The Planning Commission Monday held the first of two hearings on a proposed self-storage facility on Cross Creek Road, one of the larger commercial developments planned for the Civic Center.
While most of the discussion Monday was given over to the applicant, Grant Adamson, the commissioners did hint at some of their concerns about the project, including its impact on views from state park land and the planned removal of five mature sycamore trees from the development site.
The proposed, 56,366-square-foot project, on Cross Creek Road, north of Civic Center Way, is planned for a site currently used for outdoor storage and cargo containers. The site is adjacent to Malibu Creek, but the proposed development would be outside the required setback from the creek’s and the lagoon’s environmentally sensitive habitat area.
The project would have originally encroached into the setback for the habitat area, but during the preparation of the environmental impact report, Adamson reconfigured the project to move it outside of the setback area.
The two-story project mimics the California Mission style with the doors to the individual storage compartments facing an interior plaza.
Adamson touted the merits of his project Monday, including a negligible increase in traffic and a service designed primarily for the benefit of Malibu residents.
“We wanted something to be proud of with little or no impact on the community or environment around it,” he told the commissioners.
Residents who live in the area also came to speak in support of the proposed development. “I want this new project because it will look better than what’s there now,” said Jon Artz, who lives on Cross Creek Road.
Bill Carson, a longtime resident in the neighborhood, said he would like to see a modern building replace the “weed-strewn” lot and “the ramshackle conglomeration of storage containers” that is currently there.
“Every time anybody talks about development in the Civic Center, it sets off alarm bells,” he said. “But this is not a development as far as I’m concerned.”
The commission did not discuss the project in detail, but they voiced some concerns at the outset of the hearing. A majority said they were troubled by the impact on the views from the creek and the lagoon, as well as from Cross Creek Road. And virtually all said they were concerned by the planned removal of mature sycamore trees from the site.
Adamson has offered to relocate the trees, but the state parks department has asked the city to require that the trees remain on the site. The parks department has also made other requests, including that the city require that no fertilizer be used in the development’s landscaping and that the sweeping and hosing down of the finished project be coordinated with the city’s Public Works Department to prevent runoff into the creek.
One of the biggest questions left to be discussed at a specially scheduled hearing on the matter — set for April 26 — is Adamson’s request for a variance in the project’s floor-area ratio — the size of a development relative to its lot size. The zoning code permits a FAR of 15 percent, but Adamson is requesting a FAR of 20 percent, on the grounds that most of the other developments in the Civic Center have a FAR of at least that amount. He is also seeking the increased FAR under the General Plan, which permits that level of density if an applicant provides a public benefit in return.
Adamson, the great-grandson of Frederick and May Rindge, cited in a memo his family’s sales and donations of land over the years for park space, including Malibu Creek and Bluffs Park. He is asking that those prior transactions be considered public benefits already delivered.