Malibu Businesses Get Break on Code Enforcement

The Malibu City Council voted 5-0 on Monday to allow nearly 40 local businesses and establishments to continue operating without Conditional Use Permits (CUPs), essentially giving them the OK to function as legally nonconforming operations under the city’s municipal code. 

The decision came after 20 months of inaction following the March 2013 deadline set for businesses to obtain CUPs. City staff has determined that at least 36 businesses within Malibu are currently operating without CUPs, primarily because these businesses were operating through the county prior to March 1993 when the Malibu Municipal Code was enacted, and were “grandfathered in” to the current code, with the intent of the original City Council that they would be required to comply by March of 2013. 

In 1993, the first City Council enacted the 20-year timeline, leaving it for a future Council to deal with. However, places like Our Lady of Malibu School, Malibu United Methodist Church and other establishments built before 1993 cannot expand to meet these newer physical requirements. Back then, parking was lesser, visitors were lesser, and the county was the supplier of permits. 

Under Monday’s decision, affected businesses and establishments won’t have to come into compliance with the city by obtaining CUPs unless they remodel, redevelop, or obtain other permitting such as a liquor license. But they could hit a snafu if they are ever required to increase on-site parking and lack the physical space to do so. 

Mayor Pro Tem John Sibert pointed to the Point Dume Village as a prime example of a problem down the road. 

“There is no place more under-parked than the Point Dume shopping center,” Sibert said. “If we’re going to force all businesses to conform with parking standards, we’re going to have to shut down some businesses in that shopping center.” 

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Councilmember Laura Rosenthal agreed. 

“Most of them would have to close because they can’t come into compliance,” she said. 

Even though this decision could technically jeopardize businesses down the road, the Council was not explicit in how it would handle potential repercussions of the decision. 

The issue of the missing CUPs was originally put on hold in 2013 due to a “staffing shortage,” according to Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski. 

In October of that year, City Council received and filed a report on staff ’s “intention to implement” the CUP requirement but did not take any action. 

According to reports prepared by staff, the majority of businesses currently operating without a CUP are restaurants (14), followed by churches/temples/houses of worship (7). 

Beach access on Malibu Road approved 

Malibu visitors and locals alike will soon have a new beach access point off Malibu Road. Council voted unanimously to deny an appeal against an access stairway to be built, along with public parking, a visually permeable fence and gate, connecting Malibu Road to the beach below. 

The access staircase will lead to the eastern end of the beach. 

Of primary concern for the appellant, Malibu Road resident Richard Trafton Robertson, is safety, since according to him, during high tide the beach in that area disappears. 

“You are putting the public in harm’s way. It’s bad public policy,” Robertson said. 

In response, the Council drew up restrictions in order to keep the public safe while still allowing them access in that area, since the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority has the right to create an access point. 

“You’re not being asked whether or not to make this a public accessway, this already is a public accessway,” Hogin said, “They’re coming to you like any property owner and asking for a permit for an improvement.” 

Mayor Peak suggested a condition that a sign be placed at the top of the access stairway, informing visitors of the day’s tides, in order to ensure they do not become trapped as the beach shrinks at high tide. 

Councilmember Rosenthal suggested a condition that signs indicating hazardous conditions to the east of the access point, where the beach ends, be installed as a warning. 

Council also voted that trash be picked up from the area daily or as needed. 

Despite the precautions, officials remained wary. 

“I have great concern for this property on the Fourth of July. Great concern,” Peak said. 

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