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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Activists Study Try for City Ballot Measure Curbing Development

• Strong Local Support for Preserving Community Character Could Translate into Votes for Curbs

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Community activists are joining together to discuss crafting a ballot initiative that would give Malibu residents the right to vote on future large development projects in the city.
The move is a response to increasing frustration and anger in the community over the estimated million-plus square feet of development currently in the planning process for the Civic Center area.
Projects currently in the planning phase include the 440,400-square-foot Rancho Hotel project, 80,000 square-foot Malibu Bay Company development, 38,400-square foot “Whole Foods in the Park” plan and the 55,700-square-foot Crummer subdivision adjacent to Malibu Bluffs Park. The 132,000 square-foot La Paz project has already received approval.
“This is the first step of residents standing up and taking Malibu back,” initiative proponent Steve Uhring told the Malibu Surfside News.
Activists are looking at Measure P, the “Malibu Right to Vote On Development Initiative” that was passed by voters in 2000, but was superseded by a city-sponsored initiative that limited the scope of the residents' right to vote on development projects to the Malibu Bay Company's proposed developments in the Trancas area and on the property that is now Legacy Park.
The original Measure P ballot measure was intended “to amend Malibu’s Interim Zoning Ordinance and General Plan, instituting voter approval for construction or expansion of commercial, industrial or combined commercial and residential buildings with a ‘total development square footage’ of over 25000 square feet, provided such development: a. requires a variance or conditional use permit, or b. increases density of allowable current zoning limitations, or c. permits construction or widening of a public roadway,” according to city documents.
 “‘Total development square footage’ in the original initiative included projects developed by the same owner or certain related parties on the same lot or adjacent lots,” the initiative stated.
The ballot measure would have applied to a construction plan or project that had not received “all city, state and federal approvals and permits as of the measures effective date”
With Measure P, the Malibu City Council would be required to hold three public hearings, following public notice, prior to approving any project, subject to the voter approval requirement.
Proponents of the new initiative effort say that the purpose and intent is the same as that of the earlier effort: “to preserve the unique natural resources and low-density residential character of the City of Malibu; allow commercial and industrial development which is consistent with and preserves the natural environment and provides for significant open space; prevent increased traffic congestion and sewage problems and to minimize fire,  earth movement, flooding, liquefaction, pollution and runoff danger; and give city voters the right to approve certain projects.”
The prospective ballot initiative will receive independent legal vetting before being submitted to the City of Malibu attorney.
If the measure meets the legal criteria, the city attorney would then write a summary. The summary, along with the detailed language of the initiative is placed on the documents used to collect voter signatures to place the initiative on the ballot.
The measure would require approximately 900 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

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