Councilmembers disagree with permitting process during the zoning subcommittee meeting


During the City of Malibu’s Zoning Ordinance Revisions and Code Enforcement Council Subcommittee meeting on Wed, Oct. 12, staff considered modifications for temporary use permits for seasonal events and low-impact city events.

City of Malibu Contract Planner Joseph Smith started the meeting with a ZORACES review from the April 14 meeting, which addressed considering allowance for TUPs for a series of events beyond the 14-day limit, include thresholds into the TUP process if the Planning Commission will be used; enforcement of TUP issues and violations, and events operated under an existing conditional use permit not required to obtain a TUP.

Smith presented two proposed changes for TUP amendments for consideration.

Version 1 includes community-sponsored, art-related events in city-owned spaces; TUP exemptions for arts, cultural, and educational events at city parks and City Hall; events with 100 or less attendees and no admission fee; and events that require minor clean-up to reflect electronic processing. 

Version 2 includes the same requirements as well as additional process improvements, public scrutiny of TUP requests, updated application requirements, and an improved purpose statement. 

Smith said examples of major TUP requests include real estate sales/rental offices, construction yards, circuses and carnivals, any event exceeding 14 days or 30 days for seasonal, any additional event exceeding six annual events per parcel or the cumulative 60-day annual limit, and other requests found to require enhanced public review. 

Smith said minor TUPs are albeit limited to certain TUPs, adding strict adherence to request criteria, and uses standard TUP noticing with an option to appeal to the Planning Commission.

The meeting went on to public speakers and about a dozen speakers, some of them on behalf of the Malibu Film Society, spoke and addressed the difficulties with hosting events in Malibu. 

Malibu Film Society Executive Director Scott Tallal addressed the difficulties with hosting film screenings in Malibu. 

Malibu Arts Commissioner Barry Haldeman is on the Board Of Directors, and said the Malibu Film Society screenings is a place where “we can heal our town of the divisions that have surfaced.”

“We’ve been that kind of place for 12 years without any interference from the city,” Haldeman said. “The city even gave us grants, we feel the city somehow wants to prevent our screenings because of the position they have taken on the TUP. We need the city to work with us to allow the Malibu Film Society, a nonprofit organization, to continue in the way we have in the past with over 60 screenings per year.” 

Haldeman asked the city to change the ordinance to accommodate the Film Society’s needs.

Malibu Pacific Church Pastor Andy Vomsteeg also spoke, hoping the city will allow the MFS to host events. 

After speakers addressed their concerns, Councilmember Steve Uhring was opposed to having the MFS host several films in Malibu and said they still need to get a TUP to do so. He also raised his concerns with the fire danger and traffic hazard for surrounding neighborhoods. In his efforts to provide a resolution, he offered them to host films at City Hall, but Tallal said the films they screen need a specific surround sound to experience the full production. 

Councilmember Mikke Pierson was in favor of having the MFS host events in Malibu and continued to provide solutions.

“This is absolutely mind-blowing to me that there is nowhere to go see a movie in Malibu. I’m not going to blame anyone, but we need to solve this,” Pierson said. “We need to make this happen — this is anti-community, this is anti what Malibu stands for … and at some point we have to honor our community and we are taking way too long to figure it out.”

Uhring raised concerns on the large-scale events and said they are a negative impact to the community and nearby neighborhoods. Uhring agreed with having small cultural events in Malibu without having to obtain a TUP.

Pierson asked if there was another venue they could use, such as Pepperdine University, but Tallal said that could be costly. 

Uhring continued to be opposed to having 60 films screened in Malibu.

“The churches are simply trying to make this available as part of their community outreach, and we want to help them do that,” Tallal said.

During the meeting, City Manager Steve McClary said Point Dume was experiencing a power outage so some speakers were dropped off the call. They stopped public comment by then.

Pierson said they would come back to the item and hope to add it to the City Council meeting agenda for further discussion. 

Uhring moved on and mentioned the Malibu Farmers Market and asked how they could relocate the market from the Malibu Library parking lot to across the road on Legacy Park. The farmers market has struggled to fit all its vendors due to the Santa Monica College construction. 

Planning Director Richard Mollica said he wished Public Works Director Rob DeBoux was in the meeting to ask if the farmers market can relocate to Legacy Park.

Based on the subcommittee input, staff will prepare the amendment and present it to the planning commission for recommendation to the City Council, and if adopted by the City Council, the amendment would become effective at its second reading.