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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Planning Commission Airs View Ordinance at Public Workshop

• New ‘Hybrid’ Measure to Be Unveiled for Commission’s Consideration on Nov. 16

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Nov. 16, when the planning panel will conduct a public workshop on a proposed view preservation ordinance.
This is the second workshop the planning commission has conducted. A formal hearing will be scheduled later when the commission will make its recommendations for city council consideration.
The staff indicated the proposed ordinance is a “hybrid” ordinance based on the feedback it got from the last workshop and some of the items that were included in the draft ordinance created by the View Preservation Task Force’s version.
The outline for such a hybrid, according to the planning staff, would follow certain steps such as beginning with a discussion about how certain foliage must be removed or thinned to restore a primary view of the claimant.
The next step would be mediation, then, binding arbitration followed by an advisory opinion from the city and then possible court action.
“The structure of the draft ordinance is similar to that of the City of Rolling Hills Estates View Protection Ordinance” wrote a staff planner.
Since Malibu’s last public workshop, Rolling Hills Estates has adopted a view preservation law.
The staff report lays out more details of the various recommended steps, such as how mediation should be between the two parties and a third neutral party.
If that did not work out, then arbitration would follow, a more formal procedure, utilizing a third party such as a judge or attorney either active or retired.
In binding arbitration, the decision of the arbitrator is enforceable pursuant to state code.
An advisory opinion is a process by which the claimant pursues the city input on the view dispute. Evidence can be submitted. The application could be heard by the View Preservation Committee, which would issue a non-binding, non-appealable decision.
“If all means of dispute resolution fail to yield an agreement between the parties, as described in the ordinance, the claimant may initiate a civil action in court,” the staff report goes on to state.
Planners insist they have accomplished the planning commission goals in several ways. It provides a role for the city in the mediation process, which will assist residents in resolving a view restoration claim. Since mediation is planned early in the process, it brings the parties together at the beginning in the most cost effective way before each party has become fixed in their opinion.
By providing three free hours of mediation, it will encourage property owners to come in and discuss the matter and resolve the view issue claim since there is no cost to the parties.
The staff also recommends that by making the committee’s decision an advisory one rather than a final one could help reduce costs to the city because the municipality would not be involved in the enforcement of the decision.
Limiting city involvement to nonbinding advisory opinions greatly reduces any potential litigation costs to the city, according to planners.