City planning commissioners see light, dark


Accustomed to driving much of the debate at Planning Commission meetings, the most vocal commissioners signaled Monday that they are moving beyond the proposed hillside housing ordinance to take on additional issues directly tied to the future character of Malibu.

With hearings on the proposed hillside ordinance set for the next time the commission meets, Commission Chair Jo Ruggles, at Monday’s meeting, indicated she plans to push for a dark-sky ordinance limiting the amount of lighting in the city to protect views of the night sky. And Commissioners Charleen Kabrin and Ken Kearsley said they would like to see an area in the city set aside specifically for light industrial businesses.

City officials, including Ruggles, recently learned of the Tucson-based International Dark Sky Assn., an organization that promotes a reduction in light pollution. The association advises communities on how to draw up ordinances to limit urban glare, and it offers sample ordinances from the small number of cities that have adopted them.

Anticipating Ruggles’ request for the samples, the city’s planning staff ordered a set of the samples for the commission’s review. An excited Ruggles thanked the staff and asked to have the item placed on a future agenda. “That’s excellent, [the samples] will really help us,” she said.

Room for more light industry?

On the heels of granting a temporary conditional use permit to allow Malibu Paving Company to remain at its current location at the Trancas shopping center, Kearsley said he would like another area carved out in western Malibu where the company could move to when its two-year permit expires. He said the western part of the city needs not only the paving company, because of the number of private roads in the area, it also needs other light industrial services like an auto repair shop.

Kabrin, who voiced similar sentiments at the last commission meeting, said, “I couldn’t agree more that we need to find a location for those various services.”

She asked Planning Director Craig Ewing for guidance on how the commission could create such a location to meet the community’s unmet needs.

Ewing said the area in the city currently zoned for light industrial uses could be expanded. [The Malibu Times incorrectly reported in its last issue that the city had no light industrial zones. In fact, limited areas within the Civic Center are zoned for those types of activities.]

He said a zoning ordinance and general plan are a collection of values a community holds about itself at the time they are adopted.

“Over time, you make adjustments as new problems come up that you may not have anticipated or because of changes in the make-up of the community,” Ewing said.

Alternatively, he said, additional uses could be added to commercial shopping centers, as was the case with the Malibu Paving Company.

Ewing suggested the City Council is not likely to agree to a zoning change to allow more light industrial uses. It recently considered a proposal to do that at the Trancas shopping center, and it declined to do so. Instead, it added a permitted use at the center, which laid the groundwork for the Malibu Paving Company’s conditional use permit.

In other action, the commission granted a continuance to a property owner on Porterdale Drive, near Winding Way, to give him an opportunity to revise the design of his proposed home. Ruggles, Kabrin and Vice Chair Andrew Stern indicated they would not approve the project because, they said, it would adversely affect neighborhood character and not blend in with the natural topography.

The commission granted the continuance rather than voting up-or-down because, they said, the property owner and architect had worked hard to comply with the General Plan and the zoning ordinance.

Commissioner Ed Lipnick, who recently underwent surgery, was not at the commission meeting.