Point Condo Plan Is Axed by Commissioners
BY BILL KOENEKER
The Malibu Planning Commission, at its meeting last week on a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Jeff Jennings and Carol Randall dissenting, denied approving an application for the construction of a new, two-story, 4,459-square-foot, three-unit condominium building, uncovered balconies and patios, and a 1,768- square-foot subterranean garage with six parking spaces on 29255 Heathercliff Road on Point Dume.
The planning panel also recommended the city council deny a Local Coastal Program Amendment to change the parcel's zoning and land use designation from Rural Residential to Multi-Family.
Commissioners could not agree about the map discrepancy between the Malibu Municipal Code Zoning and General Plan Land Use Policy Maps and the Local Coastal Program Zoning and Land Use Maps.
Commissioner John Mazza said he could not support the matter before the panelists.
"This is a rezoning. We do not have adequate information to support that. It is surrounded on three sides by residences. There is a question about density on Heathercliff Road. We should consider the zoning as a separate issue," he said.
Commissioner Joan House, who is running for a city council seat, agreed. "Like John, for me it is the intensification of use. I think you have a very nice project. If it were single-family, it would fit right in. I have a problem with the zoning. You've done a good job, but I won't be supporting it," she said.
Commissioner Jeff Jennings disagreed. "I'm kind of surprised by these comments. Joan and I both served on the General Plan Task Force. There is no question about any of these things. There were lots of errors. It is a zoning change, now you are downzoning the property. I'm confused, the property is zoned a particular way. There is an issue of interpretation, but it was resolved by the city council. It does not need to be revetted," he said.
Jennings said he understood what was going on. "I understand you don't want anything there. It will block your view. But that is not protected. It would block your view if it was a single-family home. I am prepared to support the project," he added.
"I agree with Jeff," said Randall. "What bothers me is neighbors arguing with one another. You've seen the lot empty for a long time, but somebody has a right to build on it. Somebody made a mistake, obviously the Coastal Commission. We are not talking about 12 units."
Plans also call for a driveway with fire department turnaround, grading, a retaining wall, including a site plan review for construction up to 27 feet for a pitched roof, and a conditional use permit for a multi-family condominium subdivision.
The commission had heard the matter previously, but wanted more information if the condos posed a threat of view impairment to the surrounding neighborhood homes.
However, at this meeting, the commissioners stayed focused on the zoning issue.
"I think zoning is a separate issue," said Chair Roohi Stack. "The zoning issue is important. It is about intensity. A single-family home is not comparable to a three-unit condo. Intensity is also an issue," she said.
Talking to the majority, Jennings said, "I understand it. You want to downzone the property."
House disagreed. "I know we both served on the General Plan Task Force. I think there is a discrepancy. There are single-family lots on both sides," she said.
"Are we going to direct a downzoning? If you change it by definition it is a downzoning," insisted Jennings.
Mazza disagreed insisting the Local Coastal Program takes precedence over all plans and zoning. "What we would be doing is upzoning it. It is legally a single-family lot," he said.
Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski explained only the council would be making the zone change, the commission could only make a recommendation to the city council.
The commissioners were told the staff would bring back the findings for a denial and come back to the planning panel for another vote.
Also on tap, the changes sought by the builders at the Trancas Country Market were unanimously approved by the commission at its meeting.
The planning panelists were being asked to approve an application to amend the coastal permit for the shopping center granted last year, currently under construction, for proposed changes to landscaping, roofing materials and the nursery area, including a minor modification to reduce the required rear yard setback.
The staff recommended approval of the coastal permit amendment and minor modification to amend the coastal permit.
Architect Doug Burdge said most of the changes were to accommodate the nursery, which had signed a long-term lease.
Most of the commission discussion centered on whether the plans before them constituted the final permit versions.
Mazza said some items that are included in the final permit approved by the city council were not on the amendment plan maps and that concerned him.
The panelists with the help from staff crafted language that required the city council's approved permit supercede all language for final plans.