CCC to Hear Offsite View Corridor Request
BY BILL KOENEKER
The final hurdle may be cleared for Hard Rock Café entrepreneur Peter Morton, if the California Coastal Commission at its meeting this month in Caspar, gives approval to a complicated exchange that allows Morton to avoid the requirement that twenty percent of the width of his Carbon Beach mansion's site be maintained as a view corridor.
To modify that requirement, Morton agreed to substitute a dedication in fee of an off-site view corridor parcel that is at least twenty five percent wider and to make a $1 million contribution to the City of Malibu towards the development of Legacy Park.
The commission retains final jurisdiction over the permit, though the city was involved in the permit process when it agreed to change its Local Coastal Program to allow for off-site mitigation.
Morton purchased a home along Big Rock Beach next to a public view corridor, and is required to tear down the house to add further to the existing view corridor.
The CCC staff is recommending the commission approve the proposed amendments.
It has been a rocky road, to say the least for Morton, who sought a demolition permit for a single-family house located at 19862 Pacific Coast Highway to create an offsite view corridor.
Morton, through his permit expediters, the law firm of Latham and Watkins, had originally sought the same permit for a beachfront home on La Costa Beach that raised the ire of neighbors there who immediately hired attorneys and began fighting the request. Morton, at the time withdrew his application and the matter was seemingly dropped.
However, the application quietly resurfaced with a new Las Tunas Beach location with a new set of neighbors expressing their concerns about such an arrangement.
At the time, the city's Local Coastal Program did not allow for off-site view corridors, consequently, the request required approval by the CCC as well as the city council, for the LCP amendment.
Morton's attempt to build a beachfront mansion on Carbon Beach has an ongoing history, even after the coastal panel issued a permit in 2001.
The mansion kept getting bigger and by 2004, more numerous special conditions were imposed, including the creation of an onsite public view corridor equal to 20 percent of the width of the property frontage along PCH.
The view corridor requirements imposed by the commission never were acted upon and privacy walls and landscaping exceeded city and commission regulations.
Alan Block, an attorney who represented one of the property owners originally objecting to the La Costa Beach proposal, said Morton had sweetened the pot for the city.
"[Morton] is now further proposing to contribute $1 million to the Legacy Park project, if the amendments are approved," he wrote in a letter to city officials objecting to this latest proposal.
Block also wrote in his 14-page letter that there is no justification for the proposed amendments.
"Further, the approval of the requested amendments would set an extremely negative precedent, which would allow wealthy individuals to transfer the burdens of their proposed developments to off-site neighborhoods regardless of on-site negative consequences of the same wreaking havoc on public views," he concluded.
However, when a suitable lot was found next to another view corridor on Big Rock Beach, objections were dropped. The deal was then approved by the city council at the end of 2011.
Besides using the high-priced Latham and Watkins firm to make sure the proposal wended its way through the approval process, it was revealed that lobbyist Susan McCabe was hired and attempted to lobby council members on the LCPA.
A local developer might have best summed up the situation: Engineer Norm Haynie said, "I am disturbed. It only affects one project," referring to the LCPA and the Coastal Commission modification accepted by the council.
Another Malibu agenda item, which was postponed at the last commission meeting, has been rescheduled for this month month, when a consent cease and desist order and a consent restoration order are set to be heard.
The proposed order is for authorizing and ordering Eric and Barbara Linder to cease and desist from maintaining existing unpermitted development, including removal of major vegetation, development within a deed-restricted area inconsistent with an existing coastal permit, retaining walls, side-cast material, landscaping planters and non-native plants within the deed-restricted 25-foot setback, wooden retaining structures, a path in violation with deed restrictions, stairs, irrigation, horse corral with altered flattened areas, fences and drainage devices.
The proposed consent order and restoration order also includes provisions for resolving claims for injunctive relief and civil liability for undertaking development in violation of the Coastal Act, according to a public notice.