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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Formula Retail Comment Period Is Ending

BY BILL KOENEKER

The deadline looms for those who wish to comment on Malibu's proposed formula retail ordinance. The last day for city planners to receive comments is April 11.
Once complete the item will be scheduled for a planning commission hearing and then to the city council.
To date over 56 comment letters have been received including from former Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, whose idea years ago initiated the process, Preserve Malibu, whose most recent cause has been the proposed ordinance and various law firms, representing shopping center owners who are against the proposal, according to the city’s website where the comments have been posted.
Senior Planner Joseph Smith said the letters have been trickling in, but he has seen more now that the deadline is fast approaching. “We just got 15 this afternoon,” he said.
The proposed measure consists of an amendment to the zoning code to make formula retail establishments a conditionally permitted use in the Civic Center commercial district of the city.
Formula retail is considered any type of retail sales activity and/or any retail service activity conducted within a retail establishment which, along with six or more other existing operational retail establishments located within southern California and is required to maintain two or more of the following features: Standardized color scheme, standardized décor, standardized façade, standardized layout, standardized signage, a service mark, or a trademark and uniform apparel.
The proposed ordinance would require a conditional use permit for all new formula retail establishments located within the district and for existing formula retail establishments located within the district that relocate to a new tenant space, expand by 200 square feet or more of gross floor area, or increase service area by 50 square feet or more.
The proposed ordinance would not apply to existing formula retail uses that change ownership or existing and new formula retail uses considered grocery, gas stations, or banks and financial services.
The proposed ordinance is intended to regulate the location and operation of formula retail uses within the district in order to avoid the proliferation of elements that project a sense of sameness and familiarity.
“These elements conflict with and frustrate the city's goals of maintaining a unique community character while promoting a diverse retail base with correspondingly unique retail amenities within the Civic Center,” wrote a city planner.
Currently, there is no requirement for conditional review of formula retail establishments in the city.
Most of the shopping center owners in the Civic Center are opposed to additional regulations and have steadfastly maintain that the actual numbers of existing formula retail stores in the various centers speaks volumes about no need to regulate something that is not proliferating.

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