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Commission Reopens Hearing on MHS Campus Improvement Project

The public will have a second chance to give input on the plans, which include a new 150-space parking lot, a library, computer and science labs and an administrative building, totaling 20,274 square feet.

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.

Marianne Riggins October 03, 2012 at 01:09 PM
While I agree that we do need more field space in Malibu, we also need additional tennis courts for Malibu High School tennis players. MHS girls tennis has made in far in playoffs for CIF the last several years and will benefit greatly by having additional courts on campus, as will the boys team. Also, the city runs a tennis program for middle school kids and these are the only public courts in Malibu for residents to use. We are not a single sport community, we should have a variety of facilities for our residents. You say that the parking lot is in the wrong location, where is the correct location? If there are better ideas please share them. Many Malibu residents and parents have spent years working on this plan, if they have missed something please join in the conversation. It is not good enough to criticize, this needs a solution the entire community can support. Regarding the lights on the parking lot, this lot will add much needed parking to the school and help with traffic congestion on Morning View and will it be used at night, would you like to walk through a dark parking lot at night? Do you think a teenager should? We need to have some light on that lot, many communities have found a way to balance the desire for dark skies while still allowing some light for safety and comfort of the users.
Marianne Riggins October 03, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Malibu, if you have an example of a parking lot that has good, dark skies friendly lighting please share it. Upload a picture or post the location here. Dark skies are something we should strive for, let's work togther to make it possible here in Malibu.
Terry October 03, 2012 at 04:14 PM
parking should be continued behind the pool area where the basketball courts are now. there would be better traffic control with one entrance and exit. some fences may have to be moved but no buildings unless they wanted to move the boys and girls club to the ridge where the parking lot is proposed. it might be a better location anyway with way more space to put in a much better skateboarding area. the place where they propose the new parking lot should be fields if the parking lot is all down below i dont think anyone would object to it being lighted. plus its much better for security. who is going to do security for the new lot during school hours. plus the driveway comes down a hill. many students are picked up at the corner of merirt and morning view. i can just see a car coming down from the new parkinglot and running over a student. so many things that could be better. parking in front of the school on school property should not be eliminated. where do parents park when they need to go to the school administration. the schools plan is all about collecting parking money for football games and it wont work
Marianne Riggins October 04, 2012 at 01:57 PM
On first look that may seem like a good idea, but having all transportation use the same driveway it will actually worsen the traffic issues at the school. One of the benefits of having the new lot before the school is it will allow up to 150 cars to not have to pass in front of the school and reduce the amount of congestion there, both before and after school. I believe one of the reason so many people pickup at Merritt is they are trying to avoid the congestion in front of the school, if traffic flows better because it is spread out, there shouldn't be such a back up and Crossing guards will still be utilized to protect kids walking. There are still some parking spaces near the front of the school for visitors, but a new drop off/pick up area is designed to move the back up off of Morning View and allow better traffic flow on the street. Regarding the basketball courts, if they are replaced by parking where does the PE program occur? The school does not charge for parking at football games, money is collected at the gate to attend the game (this is done at every school it has to do with CIF not the district) whether you walk, bike or drive. The new parking lot is necessary for general school use, the facility is currently under parked for the amount of staff, students and visitors that use it daily.
Marianne Riggins October 04, 2012 at 01:59 PM
and thank you for the positive input, it is great to hear suggestions and to have real discussions about this and other issues.

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