City prepares for post-LCP saga planning

The city is beginning to meet with applicants seeking coastal development permits so the city will be prepared to issue permits if it loses its case against the Coastal Commission and is forced to grant the permits based on the Malibu Local Coastal Program written by the state agency.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

The city of Malibu is beginning to prepare for what will most likely be a tidal wave of work once the city’s battle with the California Coastal Commission concludes. The city has sent out 10 invitations to applicants to meet with staff regarding the preliminary review of projects that have received city approval, but require the coastal development permits. The invitations will continue to be sent out weekly to people in the order of the date their projects received city approval. Those who received the first 10 invitations could be a microcosm of the more than 100 applicants awaiting coastal permits. One person’s project, although meeting city standards, did not meet the standards of the Coastal Commission-approved Malibu Local Coastal Program, which would be the document the city would have to abide by for issuing coastal permits unless a state appellate court rules otherwise. Another five of the invitation recipients were new owners of properties that already had coastal permit applications submitted to the city, leading Environmental and Community Development Director Vic Peterson to suggest that project designs could be so radically different from the originals that a new review would need to be done.

No coastal permits have been issued in Malibu for nearly two years. This is because the Coastal Commission says the city must issue them based on a Malibu LCP it approved in September 2002. Meanwhile, the city refuses to grant the permits because it says Malibu voters must be legally allowed to vote whether to approve that LCP document. Shortly after the Coastal Commission approved the LCP, Malibu voters obtained enough signatures to put it to a referendum, but the commission challenged the legality of that referendum. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge later ruled in favor of the state agency. The city has since appealed, with a decision before the appellate court expected to come sometime in the next month. If the court upholds the earlier decision, the city would then have to begin issuing permits based on the Coastal Commission-approved LCP.

At the July 21 City Council quarterly meeting, Peterson gave an update on the Environmental and Community Development Department’s preparation for when it would need to begin issuing the permits. He said it is anticipated that additional staffing will be required for the department during this time, and that projects will be handled in the order they received city approval. Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern said he is concerned the process will be backed up when certain projects are determined not to meet the standards of the Coastal Commission-approved LCP or because a project has changed under a new owner, since city staff would need more time to deal with it.

“I would hate to see the 100 people in the queue slowed down because there are new owners or somebody decided to add a bowling alley or a bathroom,” Stern said.

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City Manager Katie Lichtig said if a project were determined to require significant staff time for review because it was not close to meeting the standards of the Coastal Commission-approved LCP, then the project would be taken out of its place in the line for permit approval. Which projects qualified under that classification would be the staff’s decision.

Foam-free Malibu?

The council discussed the possibility of creating an ordinance that would ban plastic foam containers by take-out restaurants in Malibu. The city of Portland, Ore. drafted such an ordinance in 1989, and California cities like Huntington Beach and San Clemente have banned plastic foam at city facilities and events. Councilmember Jeff Jennings suggested city staff should contact Portland officials to discuss its ordinance, and contact other cities’ officials as to why they did not issue citywide bans on the product.

“I think this is something [banning plastic foam] worth pursuing, but only if we could come up with an effective ban,” said Jennings, who added that he sees a great deal of plastic foam containers when he participates in beach cleanups.

13StarsManager
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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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