Malibu High School improvement project delayed

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Due to uncertainty over a controversial parking lot plan, the City of Malibu Planning Commission on Monday night delayed a vote on the Malibu Middle and High School Campus Improvement Project until Dec. 3.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s large-scale project includes plans to construct a new academic building, renovate several existing classrooms, create new student drop-off and pick-up lanes, and build a 150-space parking lot.

At an August 7 meeting, the Planning Commission requested amending the project to ensure that there will be no light fixtures in the 150-space parking lot. The commission also wanted an amendment requiring SMMUSD to minimize existing lighting on campus to prevent light pollution and not harm existing views.

While the project was amended by the city planning department to reflect the commission’s wishes, SMMUSD officials requested the resolution be delayed. District officials told the city they are still waiting to verify with the California Division of the State Architect regarding whether state law permits them to build an unlit parking lot.

Commissioner David Brotman was skeptical of SMMUSD’s intentions. He said he did not want the community’s wishes to be overlooked in the school district’s communications with state officials.

“My concern is that [the state is] getting the information one-sided,” Brotman said. “As if to say to them, ‘You don’t want us to build this parking lot without lights, do you?’”

Malibu City Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski told the commission that Malibu’s planning department has also been in communication with the State Architect’s office.

“We will continue our dialogue with them so they will know what action the planning commission took,“ Bozylinski said.

SMMUSD did not have any representatives to speak on its behalf at the commission meeting.

Assistant City Attorney Gregg Kovacevich also advised commissioners to reissue a notice for public hearing on the campus project if they had obtained new, previously undisclosed information that was going to affect their vote on the resolution.

“You have to disclose [new information] and say, ‘Hey, I think I need all sides to weigh in on this again,’” Kovacevich said.

Commissioner Mikke Pierson acknowledged receiving emails that will affect his decision.

Chair John Mazza asked if the commission could vote to approve every part of the Improvement Project resolution except for the lights issue, but Kovacevich said that could not be done and the vote must wait until December.

Commission OKs beer and wine tasting counter at Erewhon

Commissioners unanimously approved a wine- and beer-tasting permit for Erewhon Natural Foods, the grocery store set to open sometime next year in the Trancas Country Market shopping center.

There was some concern about the safety of allowing a tasting counter in the new market, with some commissioners fearing store patrons would be able to consume alcohol inside the store or in a seating area outside of the store.

Clare Bronowski, a representative for Erewhon, said the tasting counter would be clearly limited to a specific, cordoned-off part of the store.

“No alcohol will be consumed on the premises in the seating area or in the market,” she said. “You can’t just wander off with your beverage.”

Erewhon is also purchasing a license for the sale and offsite consumption of beer, wine and spirits from HOWS Market. HOWS vacated Erewhon’s new space at the Trancas shopping center last summer.

Resident Cindy Vandor told the Planning Commission that allowing for tastings at Erewhon could create an increased safety danger along Pacific Coast Highway if drivers make irresponsible choices.

Traffic safety at the intersection of Trancas Canyon Rd. and PCH has been a major concern for locals, Vandor said.

“What we want is to have a safe highway, a safe place to live,” Vandor said. “And right now, that’s not a safe place to live.”

The commission was set to vote on a resolution for an Erewhon parking lot lighting plan, but that vote was delayed until Nov. 5.