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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Experimental City View Restoration Ordinance Implementation on Tap

• Participants in Six-Month Trial Program Might Be Only Ones Eligible to Regain Views

BY BILL KOENEKER

Municipal planners want the Malibu City Council next week to review the proposed interim view restoration program and its notification methods and to appropriate $5256 to get it up and running.
After the dust settled on what kind of view restoration ordinance council members might endorse, they directed staff to develop a program to solicit and process, within a six month period, view assessment applications from any homeowner wishing to restore a view that existed “any time since the date of acquisition or city incorporation, whichever is more recent, unless the property was acquired without a developed, legally-habitable structure.”
Planners explain how the city currently has a primary view determination (PVD) process to document the views of property owners who are concerned about new structures or new landscaping blocking their view.
Under the current code, not everyone can request a PVD; only property owners who are responding to a development project that includes new structures or landscaping that may cause an obstruction of their primary views can request a PVD, according to a staff report.
“Furthermore, once a PVD has been established, it may not be changed,” the staff report notes. “For future property owners or future concerns regarding new structures or landscaping on other development projects.”
“The current PVD process will remain in place and unaffected by the View Restoration Program. Since the existing process is referred to as ‘PVD’, staff is proposing to refer to views evaluated under the View Restoration Program as view assessment applications in order to distinguish the two processes.
“The View Restoration Program is broken down into the following sections: Purpose: Solicit view assessment applications from any person wishing to restore a view that existed “any time since the date of acquisition or city incorporation, whichever is more recent, unless the property was acquired without a developed, legally-habitable structure.”
“Staff will obtain factual matters regarding the view determination applications such as the amount of view assessment applications received, the quality of evidence of a pre-existing view, the amount of time and difficulties involved in reaching a resolution.
“Staff will also select two or three view assessment applications as case studies.
“Staff will report back to the city council with the results of the View Restoration Program at a later council meeting, at which time the council will consider whether to adopt an ordinance, which would apply view restoration rights retroactively to participants of the View Restoration Program.” The staff report goes on to say, “If property owners must apply under the program to be eligible to participate in a future restoration ordinance, it is imperative that every effort is made to notify all property owners in the city. Several different methods will be used to notify property owners,” the staff report states.
Staff proposes to start the program on March 26, 2012 and end it on September 26, 2012.
“An implementation start date of March 26, 2012 will allow approximately two weeks for the outreach portion of the program to be executed. Property owners wishing to participate in the program would need to submit an application, pay a fee of $260 and submit evidence of a pre-existing view.”
Staff has prepared several forms to assist applicants of the program.
The results of the View Restoration Program will be reported at the Oct. 22, 2012 city council meeting.
“This will allow staff two weeks to analyze results, conduct two or three case studies and prepare an agenda report,” the report notes.
According to planners, in developing the View Restoration Program, there are several items for council’s consideration. Costs to implement the program: The existing fee required for a PVD is $260. The $260 fee was established by calculating the cost of city resources required to conduct a site visit and document a primary view.
Currently, according to planners, if a PVD is requested by a property owner in response to a development project, staff resources relative to analyzing the view obstruction and the actions necessary to resolve the view obstruction are partially recouped by fees collected for the development project.
Planners noted if staff only collects a fee of $260 for the new view assessment application, the fee will not cover staff’s time required to analyze the view assessment applications.
Assuming the council wants staff to recoup only the costs related to conducting a site visit and documenting the primary view, staff anticipates that some property owners will have already received a PVD.
Under those circumstances, no fee will be collected.
Planners will explain the cost associated with implementing the program depends on the methods used to notify and solicit participation from property owners.
The council will also hear about the impact of view assessment applications. Hopefully everyone, especially property owners, will be listening. It can bear repeating.
Property owners are permitted one PVD. Once a PVD is established, it may not be changed for future owners or in response to future development projects.
However, the staff is proposing that view assessments documented under the View Restoration Program be treated differently.
“At the conclusion of the six month implementation period, property owners may choose to have their view assessment become their final PVD. “At that time, if the city council decides to adopt an ordinance that would apply view restoration rights retroactively to participants of the Program, the city could use photographs from the participants view assessment files as PVDs.
“If the city council does not move forward with an ordinance, property owners can choose to either make their view assessments as their final PVD or retain their PVD rights provided by current code for a future development project.
“This would allow property owners the right to claim a primary view even if they participated in the program and have a view assessment that differs from their primary view,” the report states.
In what may be one of the more controversial elements of the proposal, the planning department is suggesting any future ordinance only be applicable to program participants.
The rationale, according to planners, is the council directed staff to develop a program to solicit information from property owners, who are interested in restoring views that existed any time since the date of acquisition or city incorporation, whichever is more recent.
The council told the staff to design the program so that only program participants would be eligible for the restoration rights of a future ordinance if the council decides to adopt an ordinance.
“The city attorney’s office has advised that the city needs to devise a plan that puts people on notice that the city is providing an opportunity for property owners to have view determinations and that future restoration regulations may be enacted that might apply only to those who have had a view determination,” the staff report concludes.

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