City to construct water treatment

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facility at Cross Creek

The water treatment facility will treat storm water and dry weather flows from storm drains that already exist at Civic Center Way, Cross Creek Road and Malibu Road.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

The Planning Commission unanimously approved a measure at its meeting on Monday to help curb pollution of the city’s watershed.

A coastal development permit was granted to the city for construction of a storm water treatment facility that will be located at the northwest corner of Civic Center Way and Cross Creek Road.

The facility, which will be enclosed in a 560-square-foot, 15-foot-high building, will treat storm water and dry weather flows from storm drains that already exist at Civic Center Way, Cross Creek Road and Malibu Road. The facility will then discharge the water into Malibu Creek.

With new rules coming down from the Regional Water Quality Board about the amount of nutrients that are allowed to enter the watershed under the threat of severe fines, the city must find a way to clean its watershed. In addition to this facility, the city has been trying to raise money to create a sophisticated wastewater/storm water treatment project that could utilize the Chili Cook-Off property, the 20-acre property stretching along Pacific Coast Highway from Webb Way to Cross Creek Road that has been offered to the city for $25 million. The project would also involve the Wave property, a site located behind the old City Hall on Civic Center Way of which Pepperdine University has agreed to donate two acres in exchange for development benefits on the rest of the 9.2-acre property.

Commissioners differ on legal technicality

The commission voted 3-2 to affirm former Planning Manager Mike Teruya’s approval of a coastal development application for a porch and second floor addition to a home on Debutts Terrace. Former city council candidate John Mazza had appealed the project.

Mazza had challenged the appeal because it had received administrative approval from the planning manager. Administrative coastal development permits are granted to projects that are considered less significant and do not require further approval by the Planning Commission. They are presented to the commission as informational items. But if a majority of the commission decides any of the projects need further review, they are then placed on a future agenda for commission consideration. Also, a member of the public can request a hearing with the Planning Commission at which he or she could plead a case for the commission to hear the item as a full CDP application at a later meeting.

Mazza argued the project should not have been limited to an administrative approval because he believes the home is on a ridgeline and the project did not strictly follow the ridgeline standards of the Malibu Local Coastal Program’s Local Implementation Plan. This means the applicant would have to seek a variance, which cannot be granted through the administrative approval process.

At Monday’s meeting, all the commissioners except Vice Chair Les Moss said when the project was originally presented to them as an administrative coastal permit application, they probably should have requested it be brought back before them as a regular CDP application. But they questioned whether it would be a good use of time to honor Mazza’s request. Had the commission sided with him, it would have meant the project would go before the commission at a future meeting for a regular CDP, being the third time city staff would be working on the project and the third time it would be presented to the commission.

“I really don’t see what purpose it would serve to bring the item back,” Anthony said.

After the commissioners expressed these sentiments, City Attorney Gregg Kovacevich said if they believed the item probably should go before the commission as a regular CDP application, then they must vote for that. He said they could not legally consider whether it would be a waste of time to do it, because that was not the issue before them.

Chair John Sibert and Commissioner Regan Schaar voted in favor of Mazza’s request, while Moss, Anthony and Commissioner Carol Randall voted against his appeal.

Following the meeting, Mazza said, “With this vote, the commission considered what they were not asked to consider.”

Mazza said he would probably appeal his request to the City Council. If Mazza goes through with the appeal, the council would be asked to consider whether the permit application should go before the Planning Commission for a regular CDP.

K for outdoor movie equipment. Opening of farmer’s market is stalled as Cornucopia seeks permit.

By Jonathan Friedman

Assistant Editor

After much debate, the City Council on Monday approved the $23 million budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year, with $14.9 million allocated for general fund uses and the remaining total for capital projects.

The budget was not easily approved as the usually agreeable council spent significant time debating whether to approve the purchase of equipment to show outdoor movies in Malibu, while eliminating some of the money designated toward Malibu Coastal Vision.

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich proposed to her peers that the city invest $50,000 to purchase equipment to show outdoor movies. Wallace Theaters, owner of the New Malibu Theater (which was closed due to the Cross Creek Fire and may not reopen for more than a year), had proposed to show outdoor films on the weekends during the summer at Bluffs Park beginning this weekend. But that plan fell through when it was decided it was not financially feasible. Conley Ulich said the city should involve itself to make outdoor movie screening possible because of the importance of having things to do for Malibu youth, despite this investment meaning the city would have to make budget cuts elsewhere.

“Everyone’s belt is tight right now, but this is a need that we have to address,” Conley Ulich said.

The council voted to spend $30,000 on the theater equipment. David Lyons, the former vice president of concessions and marketing at Wallace Theaters who is currently working as a consultant for the company, said he would look into how Wallace could pay the remaining sum. A meeting was expected to take place on Tuesday with City Manager Katie Lichtig, Lyons and The Malibu Times publisher Karen Portugal York on a possible joint venture project to show outdoor movies. The proposal is to begin with showing non-first-run (newly released theatrical) films. Lyons said first-run film screening could be a future option.

Malibu Coastal Vision, the city-funded nonprofit group that is working to create a long-range vision plan for the city through community meetings and research, was hit the hardest from the council’s approval for the theater equipment, with $30,000 of the $90,000 it expected to receive next fiscal year being eliminated. The council decided to take away $15,000 that was designated for the Coastal Vision Web site and another $15,000 that was designated for a fundraising effort. However, the council does not control Coastal Vision’s budget, so it could rearrange its priorities and use money designated for other purposes to cover Web site and fundraising costs.

Mayor Pro Tem Ken Kearsley, the biggest supporter on the council for Coastal Vision, opposed the cuts.

“To rob Peter to pay Paul is not the way to run a city,” Kearsley said.

Kearsley also opposed purchasing the theater equipment, saying, “Do we really want to get into the business of movies? I just can’t see it [working] in a city where the people have 52-inch screens and can slip a DVD in and invite their friends.”

Kearsley was the only one on the council who voted against cutting the money designated for the Coastal Vision Web site. Councilmember Jeff Jennings joined him in voting against cutting the money for the fundraising. Jennings said in an interview on Tuesday that he hopes Coastal Vision could raise money for its project, and taking away money from its fundraising efforts would be contrary to that goal.

In response to the council’s decision, Coastal Vision head Rich Davis wrote in a letter to The Malibu Times, “We are disappointed with the City Council’s decision to reduce our funding. We will need to rethink and possibly modify our process as a result, but we remain committed to ensuring that Malibuites shape the future of Malibu.”

The council also voted to increase the city’s contribution to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District from the proposed $139,834 to $294,834, the same amount it gave in the current fiscal year. With no money available from the general fund to pay for this, the council dipped into its $2.4 million fund set aside for construction of a city-owned City Hall. If there were a major disaster in the city, the money would be returned to Malibu.

Farmer’s Market stalled

During the meeting, Remy O’Neil from the Cornucopia Foundation, which runs the Malibu Farmers’ Market, asked that the process be accelerated for Cornucopia to obtain the necessary permit to operate the market. The market was supposed to have opened in April, but cannot until a solution to a zoning issue is found. It was discovered last year that the Civic Center property where Cornucopia holds its weekly market was not zoned for commercial use. Cornucopia has since applied for an amendment to the city’s zoning code to allow it to operate the market.

City planner Raneika Brooks-McClain said in an interview on Tuesday that the city has hired a consultant to work on a solution, but the process has taken a while because the Planning Division is understaffed. She said city staff is looking at granting Cornucopia a temporary use permit to open the market while the zoning amendment issue is researched. A temporary use permit would need to be reviewed by several county agencies and circulated around the public for at least 32 days. However, it cannot be appealed.

O’Neil said in an interview on Tuesday that she understands the city is looking into granting the temporary use permit, but she is frustrated that the process appears to be “going on and on.”

Chili Cook-Off issues

City Manager Lichtig announced that the city is looking into several grants and other sources to raise the $25 million needed to purchase the Chili Cook-Off property. She said a consultant would have a proposal prepared for the council next month to go over plans to finance the purchase of the property and a wastewater/storm water treatment project.