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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Housing Element May Be Next Major Arena for Public Debate on Planning

• Organization Forms to Offer Alternatives to Rezoning

BY BILL KOENEKER

On Monday night, the Malibu City Council got a little preview of the public’s reaction to the staff’s proposal for the housing element.
The discussion and the scoping meeting is this Wednesday after the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
Officially, it is called the General Plan housing element update, which city officials say will “establish new policies, goals and programs for the entire city.” The municipality also plans to develop a “program to upzone a limited number of parcels to accommodate the city’s required housing needs as determined by the Southern California Association of Governments [or SCAG].”
Steve Rucker, president of the Malibu West Homeowners Association, urged the council to postpone preparation of the Environmental Impact Report “until we can have a discussion on this.”
The scoping meeting is the first official public hearing for the consultants, Rincon Consultants, Inc to start work on preparing an EIR.
Malibu West resident Lynn Norton said she had several suggestions for providing affordable housing beside upzoning properties. She suggested the city permit mixed-use zoning by allowing residential units within commercial zoning for affordable housing and spreading it across citywide.
The upzoning, Rucker said, is “an incredible gift to developers.”
Rucker endorsed the mixed- use concept and also talked about the city creating an inventory of second units and granny flats for inclusion into any kind of affordable housing plan.
Another Malibu West activist, Cindy Vandor, said the city council “has inherited a housing element mess.”
Vandor suggested the city challenge the numbers provided by SCAG.
She questioned how the small population gain during the last 10 years in the city could make Malibu’s numbers climb from 14 units required to the current 441 units of affordable housing posed by SCAG.
“Without the correct data, postpone the EIR. What is there to study?” she said.
The state requires that housing elements be updated and certified every five years to reflect the most recent trends in demographics and employment that may affect existing and future housing demand and supply.
More public workshops are planned including what is called a draft update and EIR public hearings.

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