Planning Commission motion to continue the antenna tower to a date uncertain 

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The sheriffs substation is located beside the Santa Monica-Malibu Campus. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The opening of the sheriff’s substation is also delayed due to inadequate staffing

The Planning Commission took more than half of its Monday, June 3, meeting to address the satellite antenna located at the Santa Monica College (SMC)-Malibu Campus, as well as at the sheriff’s substation located beside the campus.

“The bottom line is this: the City of Malibu and the citizens deserve the finest public safety they can get, the County of Los Angeles is committed to providing that, and this tower is essential to further our commitment,” Malibu/Lost Hills Sgt. Chris Soderlund said at the Planning Commission meeting on Monday night. 

The emergency communications facility includes the substation for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s, and a variance to include height up to 86 feet, 8 inches from a previously approved 75-foot tall tower.  

Since the tower was erected in 2022, during the construction of the SMC campus, community members have said the tower is not in compliance the City of Malibu and the city and planning staff have been working with the county to bring the tower into compliance.

Representatives from the county attended the meeting in person to answer lingering questions. 

Malibu residents attended the meeting to speak against the antenna tower. 

“I’ve seen the other towers that exists, and they don’t look like that monstrous thing out there,” Malibu resident Scott Dittrich said. “We do need a communication tower, there’s no question about it, [but] is this one in the right location?”

Members of the Malibu Township Council submitted a letter to Chair John Mazza and the Planning Commission. 

“The Applicant violated the generous height allowance of maximum 75-feet height above then — existing grade (variance #14-035) by adding fill material around a raised foundation and retaining wall for its pole structure resultingin an increased height above ground level,” the letter states. “The pole should be painted a beige color that matches the COLOR OF THE college, and ALL lights must be removed as the FAA does NOT require them. You can currently see the pole not only from Legacy Park but from Pacific Coast Highway in its tall, unsightly glory. MTC requests denial of this application as there are communications towers already in force that are much lower and completing the same tasks. The County cannot try and profit from this HUGE eyesore with all the safety risks caused from this pole.”

Planning Commissioner Kraig Hill said his main concern was if the tower is in compliance with the code. 

“The point is, can we keep it just as safe and do it in a less invasive way?” Hill said. 

The delay in the opening of the sheriff’s station was also a concern. In a previous interview, Councilmember Doug Stewart said, “the county has said we cannot open the substation until all outstanding issues are cleared up.” 

“There’s no estimated time for it to open, it all has to do with staffing,” Soderlund said. “We can’t open it without adequate staffing.” 

The commission also discussed the possibility of relocating the tower. The county said moving the tower in the mountains would not provide a proper signal. 

“This isn’t following the city ordinance to begin with,” Mazza said. “Any other solutions you have, can you make it look like a Christmas tree? Does it absolutely have to be that height? Could it be a sage gray?” 

The Planning Commission motioned to continue the item to a date uncertain and have the applicant return with alternative locations, height, design, and the potential reduction of the tower.

To view the public notice visit malibucity.org/DocumentCenter/View/34116/21-day-PHN_Wireless-TowerFinal.