Malibu Right to Vote Initiative dominates council attention


The City Council opened the debate on the Malibu Right to Vote on Development Initiative, Proposition P, on the November ballot, and heard a procession of attorneys voice some very different opinions as to the meaning and the constitutionality of the measure. The measure seeks to remove from the council the final say on, among other things, any commercial project larger than 25,000 square feet and instead transfer that decision to the ballot box. The proponents of the measure, the city’s no-growth coalition, led by Gil and Joanne Segel, Marilyn Dove and Marcia Hanscom of the Wetlands Action Network, brought to the council meeting Fred Woocher, a well-known political and land-use attorney to defend the measure.

Woocher said he “disagreed entirely with the city attorney’s opinion.”

Woocher was referring to city attorney Steve Amerikaner’s earlier reiteration of his belief that the measure was constitutionally suspect and also might run afoul of the state’s permit streamlining act with some potentially disastrous consequences, such as the potential automatic approval of any project that exceeded the rather narrow state time limits for action on the projects.

Woocher said he reviewed the measure and the analysis and felt the city attorney’s opinion, which was “supposed to be impartial,” had weighted his analysis against the measure and, in fact, if there were any problems, they were relatively minor. He felt the courts typically try to give any initiative measure the benefit of the doubt and usually stretch to uphold them because they represent the political will of the people.

Attorneys David Kagon and Ted Vaill were in agreement with Amerikaner that the measure had grave flaws. The only thing everyone all appeared to agree on was that, at best, the measure, if passed, would be the subject of some substantial litigation before it was ultimately settled.

The council unanimously and with lightening speed made several general plan amendments and changes to various ordinances to finally settle a long litigated simmering dispute at 27311 and 27315 Winding Way. The changes will result in an 11.7-acre parcel being subdivided into two parcels for the development of two future single-family homes. The council also changed a parcel in eastern Malibu at 19334 PCH, which had been erroneously designated as potential public open space, to the designation of single family-medium density.

The council listened to a number of residents of the Winding Way area who were upset about a series of filming, including one described as an outdoor porno shoot, at a particular location in their neighborhood that involved loud rock music and bright lights. Several voiced complaints that the Sheriff’s Dept. was not taking appropriate action about people who were parking illegally. One neighbor, who has said he had been in the film business for 20 years and had returned from a shoot in Morocco, said there was better police crowd control in Morocco on the set of “Gladiators” than there was locally in Malibu. The council directed staff to quickly look into the situation and take corrective action or to return to the council if action was required.

The council was advised by attorney Frank Angel that the Sierra Club had filed and served a lawsuit against the City of Malibu seeking to void the city’s granting of variances and approval of the go-ahead to finish two ocean-front houses on Latigo Shore Drive. Angel, who represented the opponents of the project and lost in front of both the Planning Commission and the City Council, now represents the Sierra Club in the lawsuit against the city. Angel and the Sierra Club attacked councilmembers Joan House, Jeff Jennings and Ken Kearsley in their media release charging: “Earlier this year, in the days preceding the municipal election, large campaign banners of Jeff Jennings and Ken Kearsley, two of the three council members who favored the variance, were prominently displayed on the illegal, unfinished structures. They were in plain view from Pacific Coast Highway. The third council member who favored the project, Joanne House, has close ties to the projects’ architect/lobbyist Mike Barsocchini. Just a few months ago, House re-appointed Barsocchini to a committee of architects the City Council had convened to advise it on changes to Malibu’s Zoning Ordinance.”

In other action, the council heard staff proposals on how they were moving to handle the often hotly contested beach stringline issue. The council will hold a public hearing Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. at the HRL Laboratories Auditorium.

Barry Hogan, planning director, introduced the planning staff who were all present at the council meeting. With the new hires the Planning Commission brings the department up to full strength for the first time in a long while.

In further action, four additional Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth commissioners were sworn into office: Mose Wintner, Chanel Kass, Caitlin Harris and Alexis Bolter.