Read their lips: No new business license

Despite its own instruction to city staff and the Business Roundtable to propose a licensing program for businesses operating in Malibu, the City Council Monday rejected a proposal to transfer an L.A. County-administered business license program to the city. The council also voted to discontinue entirely the city’s participation in the county licensing program by the end of June.

A Business Roundtable subcommittee, working with City Manager Harry Peacock, drew up a proposed licensing program last fall that would have established an annual flat fee for storefront and home-based businesses. Under the proposal, the city would also have assumed the county’s responsibility for licensing certain categories of businesses in Malibu that may impact the public’s health and welfare.

The full roundtable rejected the proposal and recommended that the council not adopt any business license program.

But believing that the council wanted some kind of licensing program, city staff recommended the city take over the county’s licensing of local businesses. Those businesses include health clubs, car rental companies and ambulance companies.

But if any of the council members ever supported a business license program, their support apparently dried up when the public last year began airing its opposition to such a program.

The business community came to Monday’s meeting to voice their opposition to the proposed, more-limited licensing program mainly out of concern that it would snowball into one that would apply citywide.

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Jeff Peterson, president of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and general manager of Geoffrey’s, said he feared a future City Council would try to expand the limited licensing program. “The Pandora’s box would be opened up,” he said.

Councilmen Harry Barovsky and Tom Hasse, who were not on the council when the staff was instructed to draft a program, came out with the strongest opposition to the proposal.

“I’ve stated emphatically over the years that I try to avoid taxes as much as possible,” said Barovsky. “I don’t want to tax the community any more than they’re already taxed.”

Upon hearing from City Attorney Christi Hogin that the county is collecting its licensing fees at the city’s behest, Hasse motioned that the city discontinue its participation in the county program by the end of June, unless the county can justify the need for the program.

“Kill it unless we otherwise have some new and exciting evidence to keep it,” he said.

In other matters, the council adopted improved security measures for City Hall, including closed circuit television and the installation of a gate at the front counter to restrict entry into the staff’s area. On Mayor Walt Keller’s motion, the city will also now require visitors to wear passes when they go anywhere behind the front counter.

The council also agreed to apply for funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for proposed projects along PCH, including a traffic signal at Serra Road and a bus turnout at Zumirez Drive.

The city may also add to its holdings on Las Flores Canyon Road. The council agreed to make an offer of $25,000 to the U.S. Marshal Service for three unimproved dirt lots in the 3900 block of Las Flores Canyon Road. The properties are in the city’s flood control district and can not be developed for housing.

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

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