|Summary|| This application, by the City of Malibu, was a project-driven Local Coastal Plan amendment for a zoning change from visitor serving use to non-visitor serving for a parcel located at the terminus of Malibu Canyon Drive and next to Bluffs Park.
The zoning change would allow the parcel, which the applicant was referring to now as ‘Malibu Coast Estates’, and would allow for the construction of up to 8 mansions on the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Malibu is known for discouraging visitor serving uses within the City, so the loss of any parcel, especially one as extraordinary as this one, is significant and adverse.
In an effort to overcome any potential concerns by Commissioners and staff, the applicant offered to pay an in-lieu fee of $2 million that has been in the previous application, directed to the Topanga State Park motel restoration, but was changed to be directed to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) as a means of ‘mitigating’ the loss of visitor serving opportunity. The funds are to be used to develop low-cost visitor serving overnight accommodations at MRCA’s Cameron Nature Preserve in Puerco Canyon.
|Outcome Description||There was considerable discussion amongst Commissioners regarding the zoning change with Commissioners Shallenberger and Vargas voicing significant concerns about the loss of rare and important coastal access resources to residential development. Ultimately, the Commission voted 8-3 to certify the LCP and LUP amendments and to allow the high-end residential complex to move forward. In a startling note, towards the end of the hearing, Commissioner Cox asked the applicant to come forward to the podium and then asked if the applicant would pay $4 million in mitigation fees, double of what they had previously agreed to ($2million).|
|Why You Should Care|| The loss of any visitor serving use in the coastal zone is problematic, especially in Malibu. It is also concerning when a Commissioner requests a substantial increase in mitigation fees right before a vote to approve, or deny, the proposed amendment, saying: “Would the applicant be willing to increase the mitigation fee from $400,000 to $800,000 per unit for the 5 units being proposed…”
Yes, mitigation fees are important and necessary to balance out the development of land and to provide other public access resources. However, a request for increased mitigation funds that appear to have no prior explanation of a basis or formula for how the amount was calculated, undermines the intent of the Coastal Act process and suggests that applicants can get approval for their projects if the checks they write are large enough.
|Decision Type||Local Coastal Program Amendment|
|Staff Recommendation||Denial as submitted, but approved with modifications|
|Lobbyist/Agent|| Susan McCabe, McCabe & Company
Robert Gold, PCH Project Owner, LLC
|Opposition to Project|| Fred Gaines
Dolores Walsch Dolores Gilham, Preserve Malibu
|Coastal Act Policies||30513|
|Mary K. Shallenberger|
View Meeting Page for the meeting where this issue was discussed/voted on.