Planning Commission approves The Ryokan Project after debate over health club conditions and parking requirements

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Screenshot of the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, Dec. 18.

Commissioners continue to argue over the position of chair and vice chair; ends the meeting with a 2-2 vote

The first item on the Planning Commission’s agenda was the rules of procedure and decorum, and rescinding Planning Commission Resolution No. 23-47, and since the re-election of Kraig Hill as chair and John Mazza as vice chair on Nov. 30, the Planning Commission continues to debate over the position of chair and vice chair.

Commissioners expressed their concerns, saying the arguments and discussions have wasted staff and community time. 

On Nov. 30, the commission voted on the motion to strike section 2.I.B.2, which stated, “No Commissioner shall be elected as either Chair or Vice Chair if he or she served as Chair in the four months immediately preceding the election.” The rules of procedure and decorum have been updated to remove that language and subsequent rules have been renumbered.

The item failed with a 3-2 vote.

The commission moved on to Extension of Coastal Development Permit No. 16-024, Site Plan Review No. 18-027 and Demolition Permit No. 19-022. The request is to extend the Planning Commission’s approval to demolish the existing foundation, swimming pool, and spa; abandon the existing onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS); and construct a new 11,170 square foot, one-story, single-family residence, including an attached four-car garage and 992 square foot basement, swimming pool and spa, fire department turnaround and driveway improvements, retaining walls, grading, decks, open-air trellises, two water tanks, hardscaping and landscaping, and install a new OWTS, including a site plan review for remedial grading to remediate slope failure due to failed drainage devices.

The commission motioned to approve the item. The item carried with a 4-1 vote. 

The commission moved on to The Nobu Ryokan Motel and Malibu Tidepool Health Club Project. 

The Ryokan Project consists of a General Plan, Zoning Map and Local Coastal Program mapping amendments from Community Commercial to Community Visitor-Serving-Two for the existing Ryokan Hotel (22752 PCH) and Tide Pool (22762 PCH), a coastal development permit and conditional use permit for the conversion of the existing non-conforming use (motel and adjacent private gym and pool) to a bed and breakfast inn, the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption, and a lot tie for the two lots to operate conjunctively and conversion of office space in the Tide Pool building into a new guest suite for the properties located at 22752 and 22762 Pacific Coast Highway. 

Hill and Mazza said they were both contacted by the same person complaining about the noise. 

“There’s already too much noise coming from the pool area where nobody goes in the pool,” Commissioner Skylar Peak asked. “So there’s no specific, but there’s too much noise coming from the pool area?” 

Mazza continued to compare the Ryokan Project with the Malibu Inn Motel project. Concerns of parking was discussed and Hill said the amount of parking spots for each room was insufficient.

“If you start with 17 rooms, times two, that’s 34 spaces, with six employees, that’s still 40 spaces, and yet they only have 26,” Hill said. “We’re substantially under-parked for the range of uses that we’re talking about here. I find that problematic.”

Alcohol usage was also a concern to some commissioners.

“I think the best solution is to make it a CV1 and allow them to operate legally and in a coordinated way but not expand the intensity use,” Hill said. 

Hill introduced a substitute motion, with a condition stated: the swimming pool should only be used by guests of the facility; all lights must be turned off no later than 10 p.m., and all parking for staff must be provided on site. 

The commission approved the project with a 3-2 vote.

The commission addressed the proposed 2024 calendar and planning commission meetings. The calendar was approved 4-1 vote. 

The commission addressed the Coastal Development Permit Amendment No. 20-068 Site Plan Review No. 21-009, and Demolition Permit No. 20-028 – An application to demolish an existing single-family residence and construct a new single-family residence, second unit and associated development. Peak recused himself from hearing and voting on the item. 

After the concerns about slopes, heights, and, view corridor, the commission denied the Coastal Development Permit Amendment No. 20-068. Motion failed by a 2-2 vote. 

The commission motioned to direct the applicant to bring back the project with adjustments. Applicant Don Schmitz said they would not be able to redo the project with adjustments; they would have to redo the entire house. 

The commission directed staff to bring back a resolution of denial. Assistant City Attorney Pat Donegan asked Mazza what the findings were that were the reason for denial, and Mazza did not answer what was the reason for denial; he just motioned to deny the project.

“I don’t have to do anything, I could make a motion and they can loose,” Mazza said. “I’ll make a finding that I do not have the information to be able to vote for this project on any level.”

The commission motioned to deny the project, motion carrying with a 2-1 vote with Commissioner Drew Leonard abstaining. 

The meeting was adjourned in memory and honor of Lyon Herron.