Weintraub named top candidate to rent lumber site

Weintraub Financial services will build a “high-design ‘horticultural center’ featuring sales of decorative plants and related uses, as well as other quality retail tenants.” In other news, the city rescinds an agreement with developer Trancas PCH.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The City Council on Monday approved an agreement for exclusive negotiation between the city and Weintraub Financial Services, headed by Malibu resident Richard Weintraub, on a deal for Weintraub to rent the old Malibu Lumber property on the city-owned Chili Cook-Off site.

Weintraub is partnering with Richard Sperber, a Malibu resident and president of the major landscaping business, ValleyCrest Companies, for the proposed project at the site.

The city and Weintraub have a 180-day period to negotiate a lease, according to the agreement approved by the council, with an option to extend the negotiation an additional 60 days. The minimum annual rent the city will accept is $925,000, according to the agreement, with the amount being increased by 5 percent every five years. There is also language in the agreement that could increase the rent amount. The term of the lease would be 39 years, with an option to increase it to 54 years.

Weintraub has agreed to pay at least $100,000 to the city for the legal and economic consulting costs of the negotiation. Also, the company will give the city an initial payment of $400,000 in 90 days and $480,000 in 180 days. Weintraub would get those two payments back if negotiations with the city fall through, but only if the city finds another lessee.


The agreement made between the city and Weintraub on Monday does not mean the company will automatically be selected as the lessee of the 2.7-acre property. Rather, it designates Weintraub as the exclusive candidate to negotiate with the city for the next six months. Eight others have submitted proposals to Malibu to rent the property. They could become candidates again if negotiations between the city and Weintraub are unsuccessful.

The agreement states that Weintraub plans to build a “high-design ‘horticultural center’ featuring sales of decorative plants and related uses, as well as other quality retail tenants.” The city has a say in the approval of the project’s design.

Weintraub told The Malibu Times last month that he was interested in creating a project that would be “an incredible garden design center surrounded by amazing restaurants and retail woven throughout the center.”

Council rescinds Trancas

PCH agreement

Meanwhile, the city’s relationship with another local developer continued to deteriorate at Monday’s meeting as the council voted to officially rescind its 2003 settlement agreement with developer Trancas PCH for the development of a 35-acre property located on Pacific Coast Highway off Trancas Canyon Road. The agreement was ruled illegal on several grounds last year by a Court of Appeal panel. The council also terminated an agreement with the developer regarding its original lawsuit against the city that led to the formation of the 2003 settlement agreement.

During the public comment portion of the hearing on the item, Trancas PCH partner Dean Isaacson, a team of attorneys and several supporters spoke in opposition to the council’s action. They further said the city should begin a new negotiation with Trancas PCH, and Isaacson said he was offering many items including the donation of a portion of the land to build a ball field and money for construction. He also provided a petition with 2,000 signatures of people wanting a deal.

The council members were limited on the comments they could make during the meeting, because City Attorney Christi Hogin said it would be a violation of the state’s open-meeting law to discuss anything beyond the agenda item, which was the rescinding of the settlement agreement and termination of an agreement regarding the original lawsuit. However, several council members said during the meeting that Isaacson had never sent a formal proposal to the city, and they encouraged him to do that.

Isaacson said earlier this year that he did not want to go through the permitting process or propose a new agreement until he knew if the California Coastal Commission would approve a change to the zoning of the property. The city had originally included an alteration of that property’s zoning in the Malibu Local Coastal Program amendment package it sent to the Coastal Commission, but later withdrew that item. Hogin said on Monday that there was another avenue for Isaacson to try to get a zoning change. Isaacson said after the meeting that he had not been made aware of the option by the city before, but he would be interested in it.

Parks removed from city’s LCP amendment proposal

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council voted to remove any discussion of parks from its LCP amendment package. The Coastal Commission staff had recommended last month that its voting body not approve the city’s amendment package unless it supports some adjustments to it, with one being that the definition of a regional park be added to the amendment section on parks. This is something city officials had said previously they did not want. In response, the city staff recommended the entire park section be removed from the city’s amendment proposal. Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Jennings was the lone council member who did not support this, saying it could sour the improving relationship between the city and the Coastal Commission on the LCP matter. And he said it could the city’s ability the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s Malibu parks enhancement proposal that will eventually go before the commission.

“We’re simply going to be cut out of the process,” Jennings said. “We’re not going to be given a seat a the table when negotiations go on for the [SMMC] plan.”

The Coastal Commission is scheduled to vote on the LCP amendment package at its meeting next month in Long Beach.

Dolz addresses council on employment of illegal immigrants

Lastly, 41st District Assembly Republican candidate Tony Dolz spoke at the beginning of the meeting, asking for the city to use a federal program that ensures it does not employ illegal immigrants. He made the same comments to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education last week. The scene got intense when Dolz announced his campaign Web site, at which point Councilmember Sharon Barovsky interrupted him to say he could not campaign during a council meeting. Mayor Ken Kearsley then told Barovsky that she was “out of order,” and Dolz continued with his speech.

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

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