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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Controversial Agenda Items Crowd Slate at Next City Council Meeting

• Members Will Be Faced with Several Difficult Decisions

BY BILL KOENEKER


The council chambers may be jam packed next week when the Malibu City Council takes on an appeal of the permit approvals for Malibu Inn, decides on vacating or not Rambla Pacifico Road and hears about how Malibu Park residents responded to a call for abandoning encroachments on the city’s Busch Drive easements among other agenda items.
The staff has a laundry list of Malibu Park residents’ concerns and suggestions about improving safety on Busch Drive.
The majority of residents present at a recent public workshop appeared to approve of improvement., There seemed to be a consensus not only about removing the encroachments but also about the need to make the roadway safer for drivers, pedestrians and equestrians.
The staff has suggested the council could consider several options including conducting another workshop.
The first workshop was held last month when 35 folks attended.
The meeting/workshop could be held to ask the public to narrow down the type of pathway that could be placed along the shoulder of Busch Drive, such as pedestrian or equestrian or both. The staff is also asking if the council should direct them to begin preliminary designs showing different types of pathways and their costs.
Another suggestion, according to the staff, is simply to have the council decide to direct the staff to clear out a path five to eight feet wide on one or both sides of the roadway and leave it in its natural state for a pathway.
Another agenda item is an attempt to reverse the Malibu Planning Commission’s approval of the permits and other entitlements for the Malibu Inn restaurant. The appeal is being made by two neighbors, who hope they have the ear of the city council.
Robert Allan and Klaus Obermeyer are appealing the commission’s approval of a Conditional Use Permit and joint use parking agreement for live entertainment and a liquor license with operating hours between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m.
The commission established a maximum restaurant seating capacity of 94 patrons and a maximum capacity of 340 patrons for entertainment events in the 8900 square foot commercial building.
The joint use parking agreement calls for the required parking spaces to be located on an adjacent property.
The appellants fought an uphill battle before the commission when many local folks including the mayor threw their support behind the inn and said it would help bring customers into an area of Malibu’s commercial district, which would help other businesses. Mayor Jefferson Wagner owns a surf shop nearby.
However, the appellants claim there was not enough information about parking for the commission to approve a joint use parking agreement.
The appellants also contend the number of patrons allowed for each event will snag traffic circulation and create noise until the early hours of the morning since the inn can close at 2 a.m. and be open again in five hours.
In a staff report prepared for the council hearing, the recommendation by the planning department is for approval.
“After careful examination of the appeal statement and all of the evidence in the record, the staff believes that all of the required findings for approval of the project are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
Accordingly, the staff recommends the city council deny the appeal and approve the project.”`
In other action, the city council hearing on vacating Rambla Pacifico Road is back on the agenda after being taken off previous agenda.
Despite a staff report recommending the council could go forward with a vacation of the road, the city attorney at a previous hearing sought to postpone the matter. More than a half-dozen hearings have been scheduled and subsequently postponed some without explanation.
The Lower Rambla Pacifico Road Owners Association is trying to build a private emergency access road to reopen Rambla Pacifico Road, but keeps running into legal roadblocks.
A public works staff report recommends the city vacate the road and indicates the city is prepared to do that now.
The report, prepared by the city’s senior engineer, states city officials have finalized the legal description and associated map and “are ready to vacate the road easement.”
However, City Attorney Christi Hogin said she was still looking into the matter and at a previous hearing said she wanted to sort out the lengthy process and called for continuing the matter.
The ROA had pleaded with the city council at still another meeting to not go forward with the vacation until they finished their road.
The engineer’s report indicates the city’s road easement does not give the municipality the legal right to permit construction of a private road.
The city can only retain the easement or vacate it. The public road easement cannot be transferred to individual parties nor can it be sold by the city, according to Senior Civil Engineer Robert DuBoux.
The staff report recommends the city not retain the public road easement or obtain any other easements within the roadway as the street would then be subject to public road standards and the road must be accessible to the public at large.
Otherwise, the city might incur liability or be partially liable or perceived to be responsible for private hillside and roadway operations and maintenance, according to the report.

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