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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

City Council Hires Consulting Firm for Rancho Malibu Hotel EIR

• Members Want Contracts for Supplemental Report Expanded to Cover Full One on Developer’s Dime

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council this week approved a contract with a consultant for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report, insisting a supplemental EIR was inadequate for the Rancho Malibu Hotel.
The consulting firm is Santa Barbara-based AMEC Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc., which will be paid $158,786.
The services provided by the firm will be paid for by the developer operating as Green Acres, LLC.
Activists such as Patt Healy urged the council to require more study than a EIR supplemental.
“This is the largest project ever to come before you. We are not talking about just a hotel. It is a hotel/condo. The owners can stay four months per year. It does not resemble the former plan. The condo project takes up all of the flat space. It is not like a Bel-Air hotel,” Healy said.
Attorney Fred Gaines, who said he was the counsel for Green Acres, LLC, the developer, which he said is Richard Weintraub and partners, are paying the same amount, $200,000 for the supplemental, as if it was a full EIR.
Activist Susan Saul said the EIR must study the cumulative impacts of the Civic Center when the hotel is built out and so many other proposals are also finished.
“Imagine when Pepperdine’s new stadium is built and having a game, when the college is running its entertainment programs, when the new Nobu restaurant and other new restaurants are open for business, when the new shopping centers are built. Analyze the projects as if they were built out,” Saul said.
Councilmember Lou La Monte said he read the scope of work for the EIR Supplemental. “And it reads like a full EIR. We will have the information.”
Councilmember John Sibert said there was a hotel that was already approved by the city. “This is different. The properties that we saw there was not a two-story basement. It is like a timeshare, but still acts like a hotel. We need to take a hard look at this. This is a major project for Malibu. Traf-fic is an important part of it,” he said.
Councilmember Jefferson Wagner said he still supports the hotel project that was approved 15 years ago. “But the project has changed, there is a huge amount of concrete. They did the EIR 15 years ago. I support a hotel, but I support a full EIR,” he said.
Before there were more council deliberations, City Attorney Christi Hogin, interjected that there was only two tasks before the council.
“Before you is a financing arrangement. We need to proceed. The city does not fund it. There are two contracts before the council, the city and consultant, and the city and the developer. The issue of the supplemental is premature. We can strike supplemental from the contract. This is not the night to decide supplemental. This is the night for the contracts,” the city attorney said.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said she would not support it.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal said she agreed with Wagner and would ask for a full EIR.
Planning Director Joyce Bozylinski said, “If the council wants a full EIR, we can strike the supplemental [in the contract], talk to the consultant about the timeline and possibly additional costs.”
“Is there a way to incorporate work force housing?” asked the mayor.
“I’m not sure it is in the EIR. We could see if the zoning would allow it,” the planning manager answered.
Hogin responded, “We are getting way ahead of ourselves.”
The rest of the council concurred on a full EIR and agreed to the two contracts.
The EIR consultant AMEC has proposed a project timeline of eight months to complete the EIR Supplemental and complete certification by the planning commission, according to a planning staff report.
The application calls for a 146-room luxury hotel on a 27.8-acre vacant parcel located on the northeast corner of Malibu Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway.
The plans consist of a 141,428-square-foot main building comprised of a 82,036-square-foot basement, which includes a spa and fitness center and a first and second floors, including a lobby area, retail, restaurant, banquet and meeting facilities, according to city planners.
The guest rooms and suites are located within casita-type buildings totaling 133,873 square feet. Two swimming pools and 543 parking spaces are provided. The 165,259-square-foot parking structure will house the majority of the parking.
That is a total of 440,560-square-feet of building space, which makes it four times the size of the Malibu Colony Plaza shopping center.
There is a ten-page synopsis prepared by a city planner of the history of the project as it wended its way through the approval process since 1984.
The staff has determined that the Conditional Use Permit is still valid, but the site plan review has expired and a new SPR will be required to move forward on the project.
A new coastal permit from the city will also be required, though the project received a permit issued by the California Coastal Commission, but was never evaluated under Malibu’s Local Coastal Program, according to municipal planners.

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