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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Critics Dispute Consultant’s Approach to Updating Malibu’s Housing Element

• Residents Want Alternatives to State Numbers and Options

BY BILL KOENEKER

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.”
Several dozen residents showed up at last week’s scoping session to challenge the municipality’s approach 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].”
Speakers made several recommendations, telling the consultants they should approach the problem in a different fashion.
Those who advocated for the city to challenge the numbers of affordable housing mandated for Malibu were told by consultants that there is no successful way to challenge those numbers.
Though Malibu’s population rose by a minimal amount in the last 10 years, there were 441 units of affordable housing assigned to Malibu compared to 14 a decade ago. Some of the speakers said that was not fair to the community.
The consultant said that the city must allow a minimum number of housing units per acre to accommodate those numbers.
If there are not enough vacant parcels to accommodate those numbers then some properties must be rezoned.
The consultant also told the audience that there is no effective means to change SCAG’s numbers.
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.
Consultants conceded that the mixed use concept might work instead of rezoning.
Members from the Malibu West Homeowners Association 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.
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.
Some members of the public seemed to groan when told the next public hearing was planned when consultants had finished a draft document saying it would be ready by November, but then backed away from that timetable.
On the previous Monday night, the city council got an earful of the public’s reaction to the staff’s proposal for the housing element and learned those speaking did not like what they had already heard about the upzoning of properties.
Most of the vacant parcels are in western Malibu, where the Malibu West HOA members see the proposed changes as a red flag.
Broad Beach homeowners were also represented by an attorney who said that an EIR would not be enough detail to allow for upzoning and the California Environmental Quality Act would require much more environmental review on each and every parcel.

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