Planning Commission spends first half of meeting addressing Nobu incident 

Planning Commission meeting on Monday Aug. 21.

Assistant planning director says it’s up to the fire department to enforce over-capacity events

Despite the uncertainty of the tropical storm that occurred on Sunday, the Planning Commission met on Monday to review one item on the agenda — the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure and Decorum. The brief meeting started off with a commissioner’s comments regarding recent parties and events and spent the first half of the meeting addressing the Nobu incident. 

Commissioner Dennis Smith started of the commissioner comments with letting residents know they can come to the city for their permits.

“If we’re going to get people to come in here to get permits, we need to try to help them,” Smith said. “We can’t have them afraid to come to us, we’ve got to do our best here.”

Commissioner Kraig Hill raised a few concerns with the Trancas Bridge project. He was concerned with the height of the bridge if they considered sea-level rise.

“It seem’s like they didn’t do what we thought they were going to do,” Hill said.

The existing 96-year-old, 85-foot-wide, 90-foot-long concrete bridge, constructed in 1927, is being replaced with a new concrete bridge 105 feet wide by 240 feet long. It will have two 12-foot traffic lanes, bike lanes, separate pedestrian lanes and 10-foot shoulders on both sides. Northbound and southbound traffic will be separated by a 6-foot median. The original project completion date of early 2024 could potentially be delayed to early 2025.

For events and parties that have been occurring, Hill wondered if the city is favoring “private commercial interests over community interest.”

“I don’t know if this a question of staff performance, or do we need new ordinances, or it’s a matter of culture,” Hill said. 

Hill also raised his concerns about the Nobu incident.

The latest incident at the popular, high-end destination seafood establishment on July 4 caused a traffic nightmare and was apparently the result of an unpermitted event that was attended by as many as 700 guests. The event was unpermitted despite requiring a (TUP) Temporary Use Permit. A TUP is necessary for an event with more than 100 people in attendance. Concerns with the incident are still being raised by city and community members during public meetings. 

During the City Council meeting on Aug. 8, Malibu/Lost Hills Capt. Jennifer Seetoo gave an update on the incident and said for two weeks they will have two parking enforcement officers and one motor deputy on the weekends and see if additional resources are needed. Councilmember Doug Stewart said there should be a limited capacity at Nobu and said the fire department should be able to enforce and shut down any event that is over capacity. 

“I think Doug Stewart had it right, that they have a fire department capacity number on that building and it’s surely less than 700 people that they had at that party,” Hill said. “That would seem like an enforcement issue, but that seems like we’re just allowing the sheriff and private party to say, ‘Yeah, let’s negotiate some deal that doesn’t really take the rest of the public’s interest into account.'”

Vice Chair John Mazza responded to Smith’s comments about permits and said there needs to be “consistent information and consistent enforcement.”

Assistant Planning Director Adrian Fernandez provided an update on a few comments commissioners raised on the permitted and non-permitted events such as a Broad Beach party that occurred last week. 

“Regarding the private party, unfortunately, we don’t have a special event permit that limits the people to 300,” Fernandez said. “There is no noticing requirement for event permits, there is a 31-day notice for TUPs, and the permit was issued on Wednesday, so the community was notified of the event on Thursday, which is typical. We issued the permits before the end of the week.”

Fernandez responded to the Nobu incident.

“It’s up to the sheriff’s department, not the code enforcement, to enforce events, and it’s also up to the fire department to enforce capacity within the building,” he said. “They [fire department] we’re notified and it would have been up to them to remove people if the number of people within the building exceeded their maximum capacity.”

The Planning Commission moved on to the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure and Decorum. The commission addressed chair rotation and what time to consider new agenda items during meetings. 

At the June 19 regular meeting, the Planning Commission directed staff to bring an amendment to Resolution No. 12-59 modifying the terms of chair and vice chair elections to four five-month terms followed by one four-month term to better align with City Council election cycles for discussion and possible adoption.

Mazza was the only commissioner concerned about the chair and vice chair terms.

“I think we should quit playing politics, everyone gets to be chairman once,” Mazza said. “We haven’t been following this anyway, because I haven’t served in nine and a half months.”

Commissioner Smith said he has no issue with the chair rotation and the length of time someone serves. 

Commissioner Jeff Jennings said he has no problem with the way things are, but also said the reason why they nominated Skylar Peak as chair and Mazza as vice chair was because they wanted to have more efficient meetings.  

“It had nothing to do with your opinions or the way that I felt how you would vote, it was the fact that we were trying to make it more efficient and move along a little more quickly, and that’s not your priority,” Jennings said to Mazza.

Mazza was appointed on January 2021. His appointment ends on January 2025. Mazza was appointed as vice chair in June this year. 

The Planning Commission consists of five members who are residents of the City of Malibu, each appointed by a City Councilmember to serve a four-year term. A new chair and vice chair are elected by the commission each year. Individuals may serve on only one commission, board, or committee at any given time, in accordance with Council Policy No. 48 – Opportunity to Serve

Hill said he was concerned with cutting speakers off during public comment and said the City Council should be able to let people finish a thought during public comment.

“This last council meeting was brutal, staff just cut the speaker off right at three (minutes) right in the middle of a word and you should have the discretion to let them take an extra three seconds to finish their sentence,” Hill said. 

Peak, Jennings, and Smith said they had not seen any issues with cutting speakers off during public comment and said if the speakers need more time, it’s under the discretion of the chair. 

“I think that we’re going to continue to operate the way we have been operating here, and I don’t think that we’ve had that problem in the Planning Commission and I hope that we will not,” Peak said.

Peak said he was also open to giving people additional seconds to finish their thoughts. 

Peak motioned to support all the changes made and Commissioner Jennings supported the motion. Mazza abstained. Motion passed 4-0.

The next planning commission is scheduled for Sept. 5.