Seaboard Road Development to Get Full EIR

Malibu City Hall

After five years of apparent hibernation, a proposed multi-home project that would sit on 32 acres in the Big Rock neighborhood of Malibu was back on the City Council agenda on Monday night, drawing a small crowd of neighbors to argue for an extensive environmental impact report (EIR) to be done before plans are approved.

City Council voted unanimously 4-0 during its Monday, Nov. 23 meeting to approve an additional $85,000 to be spent on the EIR, which will be reimbursed by the developer, though, according to Mayor Pro Tem (and Big Rock resident) Lou La Monte, that amount may well rise.

“I think we should approve it for now, because this is what we’ve got — the $85,000 — but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come back for a lot more,” La Monte said.

The project, which includes the building of multiple homes up to 9,500 sq. ft. off Seaboard Road, was approved by the Malibu Planning Commission in 2008, despite complaints from neighbors who said the small private road would not be able to handle the increase in traffic.

In October of this year, a request for $85,000 toward what’s called a “focused EIR” was made to council. That would have included a number of studies but would not cover the scope of a full EIR. That request was not acted on, and appeared as a full EIR on the Nov. 23 agenda.

“The only thing that’s changed is the name—and I think there is an old saying, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck,” Luzanne Fernandez said during the public comment section of the hearing.

Planning Director Bonnie Blue clarified that the money would go beyond the original request for a focused EIR.

“Just to clarify, this is a full EIR,” Blue said. “There are issues that are mentioned in the scope of work as being of particular interest, but it is a full EIR.”

La Monte and City Council Member John Sibert described the potential issues that many of those who came to the meeting also voiced.

“This particular project is, in our area, the biggest thing we have ever seen. There has never been a project as big as this in our area, ever,” La Monte said. “[It is] twice the size, easily, of the Crummer Project, which had to go through hoops, and their access is Pacific Coast Highway. The access to this project is a nine-foot-wide road.”

Sibert expanded on the issues with the access road.

“I remember that [2010] meeting too well,” Sibert, who was on City Council at the time, recalled. “I said, ‘what kind of sense does it make to put a four-inch hose after a inch-inch hose? which is what you’re doing with these roads.’ It just doesn’t make any sense.”

As for council’s approval of the request, Mayor Laura Rosenthal said that frankly, the city is happy to have developers pay for environmental studies.

“I think most of the other council members would agree — I don’t really care how much extra money it costs for the developer,” Rosenthal said. “Nobody really does projects of this size unless they’re going to make a lot of money.”

Developer Norm Haynie, who spoke on behalf of Breitman Residential Trust — the proposed developers of the 32-acre property — said that his clients were in full support of the expanded EIR.

“We obviously support this,” Haynie said. “We believe that additional monies need to be paid in order to update the focus EIR to a full EIR. We strongly want a comprehensive EIR that looks at all of the issues.”

Council Member Joan House did not attend the Monday night meeting, and Council Member Skylar Peak attended via Skype call.