La Paz Revisions Get Green Light
• City Hall Traded for Wastewater Facility at New Center
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
With barely a quorum, the Malibu Planning Commission last week on a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Joan House dissenting, voted to recommend the city council accept changes to the proposed development agreement between the city and La Paz developers that would allow a wastewater treatment facility for the Civic Center area and other municipal uses, while extending the five-year timeline to develop the property to 10 years.
Commissioner Regan Schaar was absent, and Commissioner John Mazza recused himself.
Last month, the city council reviewed the proposed commercial project that includes over 130,000 square feet of retail and office space and directed the staff to negotiate a revision in the development agreement relating to public benefits regarding the 2.3 acre parcel, which originally was to be considered for a city hall.
The revisions, which required commission consideration, also opened up future use of the parcel to “any municipal purpose, including a city hall, library, community center, water quality infrastructure, park or open space.”
House, who previously did not favor a larger project or the city hall development agreement and had led the charge when the panel refused to hear the wastewater revisions sought by the developer, would have nothing to do with the proposed agreement because it included a city hall proposal. House insisted Malibu’s zoning codes do not allow for this and charged this was a backdoor way to allow it.
“I will make a motion to approve a recommendation if we delete a city hall in the development agreement,” said House, whose motion was not seconded.
Commissioner John Mazza, although he recused himself, testiffied as an individual, and urged the commission not to approve the agreement for a different reason. He said the document before them is incomplete and the planning panel did not have enough information to vote on the revisions, even though he endorsed what the council wants to do.
However, Commissioner Jeff Jennings brushed aside Mazza’s and House’s concerns, saying that the commission had a narrow charge to just consider the revisions. “I did not even look at the draft agreement. We are not approving this development agreement. All we are talking about is if other uses other than a city hall can be included. The only question is unlimited municipal uses or just the city hall,” said Jennings, who insisted the panel was only being asked to decide whether the revisions made it a better or worse agreement. “It seems absolutely clear that it makes it a better agreement,” he added.
Commissioner Ed Gillespie, who voted with Jennings, said he wanted to be clear that was the case and was told by the assistant city attorney and planning staff all that mattered was the commission’s recommendation on the revisions.
“You won’t see the final development agreement, unless there are more substantive changes,” said Assistant City Attorney Greg Kovacevich.
“We do not need to address the development agreement except [for] the changes. That is all we are here for,” said Gillespie.
There were others who came to testify, including two lawyers representing the neighbors, who said they are still unhappy because the developer has not moved the project far enough away from their homes. They were told that was not an issue that could be addressed at this session.