City Council approves Malibu Middle and High School Specific Plan

The Malibu Middle and High School Specific Plan was the most discussed and highly signed-up item during the Malibu City Council meeting on Monday, July 11. The council also discussed and passed Item 6a, Woolsey Fire Rebuild Option, and the Potential Transaction and Use Tax Measure. 

Before council addressed the items on the agenda, City Manager Steve McClary provided a city manager update, Environmental Sustainability Director Yolanda Bundy announced the Dark Sky Ordinance hearing scheduled for Aug. 8, and Public Works Director Rob DuBoux provided an update on the Public Safety State of the City. DuBoux also announced Caltrans’ decision to terminate the hybrid beacon project near Malibu Seafood.

Sheriff’s Lt. Chad Watters provided an update on the vandalism that occurred on Tuna Canyon on the Fourth of July weekend and said the suspect has been found and arrested. 

“As far as reaching out to the community for that, giving us enough information as they had really, really helps,” Watters said. “If you have information on a crime that is committed against you or committed to the person next to you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. These are the kinds of things that really help us get through a case and really find a way to solve them.”

As for the council action regarding Malibu Library Set Aside Fund for fiscal year 2022-23, Councilmember Mikke Pierson said the funds are not going to the Malibu Library. 

Planner Raneika Brooks presented the Malibu Middle and High School Specific Plan to the public and council. The plan was requested by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District to establish and develop standards and plans for the redevelopment of the former Juan Cabrillo Elementary School campus and the existing Malibu Middle and High School campus. 

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The plan will be implemented in four phases over the next 10 to 15 years. This item was originally scheduled to be considered by the City Council on June 13, but continued to June 27 to allow SMMUSD additional time to resolve outstanding concerns related to traffic and circulation.

The recommended action is for the council to certify and adopt the findings required by the California Environmental Quality Act, certifying the adequacy of the Final Environmental Impact Report, and adopt the Mitigation Monitoring, Reporting Program and the Statement of Overriding Considerations.

The report included the Final Environmental Impact Report, Local Coastal Program Amendment, General Plan Map Amendment, Zoning Map Amendment, and Zoning Text Amendment. 

Full build-out of the specific plan will accommodate up to 1,200 students, but the traffic impact analysis was limited to 1,000 students due to declining enrollment and the belief that it is unlikely that the site will reach a 1,200-student capacity. SMMUSD has subsequently updated the traffic analysis based on a 1,200-student capacity and identified mitigation measures to be implemented if student enrollment exceeds 1,000 students. A mitigation measure has been added to the MMRP which requires updated traffic impact analysis based on student population projection to be provided with each coastal development permit application for the subsequent phases of the Specific Plan. This will ensure the appropriate measures are identified and implemented to reduce potential impacts to traffic and circulation.

According to the report, the narrative in the traffic reports was inconsistent with the data provided in the figures and tables. These inconsistencies have been adequately addressed. The circulation and queuing impacts along Morning View Drive were incorrectly based on the existing student drop-off and pick-up locations, and not the reconfigured circulation pattern proposed in the Specific Plan. The traffic impact analysis has been updated to reflect the proposed circulation plan and the potential queuing impacts have been adequately addressed.

Since the item was not included in the Adopted Work Plan for fiscal year 2021-22, there is no fiscal impact associated with the recommended action. This project is part of normal staff operations.

The Planning Commission recommendations include, city to monitor compliance with the MMRP, Traffic Analysis, the pool lighting and entire campus to be in compliance with the Dark Sky Ordinance, marquee sign be oriented towards the campus and away from Morning View Drive to reduce aesthetics impact and be turned off every 30 minutes. There was a lot of follow-up for the elimination of parking lot F on the north side of the campus. Residents nearby were concerned with the traffic, noise and lighting impacts. The school district agreed with the recommendations and has since moved parking lot F from the the scope.

To view the full recommendations, visit malibucity.org/virtualmeetings.

Brooks said staff received an updated specific plan from the school district on Friday, two days before the city council meeting that would affect exhibit a, but staff was not able to review the changes. If the changes are consistent with the current version of the project, that would potentially be updated.

Malibu’s representative Craig Foster asked the council to approve the plan. 

“Let’s take this next step for our children and their teachers towards ultimately approving this specific plan and the related amendments in your next meeting,” Foster said.

Fifteen speakers signed up to speak on the plan, most in support of the plan and others against some of the upgrades. Some speakers were against the pool lighting being in compliance with the Dark Sky Ordinance, while others were in support.

SMMUSD Malibu Pathway Director Isaac Burgess spoke in support of the specific plan. 

“By adopting this tonight, you will not only benefit our students, staff and families, but the entire Malibu community,” Burgess said. 

Chair of the Malibu Facility District Advisory Committee Carl Randall spoke during public comment in support of the project and thanked city and school staff for their ongoing effort and support. 

“It’s been more than four years of effort to get here this evening,” Randall said. “This project is just a part of a three-pronged approach to bring Malibu kids back to Malibu schools.”

After public comment and rebuttal, Brooks answered some questions and concerns and said each phase will still require coastal development permits. 

Mayor Paul Grisanti motioned to approve the specific plan and the changes shown by Brooks, and Councilmember Karen Farrer seconded the motion, with Councilmember Pierson in approval as well. Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein and councilmember Steve Uhring voted against. Motion passed 3-2. 

The next item on the agenda was Item 6a, Woolsey Fire Rebuild Option 4. Planning Director Richard Mollica presented the report and the request direction from the council. The recommended action was to present information regarding the history of the processing of fire rebuild applications and comments from the California Coastal Commission; review the options on how to process applications for fire affected properties that include new development and or modifications and additions over 10 percent of the fire-damaged structure. This item was included as item 2.a. in the Adopted Work Plan for fiscal year 2021-22.

Local California Coastal Commission staff have advised city staff that they do not agree that Option 4 complies with the city’s Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan (LIP). This process has been listed on the city’s website since March 31, 2019, as an option for homeowners who own a property that was damaged or destroyed in the Woolsey Fire to apply to rebuild. Currently, under Option 4, an applicant would apply for Planning Verification (PV) to allow for the replacement of the previously existing single-family residence (allows up to a 10 percent allowable increase in size) and once that application is approved, the property owner can apply for a subsequent application to allow for additional development, such as an addition, up to 50 percent of the pre-fire structure’s size, including for a larger water tank, landscaping, new pool or other accessory development that could would be exempt from the requirement of a Coastal Development Permit had the main residence not been destroyed by the disaster. The report described the history of Option 4, the dispute in interpretation, the impact of eliminating Option 4, and the options available to the city.

Multiple residents including Woolsey Fire victims spoke in support of option 4.

“We’re responsible for the representations we make, and the city is no different,” Public Safety Commissioner Josh Spiegel said. “The city held people’s hands and lead them down a path to rebuild their home and the city needs to stand by these people, no matter the cost, no matter the consequences.”

After council rebuttal, motion was carried.

Deputy City Manager Elizabeth Shavelson presented the Potential Transaction and Use Tax Measure. Council was advised to receive report on potential Transaction and Use Tax; direct staff to bring back resolutions to submit the question to the voters, setting priorities for arguments and rebuttals; direct the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis; and consider directing staff to hire a consultant to educate Malibu residents regarding the potential ballot question. The last day to adopt the resolution is by the next City Council meeting on Aug. 8. 

“In order to pass, the resolution must be approved by a super majority of the council so 4 out of 5,” Shavelson said.

The council voted to not hire a consultant and bring back a contract version to consider hiring a consultant to educate all the residents regarding the potential ballot questions. The motion passed.

After Farrer appointed Public Safety Commissioner Josh Spiegel to the Homelessness Task Force and the council voted for Mayor Grisanti to attend the League of California Cities 2022 Annual Conference in Long Beach in September, the meeting adjourned at 2:45 a.m. 

The July 25 meeting is canceled, with the next City Council meeting scheduled for Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Location to be determined.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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