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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Proposed Views Issue Assessment Refined

• Change Advocated without Notice to Four Council Members

BY BILL KOENEKER

Municipal planners wanted the Malibu City Council this week to review the proposed interim view restoration program and its notification methods, and appropriate $5256 to get it up and running.
However, that is not exactly what they got after the council again initially waivered on what it wanted and then made changes to what they had called for at the last session.
“I met with Mike Sidley and his comments were very convincing,” said Councilmember John Sibert. “This is not where I started out. Asking $260 for no guarantee if the ordinance is passed? Mike’s comments about the issue of the city providing [an individual] enforcement of a [civil] action. I’m sorry if I complicated this.”
Two weeks ago the council directed the 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 once existed.
However, Sidley seemed to have convinced Sibert that a different approach altogether should be taken.
Sidley, at this week’s meeting told the full council, “I urge you to jettison this project. Take the existing ordinance and make it retroactive. Give the people the tools to enhance their property values. Let people go to court. The losing party [must] pay the attorney’s fees. Give the people the ability to restore views they lost. No six-month project,” he said.
“Then we cannot vote on this tonight. No one has seen what you are talking about. It could go to the next city council meeting,” said Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich.
“It is a mistake to wait,” said Mayor Laura Rosenthal. “I have not heard about Sidley. I want to go forward. If the staff takes the pictures, then they will just look at two or three?”
The planning director said yes, they would study two or three cases, but they would look at all of them, but only analyze two or three.
City Attorney Christi Hogin said the Sidley proposal is expanding on an idea that has been on the table. The idea is creating a right that can be enforced by civil law. “To give a fair airing to Sidley’s ideas, you should not act tonight. He is suggesting the courts adjudicate that right.”
“It is consistent with the ordinance we just passed. The six month project is too complicated, plus the $260,” Sibert added.
However, the mayor said a lot of folks could not afford the potential costs. “The people wanted the city to enforce these decisions. I’m OK giving back the money if we don’t approve it. I think the 6-month project is a good idea. It is not the same 17 people. I think there are 100s. I think it is a great compromise,” Rosenthal said.
After some deliberation, the council unanimously agreed to keep the six month interim project, return the $260 if required, and include brightly colored mailings for a notification system.

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