View Preservation Task Force Debates How to Handle Minority ‘Anti’ Report
• Charges and Countercharges Traded over Draft Measure
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
Malibu’s View Preservation Task Force held its first public hearing since it released a draft of the ordinance it is recommending for city council consideration and the session was sparsely attended.
Since there were only two members of the public at the mid-day meeting to comment on the document, the task force took up several other items, including how to deal with a minority report three members want to submit.
Task force members indicated they hoped the next public hearing on June 9 at 6 p.m. in council chambers would produce a larger turnout. Some members acknowledged that Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. might not be the best time for public participation.
The task force took up a good deal of its proceedings discussing whether the panel should respond to the abrupt departure of task force member Hiro Kotchounian, who resigned from the task force in an emotional display last week at a city council meeting.
Kotchounian, who was appointed by Mayor Andy Stern, complained he had told the task force not to meddle with the Malibu Country Estates view protection regulations that were enacted through its special overlay district status, but the panel “snuck in” deleting the MCE status in favor of a city-wide coverage for MCE. He also called the task force members “power hungry.”
Chair Sam Hall Kaplan told his colleagues Kotchounian attended the meeting when task force members voted for recommending deleting the MCE overlay district and putting it under the umbrella of the proposed citywide ordinance. “He was here. He voted for it,” he added.
Task force member Barry Tyerman, in a letter to City Hall, wrote, “The task force voted that the draft ordinance under discussion would take precedence over and in effect repeal the MCE ordinance. Mr. Kotchounian voted with the majority in that decision and a provision to that effect was included in the draft ordinance in its meeting on Monday, May 18, 2009. I trust you will agree that this hardly constitutes “sneaking anything in.”
Members then debated whether there should be a response from the committee. Some agreed. Some disagreed.
Task force member Lucille Keller cautioned the panelists. “If there is no correction of the record, it will be used over and over to poison the good word of the task force,” she said.
The task force was then told there was no formal letter from the outgoing panelist and there could be no response from the task force, but they could speak as individuals to respond to the allegations.
Whereupon, the task force consultant Colleen Berg wanted it made clear there are major differences between Malibu’s proposed law and the one it is modeled after in Palos Verdes. The draft has already been unfavorably compared to PV’s ordinance. She cited four major differences including the restoration date of the two, foliage height, criteria and proposed processes. “This is not the PV ordinance,” she insisted.
The task force then turned its attention to further discussion on a minority report. Task force members Lou Lamonte, David Frankel and Suzanne Zimmer, who indicate they are opposed to the current draft ordinance, want the task force to sanction a minority report. The minority also wanted the panel to put the minority report on the task force agenda. Hall Kaplan suggested the minority report simply be submitted and could be turned over to the council. “Not submit it to the vote of the task force,” he suggested. Minority members objected. “This committee does not formally want a minority report,” said Zimmer.
Berg asked the minority members what they were looking for and how they wanted to impact the process. “So what do you want?” she asked.
Minority members then talked about whether they were formally directed to do so by the council. Some panelists insisted the task force had never been directed to consider a minority report.
“Instead of a minority report, what about each task force member presenting their points of disagreement?” Berg asked.
After the meeting, minority members were asked if they could share some of their views about what are their objections. They were asked if they thought there was a need for an ordinance of if they supported a voluntary program or no program whosoever All three members said they supported an ordinance, but not the one the task force had approved.
When asked why they believed it was necessary to have a task force sanctioned minority report, they said the matter should be put on the task force agenda for a chance to sway other members.
When asked if the minority report was ready, the three said it was still being developed. They offered no timetable for when the document might be presented to the planning commission or city council.
Two council members last week had indicated they wanted to see a minority report, but no formal motion or directive was given.