Adamson Hotel site plan runs into council objections

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Better feelings exist between council and Coastal Commission on LCP; Las Flores Park plan edges forward.

By Ken Gale /Special to The Malibu Times

The City Council Monday rejected a request to change an environmental mitigation plan at the site of a hotel to be built on land known as the Adamson property on Malibu Canyon Road north of Pacific Coast Highway.

In 1998, the city accepted the offer of 30 acres north of the site to mitigate the loss of 8 acres of coastal sage scrub to construction of the hotel, to be known as Rancho Malibu.

In July, the Adamson Companies sold the property to Meadowlands Ranch LLC, headed by Brian Sweeney.

Meadowlands wants to reclaim a portion of the 30-acre mitigation land because the lower slope density there would be more suitable for construction of a hotel than the site proposed for it. In exchange, Meadowlands offered twice as much land-a total of 60 acres-for mitigation of the environment.

But councilmembers argued the new land being offered, much of which is across the city line in Los Angeles County, has such a steep slope density that it would not be suitable for development. Thus, they said, the city would be giving up already mitigated land for development in exchange for land that could never developed.

Meanwhile, better feelings between the City of Malibu and the California Coastal Commission seemed to be holding up, a week and a half after a watershed hearing by the commission.

At that Nov. 18 hearing, Coastal Commissioners promised more direct communication with the city on the drafting of a new local coastal plan (LCP) for Malibu. Until the hearing, city leaders had accused the Coastal Commission of creating an LCP that dictated city land-use decisions without city input.

But Monday, Councilmember Ken Kearsley said, “I thought the LCP meeting downtown was a success. It looks like we’re getting to the point where we can at least have a discussion on some of the issues with the Coastal Commission.”

Councilmember Jeff Jennings echoed that sentiment, with only slight reservation. “We have some positive indication that at least our voice is going to be heard … we’ll see. It’s looking reasonably favorable.”

Jennings also said the city had been getting help from higher political levels, starting with meetings that he and Mayor Joan House had with state Sen. Sheila Kuehl and Assemblywoman Fran Pavley prior to the commission hearing.

He said another meeting was being planned at Kuehl’s office in Los Angeles in the near future. That meeting could include city staff and “whoever Coastal wants to send.”

“Jeff and I have continued to have lots of meetings on the LCP and will continue to do so right on through until we have an LCP that we can live with,” said House.

But there have not been any meetings between the city and Coastal Commission Chair Sara Wan and Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill, who formed a subcommittee of two for the purpose of direct discussions with Malibu officials.

In other action, the council voted to proceed with the first phase of a three-part plan to build Las Flores Creek Park.

The ambitious $2.1 million plan would remove an abandoned house on proposed park property, build fences and trails, and remove exotic plants not native to the area.

The plan calls for a complete cleaning out and restoration of Las Flores Creek. The park would also include a playground, a pedestrian bridge, a parking area, rest rooms and more.

Money for the project is to be raised through state and federal grants as well as local fundraising. However, only about $187,000 has been raised so far, enough to complete phase one and perhaps begin a second phase.

On another matter involving developer Brian Sweeney, the council delayed action until Jan. 28 on a proposal to construct a 1,660-foot long private road north of Sweetwater Mesa Road in Serra Retreat. The road would serve as an access to five single-family lots on adjacent property in Los Angeles County.