No trust in trusts


    I read with great interest your story [March. 4, “New environmental group desperately seeking solution”] on a new land trust. I wondered why would there be a “third land trust” needed in Malibu. We already have the “Nature Conservancy” and “The Mountains Restoration Trust.” Then I read that the president of the trust was no other than Gil Segal. The light dawned and I understood! The same Gil Segal who supported Keller-Van Horn and cityhood. He served on the “General Plan Task Force” where he helped downzone most of the commercial property in Malibu and was one of the leaders of the “Road Worriors, a Hasse Political Action Committee.”

    This “Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy” is nothing more than a new tool of the “City Council,” aka the “Keller Gang (Keller-Van Horn-Hasse). There is, I fear, a conspiracy beginning to take place as the city begins negotiations with the “Malibu Bay Company” to extort property from them and other landowners in the Civic Center area.

    The conservancy is the “escape mechanism” for the city because it can be argued that the landowner hasn’t had all reasonable use taken from them by local government. The landowner can obtain value by giving their property to the conservancy or can sell it to them for 50 cents on the dollar and receive a gift tax credit for the balance. The only reason for the property owner to want to do this is if all reasonable value is taken by governmental restriction, ordinance or some other regulatory process.

    What is going to be negotiated with the Bay Company is the size of the development that will be allowed on their land. Let me put this in the proper perspective for you. The City of Los Angeles will allow you to build 1.5 times the size of your land in improvements. The city of Malibu will allow you to build only .15 percent or a reduction of 90 percent of what would be normal and customary for Southern California. This reduction I believe would be viewed by any court as a “taking of all rights.” The established state law guarantees a reasonable expectation.

    Property owner “rights” are protected by the “United States Constitution.” The Constitution was devised specifically to protect its citizens from just such schemes and provides for government to pay “fair market value” but does not allow for extortion. “Land trusts” are just a slick way to try to get around these protections. This allows the government to acquire your property from you on the cheap!

    The “Malibu Bay Company” is a financially sound company and has indicated that they wish to create an “environmentally sensitive” development with “open space” that would meet the community’s desires.

    John Perenchio, an operating officer of the Malibu Bay Company, has indicated that he can build a viable project with a floor-area ratio of .25 percent or 75 percent open space and has indicated that he would do this if requested. The city knows this and their toadies Norma Levy and Marshall Thompson are trying to paint “The Bay Company” as some type of “demon” in letters of March 4 and March 11, 1999. This seems to be the beginning of the attempt to justify the coming “extortion.”

    If I was to give advice to the “Malibu Bay Company” and they haven’t asked me, I would tell them to submit a plan to the city based upon current requirements, when they are turned down, appeal, be turned down again, then play “hard ball” in court. This will give them a more reasonable usage of their property or “fair market compensation” and the cost will be less.

    Tom Bates,

    land use chairman,

    Malibu Board of Realtors, 1981-86