Pot Shops Still Puffing Along

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Plans for improvements to Legacy Park were prepared for council and the Cultural Arts Commission by Hodgetts and Fung. They include the addition of water features, after the Civic Center Sewer goes online. Colored lines represent proposed bridges.

City Council Monday night drove the final nail in the coffin for opponents of a pot shop approved to open next door to Colony House Liquor, narrowly deciding to reject an appeal that would keep the 400 sq. ft. business from opening its doors in 2016.

“I’m looking for any excuse I can find not to approve this, and I’m having a hard time finding one because we have rules in place that say that it can be next to — in the same building as — a liquor store,” Council Member John Sibert said at the meeting. Sibert was considered the “swing vote” between supporters Mayor Laura Rosenthal and Council Member Skylar Peak, and opposition, Mayor Pro Tem Lou La Monte and Council Member Joan House.

“I don’t like to make decisions based upon just a gut feeling, OK?” Sibert lamented, before voting “very reluctantly ‘yes,’” to reject the appeal and allow the shop to receive a permit.

La Monte, on the other hand, voiced his opposition in voting “absolutely not.”

“Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right, or moral,” La Monte said, reiterating statements made by opponent Natalia Iswara. Thirteen members of the public came to speak in opposition to the planned pot shop, Malibu Community Collective, which is owned by an LLC including Steve Braverman, an Oxnard resident. Four came to speak in favor of the shop.

“All you’ve got to do is add pizza,” Malibu resident and activist Matt deNicola sarcastically recommended to council. “Marijuana, beer, pizza. Maybe throw a cot in the back.”

In the end, Rosenthal, Peak and Sibert agreed that the city’s laws could not prevent a pot shop in that location, whether or not they found it to be the best possible place.

“If we are going to follow our own ordinances and what we’ve put into place, then we should be approving this,” Rosenthal said.

Malibu ordinances are, however, silent on issues of delivery and cultivation. The council’s approval of the permit included a prohibition of onsite cultivation or delivery of marijuana.

Legacy Park could add pond, more art

Malibuites love to hate Legacy Park, but soon, according to plans reviewed by City Council, that could all change.

A three-phase Legacy Park Enhancement Plan has been created by the firm Hodgetts and Fung, designed to make Legacy Park more welcoming to locals and visitors.

Some of the proposed plans include water features such as a pond at the northern edge of the park that would be put into place after the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility goes online. 

“It is something that would attract people all the way from the Country Mart up to that area,” Creative Director Craig Hodgetts said. He added that the proposed pond would include “low-lying surroundings that you could sit and dangle your feet in the water.”

City Manager Jim Thorsen presented one possible stumbling block: getting approval for outdoor treated water use by the regional water board.

“They’re kind of reluctant with some of these issues, because what happens when it rains? Does that piece overflow and go into the storm drain?” Thorsen said. 

Overall, City Council and various city commissioners gave support to the plans and expressed confidence the water would not be an issue.

Help for the homeless

Dozens of members of CART, the Community Assistance Resource Team, came to speak at Monday’s meeting, during which council voted to allocate its remaining $57,000 Community Development Block Grant funds to Step Up on Second, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit.

CART, which works with the homeless in the Malibu community, came to shed light on issues of homelessness here in Malibu.

“I think it’s a great way to begin, by working with a program in Santa Monica,” Rabbi Levi Cunin said. He went on to reiterate statements made by CART founder Carol Moss. “We should be focusing more on how we can help out the people in our community who are under such predicament.”

Former Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich put it more bluntly.

“It’s a step,” Ulich said, but later added, “We need boots on the ground now, before the El Niño hits, and people eventually could die. We do not want blood on any of our hands. Our community cares, we’re here to solve problems together.”