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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

All Sides Will Have Plenty of Time to Prepare for the Next Phase of Process on a Local Formula Retail Ordinance

• Controversial Issue Expected to Attract Large Turnout at Planning Commission Session

BY BILL KOENEKER

Malibu Planning Department officials have indicated that the proposed formula retail ordinance that has been slowly wending its way through the bureaucratic process is expected to be on the municipal planning commission’s agenda on July 15.
The commission would be expected to make a recommendation for action at that time and send the matter on to the city council.
Planning staff have been going through hundreds of comment letters. The deadline for comments on whether the city should adopt formula retail controls on local businesses occurred in April.
Comment letters have been received from a vast array of interested individuals, including former Malibu City Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, whose idea years ago initiated the process,
Preserve Malibu, a loose coalition of residents concerned with Malibu quality of life issues, 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 written comments have been posted.
The proposed draft 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 decor, standardized facade, 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, if not all, of the shopping center owners in the Civic Center are opposed to additional regulations and steadfastly maintain that the actual numbers of existing formula retail stores in the various centers speaks volumes about a lack of the  need to regulate something that is not proliferating.

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