Legislating art

Ed. note: This letter was sent to

members of the Planning Commission

As I am unable to attend the meeting Monday I thought I would share my thoughts about the proposed Hillside Ordinance.

I think we have been spending too much time on design issues and not enough on the hard guidelines and parameters of the ordinance, namely, what properties are to be included, how big a house can one build on any particular parcel, and what are the physical constraints on the design. It is most important that a property owner and architect can know what size house can be constructed and where it can be located with a minimum of time and effort.

I have also come to the conclusion that I am against design review for a number of reasons.

First, it has the feeling of being an architectural review process, dictating what styles, shapes and appearances are acceptable and which are not. This is anathema to the architectural community and also not in keeping with the eclectic and free-spirited nature of Malibu as I know it.


Second, while our planning director is a fine fellow in whom I have great confidence, he will not be planning director forever. We are a government of laws and not of men, and what one can build on a hillside should not be determined by the current composition of the planning department.

Last, and most important, design review leaves the city open to charges, usually made incorrectly, of favoritism and political influence. There is already a perception in this city that if one knows the right people one can get what one wants approved, and if one does not, or is at odds with them, one can not. An ordinance with a large amount of discretion by staff, commission and council will only reinforce this perception.

Edward Lipnick

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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