There are changes in the wind with the Malibu Planning Commission.
The City of Malibu’s planning structure is now up to full strength with the recent reappointment of attorney Andrew Stern by Councilmember Sharon Barovsky and the addition of the new permanent Planning Director, Barry Hogan, who is beginning to settle in to the job after replacing interim Planning Director Henry Engen.
The planning commission now consists of Chair Ed Lipnick, a House appointment, Vice Chair Charleen Kabrin, a Hasse appointment, Richard Carrigan, a Kearsley appointment, attorney David Fox, a Jennings appointment, and Stern. Gone from the commission is Ken Kearsley, now on the City Council, and Jo Ruggles, former planning commission chair, a longtime Keller/Van Horn supporter and Kabrin ally.
The impact of the changes became apparent in a series of votes at the last planning commission meeting when Kabrin, who in the past had frequently been in the majority, now found herself on the short end of several 4 to 1 votes, where she was a minority of one.
Malibu city attorney Stephen Amerikaner gave the commission a brief orientation on procedures, the Brown Act and, an area of major concern and some unease to most of them, the question of what Amerikaner characterized as Ex Parte communication.
Ex Parte is a situation where a permit applicant or someone opposed to an application communicates with commission members directly outside of the hearing. The city attorney indicated it was perfectly legal as long as they disclose the gravamen of the communications at the time of the public hearing.
Rather than creating a rule that would have stopped Ex Parte communication, the commissioners opted for the more practical approach where they are able to receive oral communication from the parties and to be able to call the parties to arrange visits to property locations before the hearings, with the admonition that if in the future it turned out to be a problem, they could always revisit their decision.
Most commissioners indicated they had no problem with giving out their home number and it was recommended that anyone wanting to communicate with them could call Planning Department Secretary Roberta Morowitz at the city, 456-2489 Ext. 245, to obtain phone numbers or to make contact arrangements.
In commission action members:
-Approved, in a 5-0 vote, a change in both the general plan and the zoning ordinance relating to the zoning of a particular parcel that had been erroneously zoned originally as public open space, when, in fact, it was intended that it be Single Family Medium, which was consistent with the surrounding area.
-Approved in several 4 to 1 votes (Kabrins dissenting) a new 2-story, single-family home of 4,295 square feet with attached garage, swimming pool and spa at 27495 Latigo Bay View Drive on a steep hillside. Kabrin’s objections went principally to the proposed terrace, which went off the pad and the house, and had the appearance of three stories though it was actually two stories. Rather then eliminating the outside terraces, the commission approved it and gave the architect an opportunity to modify the terrace design. They also turned down as unnecessary a suggestion by the city biologist that a large wall be built at the base of the lot.
-Approved 4 to 1 (Carrigan dissenting) a proposal to construct a 8,524 square feet (6,541 sq. ft. primary residence plus garage, guest house and covered patio) house and an 882 square foot basement at 27454 Winding Way. Neighborhood character and public views were the primary issues and most on the commission felt that the architects redesign and attempt to accommodate the commissions earlier objections overcame the objection of some that the hillside house might be too big for the site although within the allowed size in the zoning code.