Letter: Serving Citizens

Letter to the Editor

Mr. York, with due respect—and I have plenty for you in other regards—some of your impressions as to how the planning commission functions are outdated, perhaps misinformed by biased parties or subject to selective amnesia. You sometimes disparage commissioners for imagined shortcomings. They don’t typically respond, as they should remain above the fray.

That commissioners serve “at the pleasure” of council members just means they can be removed without any showing of due cause (as I was). It doesn’t mean that commissioners are allowed to do council members’ bidding. As quasi-judicial officers, they’re answerable to Govt. Code §65101(a), which requires that they “shall act in the public interest.” That interest is embodied in the laws the public has enacted to govern itself and, subordinately, in public comments. Council members and commissioners can confer, but can’t legally conspire to vote a certain way.

Meanwhile, you’re incorrect that “the commission came up with the idea of downzoning all of Malibu.” That came from council, implementing the LCP requirement that the city “shall discourage ‘mansionization’ by establishing limits on height, bulk, and square footage.” Mikke Pierson asked me to demonstrate how to adjust the TDSF curve because I’m decent at math and Powerpoint. The council then took my merely heuristic example and ran with it, reducing square footage an additional 25 percent. I was as surprised as you must’ve been!

You say that when the TDSF proposal came to us, “nothing anyone said seemed to penetrate to the majority of the planning commissioners.” Actually, we listened to the public and substantially dialed back the council’s proposal so that it would affect only the very biggest mansions, and change nothing on lots of an acre or smaller. About 50 people in town were concerned enough to speak against the proposal; ~95 percent of them walked out of that meeting with all their concerns addressed. Far from being “tone deaf to the citizens,” the commission acted squarely in the public interest.

In future, please ignore less-reliable confidantes, and instead actually attend meetings and speak with commissioners. Skip the armchair whinging and engage more as a citizen.

Kraig Hill