about what kind of structure we would like to build.” The couple would then “move ahead after communication has worked its wonders and achieved consensus.” [See Letters to the Editor for the full text of the letter.]

The council, responding to charges of favoritism for celebrities, as well as jibes from the audience about the upcoming municipal election in April, postponed the agenda item until Feb. 28.

The structure would be set back 75 feet from the bluff’s edge. Ordinarily, development on blufftop property must be kept 100 feet from coastal scrub. The beach below the bluff is the only one in Point Dume owned by residents of the neighboring street.

Next-door neighbors Eric and Cheryl Jacobson, who appealed the Planning Commission decision twice last year, told the council they were concerned with the magnitude of the proposed development and the extent of departure from neighborhood standards.

“This application has been approved even though it exceeds the property development and design standards for size, as it pertains to neighborhood standards, by 232 percent,” Eric Jacobson said. “[P]erhaps most importantly, the setback for an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area was unnecessarily waived … . I’m also alarmed at what appears to be a preferential application of the property development and design standards for this particular project.

“One of the things I’ve noticed during the planning process for this project is that I feel we are involved in a shell game,” Jacobson continued. “This project is disguised as a single-family residential home when, in fact, it is truly a large entertainment facility posing as a two-bedroom house where much of the uncounted bulk is underground or in the single stories that rise 26 feet in height.”

Other neighbors, including Denise Ferris, claim the commercial nature of some of Streisand’s activities (such as interviews and editing) has caused excessive traffic. “Because of the cul de sac, every car has to make a right turn,” Ferris said. “The TV crews and caterers are endangering our children and animals.”

Overwatering is endangering bluff stability, council members were told. Dusty Peak, a 40-year resident and avid surfer, said water from the bluffs falls on him and offered to show the city where Johnny Carson’s lights fell down.

Mari Stanley, who lives within 500 feet of the Brolins, claims water from the area was flowing onto her property and called for an investigation of the watering bills. She also claims the neighborhood beach was used illegally when it was photographed for the record jacket for Streisand’s “Higher Ground” CD, and that Streisand’s film “The Mirror Has Two Faces” was edited on Streisand’s property.

Stanley also said Streisand’s staff repeatedly ignored requests to slow down their driving.

She also said the Brolin house was “not a residence but a storage facility.”

Before Streisand’s letter promising never to donate the home to a “state organization” was read into the record, Ramirez Canyon Homeowner Association President Ruth White called for people to protest possible California Coastal Commission approval today (Thursday) of the Ramirez Canyon Public Park. Streisand donated that 22-acre site to The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy seven years ago.