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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Council OKs CUP Process for Civic Center Malls

• Staff Directed to Bring Back Ordinance on Formula Leasing


The majority of the Malibu City Council after hours of public testimony and deliberations on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilmember Joan House dissenting, directed the staff to come back with a draft ordinance requiring a Conditional Use Permit for any new formula business leasing in a shopping center of 10,000 square feet or more in the Civic Center.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal, who offered the motion, had earlier talked about what she called a friendly amendment deleting previous language in her motion that addressed diversification by requiring 20 percent resident-serving business in those same shopping centers.
The council took action after hearing from over 30 speakers, who were divided in opposing an ordinance or urging the council to move forward with regulations.
“We can do the same thing with design standards,” said Councilmember  House. “There is no clear picture of where we want to go.”
Rosenthal urged her colleagues on by saying this was one small step. “This is just one piece so the stores we like can stay,” she said.
Despite objections from business owners and the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, Rosenthal said, “Is asking for a Conditional Use Permit outrageous? But it is only in the Civic Center.”
Though they opposed the CUP process, the mayor and House were adamantly opposed to addressing the diversification issue. “I’m like Joan, I don’t want to be the poster child for a diversification ordinance,” said La Monte.
Rosenthal countered, “Diversification should not be a problem. The only problem is if we lose all of our local businesses.”
“A lot of cities have retail formula bans. We can start small. There are a lot of different people here now that can shop in any of those Civic Center stores,” she said.
“Another layer of government is not the answer,” House had said earlier during the deliberations.
Councilmember John Sibert said he and city officials had been working on how to sustain community serving businesses over the last two years and he hoped everyone would compromise.
“But there has been nothing but demonization. There has been no attempt to find a middle ground,” he said. “There is instead a lot of nasty mean stuff,”  he added.
House reminded council members of times they did not listen to legal advice and the city got sued.
A 19-page memo from City Attorney Christi Hogin reminded the council it has to address whether there are current city goals that require a diversification or formula business regulation.
Hogin, who was not at the meeting, had her law partner/husband Michael Jenkins attend the session. He agreed with Hogin’s summation that the council was entering uncharted legal waters.
The council also discussed other processes involved in changing the CUP process and was told the matter would have to be approved by the California Coastal Commission as a municipal Local Coastal Program Amendment.
Staff also was told to come back with a report on diversification. No timetable was set.

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