Residential projects up for coastal permits

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The Planning Commission will likely be presented with its first two residential applications for coastal development permits at its meeting on Feb. 22.

The commission is tentatively scheduled to vote on construction of a single-family home on Zumirez Drive and for an addition to a home on Sea View Drive. Two other residential projects are also ready to go before the commission for review, and could be on March agendas.

At Monday’s meeting, planning staff presented the commission with an overview of how the coastal permitting process will work. Coastal permits will be issued based on the Malibu Local Coastal Program, a set of documents drafted by the California Coastal Commission that the city was forced to accept after a flurry of lawsuits. Prior to the creation of the LCP, projects received municipal permits from the city and CDPs from the Coastal Commission. Now, projects needing a CDP that already have approval based on the Municipal Code and the city’s General Plan will have to go through a process to receive the CDPs from the city. In the future, projects will be granted municipal and coastal approval simultaneously from the city.

There are currently 95 projects-residential, commercial and municipal-with pending CDP applications, including the two ready to go before the commission on Feb. 22. Another two projects-construction of a single-family home on Malibu Cove Colony and construction of another on Pacific Coast Highway-are also ready for Planning Commission review, but have not been scheduled. Two municipal projects-the realignment of Zumirez Drive and a drainage project at Big Rock-were granted CDPs in December. The Zumirez realignment was appealed to the City Council, which affirmed the Planning Commission’s decision last month.

The Sea View Drive project that is tentatively scheduled to be placed on the Feb. 22 agenda has already received administrative approval. Administrative approval is granted to projects that do not require extensive review. The project will be placed on the agenda’s Consent Calendar, which means it would be approved with no discussion. However, a member of the community can speak on the subject during public comment. If the person were able to persuade the commission to take the item off the Consent Calendar, it would require the item to be moved to a future meeting, and be placed on the regular portion of the agenda.

The Zumirez Drive single-family project is tentatively scheduled to be on the regular portion of the agenda. This means it has been thoroughly analyzed, since it is the construction of an entire home rather than just an addition, and the commission will have a full discussion on the item.

Any CDP approved by the Planning Commission can be appealed to the City Council. Most of the City Council decisions can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.

At Monday’s meeting, Planning Manager Mike Teruya said there were some ambiguous portions of the LCP, in which it was not clear what the Coastal Commission had in mind. Teruya said the staff would lean on the conservative side in its permitting. If somebody felt the permit was too conservative, it could then bring the issue before the Coastal Commission. Planning consultants Norm Haynie and Don Schmitz said this put pressure and expense on the applicants. But former City Council candidate John Mazza said to do the opposite would put the pressure on somebody who would want to appeal a project that he felt was not in line with what the Coastal Commission intended with the LCP.

Planning Commissioner Regan Schaar asked Teruya why the city doesn’t just ask the Coastal Commission what was meant by any ambiguous portions of the LCP. He said the city was not confident it would receive a written response from the commission staff.

Planning Commissioner Les Moss said it could be possible that the Coastal Commission would be more in line with the thinking of the city than it would have been a few years ago. He said in recent years, new additions to the Coastal Commission have been people more in sympathy with Malibu. Despite the Coastal Commission staff being perceived as being against the city, the actual commissioners who vote, Moss said, have different opinions. He said the city could take this into consideration when interpreting the LCP.