Malibu Inn Motel Coastal Development, conditional use permit decisions held

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Commissioner Dennis Smith recommended council member John Mazza resign from commission 

During the Planning Commission Special Meeting, last week, restaurants and retail joint parking agreement and the Malibu Inn Motel project were on the agenda. Before the items were discussed, commissioner Dennis Smith began by announcing his recommendation to council member John Mazza to resign from commission. 

“There’s no reason in the world that he should be on the commission after insulting staff the way he did in the Jefferson Wagner affidavit,” Smith said. “There’s no reason for him to continue to be on the commission if he’s harboring those kinds of feelings about staff that he feels like it’s ok to insult them like that.”

Smith’s camera froze before he was able to finish his comment.

“The point being is that this isn’t going to work; you need to go because not only did you insult staff, but you insulted consultants that worked for our city,” Smith said. 

Smith continued to name the names of people Mazza insulted.

“You don’t deserve to be on this commission at all,” Smith said. “So I hope the tools are in place, and if the department head wants to make this charge to have you removed, they should.”

Councilmember John Mazza said he was not going to resign.

Assistant Planning Director Adrian Fernandez began with the Malibu Inn Motel coastal development and site plan. 

Fernandez summarized the staff recommending that the planning commission adopt the proposed project as conditioned.

The new construction is located in the Commercial Visitor Serving-1 zoning district at 22959 PCH (Surfrider Plaza, LLC), which includes a new 7,693 square foot, 20-room motel above a new subterranean parking garage, surface parking lot, rooftop deck with swimming pool, spa and bar area, grading, retaining walls, landscaping, and a new onsite wastewater treatment system.

The first public speakers that were representing the ownership of the Malibu Inn were Alexander and Steven Hakim. Alexander spoke and said they were going to build an office-retail center, but that changed to the Malibu Inn Project. 

“We strive to listen to the voices of the community, which is how we ended up with this project… There was a resounding need for additional hotel rooms,” Hakim said. “We will fill a much-needed void this city so desperately needs in providing more affordable motel rooms and help curb Airbnb problems which have plagued this city.”

Hakim said they would provide 42 parking spaces that meet the city codes and guidelines. 

“We are very much ready to bring a first-class operation with excellent service that the city can be proud of to this great city,” Hakim said.  

Hakim explained that they have approval from the coastal commission and hope to provide this project to the Malibu community. 

Architect Doug Burdge was on the call and said this project would be beneficial for not only tourists and friends and families who are in town but for when there’s a natural disaster. 

“We can’t be thinking of these places as just for the tourist when there’s a natural disaster, and you stay at a motel or hotel, and they have the generators working, and you’re able to stay there whether you have a leak in your house from a fire or flood,” Burdge said. “We look at this as a service, we need motel rooms, and this is an incredible use.”

Public comment followed, and speaker Judy Ettinger showed support for the Malibu Inn Motel project and said it would be a great addition to the community.

“I do agree that we need a hotel and new growth in Malibu; it is long overdue,” Ettinger said. “I have a lot of relatives that come out of town that would enjoy a pool with a restaurant, especially in that location with the view of Malibu and the ocean. I look forward to having a new hotel for my friends and family to visit California.” 

Long-time residents who support the project said the Malibu Inn Motel is perfectly located across the Malibu Pier and is well designed.

“It’s very surprising that Malibu has so few rooms, for visitors, friends, and locals that will love to spend time in a hotel with these kinds of amenities when friends and family come to visit, they always comment on the lack of logic and Malibu is such a beautiful location,” Jack Eliopoulos. “Having more lodging will help alleviate the often unwelcome Airbnb use and help small businesses in Malibu severely affected since Woolsey.”

Eliopoulos said the height of the retaining wall shouldn’t be an issue when there are other commercial properties in Malibu with the same height walls built. 

“I don’t see why this is an issue,” Eliopoulos said. “It will be a welcome addition to Malibu.”

Lisa Sockolov said the Motel Inn Motel fits perfectly in the immediate commercial visitor-serving area and would help bring revenue and support small surrounding businesses. 

“Ownership and planning staff seem to have really done their due diligence and met all the code requirements,” Sockolov said. “I’m tired of looking at that empty, abandoned parking lot; it would be so nice to see some life and vitality brought to this section of Malibu.”

Some residents raised concerns about the parking, construction, traffic safety, and design of the project.

Former council member Jefferson “Zuma Jay,” Wagner said residents and businesses owners have reached out to him about traffic and slope stability and said the Hakim family have been fair with him and his business on PCH and won’t impact other motel inn’s.

Scott Dittrich commented on the overflow of employees occupying the parking on PCH and suggested an employee study be done to evaluate how many employees there are.

“Take the most crowded spot in Malibu and make it worse…I stand against it,” Dittrich said. “I really hope you will go back and protect Malibu and protect our rural character and just deny this project; it’s the wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong spot.”

After a lengthy public comment, the Malibu Inn Motel architect Burdge answered some of the concerns the residents mentioned during public comment.

“This is only a motel, it has no restaurant, it has food service, the same food service set up as we have at Surf Rider and that’s a nice feature to have, it’s not a restaurant, it’s not open to the public, there’s no additional public for the restaurant,” Burdge said. “So it’s a hotel-motel; it’s used for hotel motel guests only.”

“I just really want to thank the commission and especially the staff,” Steven said. “They’ve been working with us on this project for many, many years now, and they work tirelessly for the city, and we really appreciate them helping and guiding us to work within the confines of the code to what we feel will make the neighbors proud, the residents proud and the visitors proud.”

After public comment, council members were able to speak on the project with any issues.

Councilmember Mazza disagreed with some of the statements that were brought up by the public, saying the project has a threshold issue.

Assistant City Attorney Trevor Rusin said this is the determination for the water district to make.

“This project is going to depend on the order of the water board and their interpretation of whether this constitutes the same project or if it does not,” Rusin said.

After about an hour of rebuttal, disagreement, and arguments, Rusin suggested council members reach out to staff with any additional information and return to the public for a chance to comment. 

Council was not able to discuss the first item and will be continued along with the Motel Inn project on Apr. 4.