Development deal dominates the dialogue

Arnold G. York/Publisher

Questions about the Malibu Bay Company/City of Malibu development deal dominated Monday’s council meeting as the forces of opposition led by Gil and Joanne Segel and a dozen or so of their supporters from the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy (MCLC) tried a number of stratagems to derail the prospective deal.

At the top of the list is the MCLC proposed ballot initiative in which Malibu voters will ultimately have to decide if they want the opportunity to vote on pretty much every proposed commercial development of more than 25,000 square feet. The signatures gathered in the initiative campaign by MCLC to put the measure onto the ballot are currently being checked by the L.A. County Registrar of Voters. If they don’t finish the counting job by Aug. 11, it will be legally too late to get the measure onto the November 2000 ballot. Several from the MCLC group came to the podium and charged that the city was manipulating the signature verification process to delay the initiative, to slow it down and keep it off the November 2000 ballot. An obviously frustrated Mayor Hasse responded to them that it was not the case, that there was a legal process set forth in the statutes for handling initiatives and that process was being followed.

Perhaps fueling the paranoia of MCLC advocates Dan Frumkes, Marcia Hanscom, Steve Uhring, Marilyn Dove and Tami Clark was the council’s decision to put two of their own referendum matters onto the November 2000 ballot for the voters’ decision. In the first, which they passed unanimously 5-0, Malibu voters will be asked for an advisory opinion–if they would be willing to pass a bond issue for $15,000,000 to buy land for public parks, wetland and other public amenities. In the second referendum, in a 4 to 1 vote (Jennings dissenting), they decided to put the ultimate decision on the proposed Malibu Bay Company Development deal onto the ballot.

The MCLC group spoke vehemently against putting the council’s referendums onto the November ballot charging they would only muddy up the issues and confuse the voters, however, several councilmembers said that the Malibu voters were educated and wouldn’t have any problem sorting out the issues. They called the MCLC position hypocrisy because on one hand they were advocating a public vote, providing it was on their initiative, but resisting a public vote on anybody else’s.

The council did agree 5-0 to instruct staff to begin the process of analyzing the impacts of the proposed MCLC-Segel Ballot Initiative and directed all city department heads to look into some of the following; consistency with state law, impacts on permit streamlining process, impacts on affordable housing, costs of defense, impacts in situations where counsel must make findings, coastal act conflicts, fiscal impacts from special election and any other legal problems.

The development deal, which was originally on Monday night’s agenda, was continued the next council meeting in August, to allow time to make some corrections in the property appraisals.

Next council meeting

At the next meeting the council will vote on the final version of both referendums again; also, whether to send the proposed development deal out for an EIR, over the objection of the MCLC opponents, and whether the MCLC Initiative will get onto the November 2000 ballot, if it makes it back from the Registrar of Voters in time.

Point Dume Preserve

The council, in a 5-0 vote, over the objection of some neighbors who still don’t like the idea of parking on Point Dume near the Headlands Preserve, put their stamp of approval on a legal settlement between the city, the Coastal Commission and State Department of Parks and Recreation. Their decision ends a multi year tumultuous battle between the city and the Coastal Commission in which the city made the area around the preserve a “No parking” area and then put down large boulders alongside the preserve on the state’s right of way to prevent parking. An incensed Coastal Commission had initiated enforcement action against the city for doing it all without a coastal permit and threatened the city with large fines. The final deal the parking was cut from 32 spaces to 10 spaces plus a shuttle bus. They’re still working out the exact location of those parking spots and the neighbors are still threatening to sue.

Home Occupations and Code Enforcement get relief

The Building Department, speaking in a much more conciliatory tone put into writing many of the building department policies concerning code enforcement, and the council ordered them adopted as council instructions to staff in a 5-0 vote. They also tried to address council concerns about people being evicted during this interim period while they, the council, are trying to decide where they want to go with changes in the codes. Building Official Vic Petersen articulated what he saw as the underlying philosophy of enforcement by saying, “As long as it’s safe, it’s OK (see Page A1).

In other action the council

  • Heard several attacks on Pepperdine University for dumping water into Marie Canyon adjacent to the school, which several speakers felt was undermining the stability of Malibu Road Assistance was requested at Pepperdine’s upcoming hearing before the Regional Water Quality Control Board on their permit;
  • Delayed action of the beach string-line issue to the next meeting to allow staff time to work out the wording, but indicated their intent to develop some uniform string-line standards; one for decks and another for houses, to try and eliminate some of the beach warfare that has taken place lot by lot over the past few years
  • Agreed to proceed on a twin-track to explore the reopening of Rambla Pacifico Road, closed since a slide in 1984. One track is for a smaller private road project with a gate paid for by the local homeowners (many have agreed to pony up $10,00 each plus annual maintenance), or alternatively some public project either over or around the old slide, done through a special district.
  • Agreed 5-0 to hire retired City Manager Harry Peacock to continue work on the MBC/ Malibu Development deal over the opposition of the MCLC -Segel group, who thought someone else would be better.
  • Agreed to extend and link up unconnected pieces of the DG horse trail across the street from Malibu High School.
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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