City sings different tune on Streisand project


News Analysis

Round Two of the Streisand/Brolin Zumirez controversy, staged before the Malibu City Council at the HRL auditorium Monday night, again ended without a decision and a with a promise there would be a Round Three in a few weeks, supposedly to resolve the matter.

In a new and mysterious development, Councilman Tom Hasse indicated there were some new legal complications he just found out about, Under the circumstances, he said, the council shouldn’t make any decision until it had an opportunity to meet with its interim city attorney to discuss it in closed session since it related to potential litigation. For that reason, the council decided to take public testimony, since many people had come to testify, but to put off making a decision for a few weeks.

The project the Brolins want, according to the city staff report, is to tear down a smaller existing 3,463-square-foot house plus 735-square-foot detached garage and replace it with a new, two-story, 6,795-square-foot house with a detached garage, 4,092-square-foot main structure basement and a 399-square-foot garage basement. The project application, judging from the speakers at both meetings, hs apparently divided the immediate neighborhood pro and con, and set longtime neighbors against each other. The involved house is the middle house in a three-house compound owned by their trust, which, taken altogether, according to opponents, will mean a total of 25,000 square feet with an option to buy an adjacent fourth house.

The Brolins were not present because they are enroute to Australia, but some of their neighbors and friends argued they were being singled out because of their celebrity, and that their project was legal and was not much different than many others up on the cliffside of Zumirez. A procession of their friends, business associates and some neighbors, including Realtor Jack Pritchett, Ruth White from Ramirez Canyon, Jeff Wald, Suzy Landolfi, Michelle Marvin Van Dyke and several others, came forward to speak on their behalf. The opponents, who included some neighbors and some of the surf community, say quite the contrary, that at every step of the way the Brolins have had special treatment and there is an unstable bluff that will be made less stable by this project.

They pointed to the latest incident where they charged city biologist Marti Witter apparently did a flip-flop on the question of where the blufftop was located. The importance of the question was that the blufftop line as previously agreed upon placed the house within 100 feet of an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA). Rather then relocate the house, the Brolins’ geologist came back with a report that said the city was wrong, and the blufftop was actually in a different place, and therefore the house was already outside of the 100 feet of an ESHA. Being within 100 feet of an ESHA would have raised some significant environmental issues. Apparently upon receiving the Brolins’ geologists report, the city biologist immediately concurred with their conclusion and wrote a new report to that effect, without doing any of her own studies to test their new conclusions.

Both the opponents and the proponents indicated they want to bring this to a conclusion, and the matter was continued for closed session. It will probably be back on the council agenda for a meeting in the very near future.