Planning Commission to Rehear the La Paz Project
• Wastewater System Update Is Cause
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
In a somewhat unprecedented move, the Malibu Planning Commission is being asked to rehear the proposed La Paz shopping center and office complex planned for the Civic Center area at its Aug. 5 meeting.
Last January, the commission adopted recommendations approving a permit for the construction of a 99,117-square-foot commercial office and retail complex, but turned down an alternate plan, including a development agreement that would have allowed an 112,058- square-foot project that would have included a donation of land for a new 20,000-square-foot city hall along with a cash payment to the city for use toward the construction of the new city hall.
According to a city planner, the applicant submitted a new wastewater collection, treatment and reuse system for the projects, “which is materially different than the previously reviewed onsite wastewater treatment system.”
The new system has been reviewed and incorporated into the final environmental impact report.
The purpose of the public hearing, according to a municipal planner, is to obtain recommendations for the city council on the revised project.
The makeup of the planning panel has changed since the matter was last heard with new Commissioners Jeff Jennings, John Mazza and Ed Gillespie on board. Panelist Regan Schaar was the only dissenting vote on both projects during the last hearing, saying she did not want to recommend any project given the objections of the water district to the then current plans and complaints by the neighbors about view issues.
The projects planned for over a dozen years seemed to encounter smooth sailing until a second hearing by the commission when hundreds of Malibuites showed up, many in favor of the proposals.
During the final hearing, the water district came forward objecting to the approval of the Environmental Impact Report and urging the commission not to approve the requests because of an inadequate water supply.
After the commission’s recommendation of approval of the smaller project, there was much discussion about if the former council should hear the proposal or if the hearing should be delayed until the newly-elected council could weigh in on the projects.
The former council agreed to allow the newly-installed council to hear the matter. That was the plan until the sudden shift in direction. Neither council discussed sending the matter back to the planning commission.
The application has been treated differently than most. Planners and apparently the city attorney decided to initially have the planning commission hear the matter, but make only recommendations, despite having the jurisdiction over the smaller project, but not the larger, which it could not do, because of the proposed development agreement that only the council can approve—there was and is no reason that the commission could not exercise its quasi-judicial authority and vote thumbs up or down on the permits before them for the smaller project. Why the commissioners themselves have not publicly discussed relinquishing their authority remains unclear.