Code Enforcement Task Force closes in on goal

For homeowners who have lived in fear that an unpermitted addition or modification to their home may be found by the city and penalized, there may be good news.

A subcommittee of the Code Enforcement Task Force, headed by James Schoenfield, has drafted recommendations, that were accepted unanimously by the entire Task Force. The recommendations are intended to help unpermitted structures to be legalized, at a reasonable cost to the homeowners.

The recommendations would allow homeowners to obtain permits for structures that were built without any. Since proving when additions were actually built has been an expensive and often difficult task, the way the subcommittee handled it was to recommend the creation of a rule that presumes additions or modifications were built at the same time as the primary structure on a property. The applicable law would be the one that was in existence at the time the original structure was built.

Also, to control costs, the subcommittee recommends that fees do not exceed $1,500 in aggregate.

“They are responsive to public needs,” said Anne Hoffman, spokesperson for Malibu Homeowners for Reform, a group that was instrumental in moving the city toward code revisions.

“We’re happy that they have been doing something for the public interest,” she said.

While some were concerned that the recommendations were too liberal and could lead to widespread misuse, ultimately the group voted unanimously to accept the recommendations about improvements to residential properties as written.

In a previous interview, John Miller, chairperson, emphasized the task force’s role. They are making recommendations that will go through three other steps before they go to the City Council for approval.

“There is a protocol of flow for this and our recommendations will go to building and safety, planning and legal,” he said.

The task force also discussed minority reports since some members were concerned that the council may not hear the voices of those who opposed some of the recommendations.

The task force voted to report a vote count to City Council in future recommendations and suggested that minority reports can be initiated by task force members if they so wish.

The group also voted unanimously to approve an Interim Zoning Ordinance subcommittee report that allows a cap of 28 feet for height without having to go to the Planning Commission, unless there is a blockage of the primary view.

The IZO recommendations also discussed facilitated setback guidelines, geology requirements and more.

The task force will meet Sept. 5, at City Hall, and will vote on code enforcement policy and planning department procedural recommendations.

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

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