The Malibu Planning Commission on Monday voted to reopen a public hearing on plans for improvements at Malibu High School, including a controversial 150-space parking lot.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is seeking a coastal development permit and a conditional use permit for plans to reconfigure several parking lots and add a new one, as well as construct a library, computer and science labs and an administrative building, totaling 20,274 square feet.
In August, commissioners voted to directed city staff to add conditions to require a right turn lane on an access road leading up to a proposed 150-spot parking lot without lights, over the objection of the school district.
The new hearing will be held at the Dec. 3 Planning Commission meeting at Malibu City Hall.
The commission had been expected to approve the project, without lights at the 150-spot parking lot, but the school district asked for a delay in order to receive more information about whether the California Division of the State Architect will allow the unlit parking lot to be constructed.
"If you acted tonight, before they have that information, they would have no choice but to appeal the decision [to the Malibu City Council]," Malibu's Assistant City Attorney Gregg Kovacevich said.
Kovacevich said because the item was on the consent calendar, the commission would not be allowed to consider any new information without reopening the process to a public hearing.
Commissioner David J. Brotman said he was concerned that conversations between Malibu's city staff and the State Architect's office could be one-sided, and the agency may not understand the reason behind the commission's decision about the lights.
"This is out in the boonies, we don’t need the lights there. It’s not an urban area. It’s counter to what the community wants. It’s counter to what the community is," Brotman said. "It’s not in the middle of Santa Monica."
Commissioner Mikke Pierson said he had received several emails about the project in the past few weeks.
"Some of the emails I have received, I would consider that new information," Pierson said in asking for a new public hearing.
The plans call for new classrooms, a library, computer and science labs and an administrative building, totaling 20,274 square feet. The main building would also include "green roofs," which are meant to reduce storm water runoff and provide an outdoor learning space, according to the SMMUSD website.
The plans also include a reconfigured 119-space lighted parking lot; and a reconfigured 61-space lighted parking lot and a new student drop-off area. The district's plans call for lighting at the 150-spot parking lot.
The school hosts 65 events that take place after school in addition to 250 sporting events every year, according to SMMUSD officials.
The project was submitted separately from the Malibu High School lights project. The Malibu City Council approved 70-foot tall lights for the school's athletic field for a maximum of 61 nights. The council also required the school district to take down 12-foot cross bars on the lights from June 1 through August 31.