Measure M loses

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What happens next depends on what MBC owner Jerry Perenchio decides to do. He could develop his properties parcel-by-parcel, sell them, or, defying earlier statements by MBC representatives, renegotiate a new deal.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

Measure M, the Malibu Bay Company (MBC) Development Agreement has been defeated. The final count: 2,133 No votes to 1,522 Yes votes. What happens next is unknown, except perhaps to one man, MBC President Jerry Perenchio.

There are at least three possibilities Perenchio could do with his 12 properties involved in the rejected deal. He could negotiate for a new agreement. He could begin processing applications to build on some or all the sites. Or he could sell some or all, leaving it in other people’s hands to decide the fate for Malibu’s most controversial properties.

Planning Commissioner Richard Carrigan, who was a leader in the successful campaign to defeat Measure M, said he has a good idea what Perenchio will do.

“My guess would be Jerry Perenchio will begin renegotiating on or before next Monday,” he said.

Measure M opponent Rich Fox is also confidant the MBC will renegotiate and offered to help out in any way.

But many of those who supported the agreement do not share Carrigan’s or Fox’s optimism. They say they believe MBC attorney Dick Volpert was telling the truth when he addressed the City Council last month stating this was the final agreement the company was offering, and the next step is to deal with the properties on a parcel-by-parcel basis.

Mayor Ken Kearsley said, “I take [Jerry] Perenchio at his word that he will not renegotiate.”

Volpert and MBC spokesperson David Reznick refused to comment for this story.

A number of the measure’s dissenters, however, say it is not necessarily a bad thing that Perenchio or somebody else will attempt to build on the sites. For one thing, they say anybody who tries to get approval to build on properties such as Winter Canyon and most of the other sites the MBC had offered as open space in the agreement will be facing a tough task, because environmental restrictions prevent that from being a possibility. They added that any development on the Chili Cook-Off site and most of the other properties will include less square footage than would have been possible had the agreement been approved.

The Measure M proponents say that is an overly optimistic way of looking at the situation, and that Malibu has now lost its best chance for more parks, a community center, a method to clean the city’s polluted watershed and for limited development.

“With the agreement, [we would have] stopped 150,000 square feet of development,” Kearsley said, who added he believes the city will not be able to find funds for ball fields and to deal with water quality issues.

But that is not a concern for the campaign victors, at least not publicly. They say the deal never actually guaranteed those benefits would be coming to Malibu anyway, because it included too many loopholes. And many of them say the city still has the chance to receive public benefits if the MBC or another developer attempts to get variances to Malibu’s zoning code when applying to build on the various properties.

Now, however, Measure M opponents and the rest of the city must wait to see what Perenchio decides is the next best move.