Planning Commission reflects on last week’s City Council meeting 


Commissioner Dennis Smith was disappointed to see how city staff was treated by the council

To start off the Planning Commission meeting on Monday night, the commission received a presentation from the Planning Department describing the Formula Retail Clearance process established by Ordinance No. 431.

For commissioner comments, Commissioner Kraig Hill reminded the community about the first community lands meeting, which was on Tuesday, May 21, at City Hall. 

The city is launching an extensive outreach and engagement program to gather community feedback regarding the future use of five community lands. Over the next several months, the city will seek input from the Malibu community, including residents, businesses and community groups. This meeting will provide background on the Community Lands project and serve as an opportunity for individuals to give insights and engage in meaningful discourse regarding the future use of the following five vacant parcels of land: 

  • Chili Cook-Off 
  • Triangle 
  • Heathercliff 
  • Trancas
  • La Paz

Those unable to attend the event can provide feedback by submitting a public comment or emailing For a full schedule of community meetings and events, including meeting Zoom links, maps and other information, visit

“Tell your neighbors and have a say in your city’s future,” Hill said. 

There will be an article published on next week’s issue in The Malibu Times

Hill also raised his concern with last week’s City Council meeting on the Malibu Inn Motel project.

“I just think the whole process provided plenty of teaching moments to go around for everybody up here and the staff, and I think one of the lessons for us as a commission is that we should be clear about citing to code when we are making assertions about things,” Hill said. 

Chair John Mazza also said he hopes the community will participate in the meeting on Tuesday on community lands.

“If we have a group of people that have needs that don’t speak up, we still have to consider what’s best for the city and what the uses of those properties are for everybody,” Mazza said. 

Mazza also commented on the last City Council meeting in regards to the Malibu Inn Motel project.

“When certain things are pretty obviously out of wack, it’s up to us as planning commissioners to make sure they make sense,” Mazza said. “To produce a 1,000-page document, have seven-hour hearings, go to the Coastal Commission, and spend a year and a half for two people to get their houses approved is not always necessary if we in the planning commission are consistent and are consistent with reading the codes and definitions.”

Commissioner Dennis Smith said he watched the City Council meeting last week and said it was the most “horrendous thing” he has seen in the city.

“The treating of Adrian Fernandez from two of our councilmembers — not good, that’s bad — and we can’t have that, nobody is above that, nobody should treat someone like that — he’s a staff member,” Smith said. “We can’t treat people like that, we gotta quit it.”

The commission also addressed permits and deadlines. 

“If we approve something to get developed, we want to see it get done,” Planning Director Richard Mollica said. “The goal is to try to do something to encourage things to get built, put back and get our population back and get our community built again to hopefully pre-fire status.”

The commission addressed conditional Use Permit No. 18-003, an application to allow 50 events per calendar year at the Trancas Country Market Shopping Center, including live music performances and movie nights. According to the report, each event is expected to have 50 to 100 attendees.

The center has received support from the community and the tenants who enjoy the events held at the shopping center. The maximum events they hope to have are one to two events per week, maximum one event every three weeks in the off-season (Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend) with 50 to 100 attendees, as well as weekly December holiday music.

Speakers included Malibu West residents who shared their support and said they enjoy the events held at Trancas Country Market. However their concerns are with the live concerts.

“The Malibu West board of directors once again respectfully asks that this matter be postponed until after a TUP ordinance,” one speaker said on behalf of the Malibu West Board of Directors.

Mark Wetton spoke against the center obtaining a CUP (Conditional Used permit) and said “do we really want to create this kind of circus in Malibu?”

For Mother’s Day, Wetton said the center advertised live music, but did not obtain a permit. The Malibu Times attended and covered the Mother’s Day event and observed the event had less than 10 people who participated in the activities. The center had a small table with treats and hot chocolate for guests. The organizer told TMT that despite having to remove the post from social media about live music, they were still grateful to host an event for the community. 

“Holding an event like this should be limited by scope and be a privilege memorialized with the season-by-season basis,” Wetton said. “Rather than allow our shopping centers to double as event centers, I think that we should dedicate some of the city-owned land to create space to hold community events and not put the burden of noise, parking, and security on our residential neighborhoods.”

Smith said he supports the center holding events, but he’s concerned about advertising. 

After a brief break and a heated discussion, the commission motioned to approve the permit. The permit will expire on Oct. 4. 

The next Planning Commission is scheduled for June 3 at the Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m.