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Town Hall Meeting to Focus on Future of Malibu's Civic Center

The forum follows outcry from local activists and residents about the future of the area around Civic Center.

The City of Malibu plans to hold a meeting next week aimed at gathering ideas and measuring interest on the possibility of retiring vacant, commercially zoned land in Malibu's Civic Center.

The meeting, which will also seek to gauge if Civic Center property owners are willing to sell their vacant land to the city, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 10 at , according to Olivia Damavandi, Malibu's public information officer.

Mayor Laura Rosenthal and Councilwoman Joan House, which were appointed to the Civic Center Property Owners Negotiation Ad Hoc Committee in May, will put on the meeting.

"The creation of the Civic Center Property Owners Negotiation Ad Hoc Committee illustrates the City's attentiveness to the needs of its residents and visitors," Rosenthal said. "Preserving vacant land zoned for commercial use is one way to ensure that Malibu retains its rural landscape. We look forward to a productive meeting filled with great ideas."

The idea of retiring land is one of many that has popped up over the past several months in the wake of unveiled plans for a Whole Foods at Cross Creek Road and Civic Center Way and other projects.

Others, including Preserve Malibu, have been working to develop an initiative that would allow Malibu residents to vote on any planned development that requires a variance. 

Steve Uhring, who is one of many Malibu residents involved in putting together the initiative, said the increase in the number of story poles has alarmed many. Story poles are used to show how a proposed development will impact views.

"The vast majority of people in the city, I believe, when they drive into the Civic Center today, what they primarily see is our new spring flower: the story pole. Everybody would like to see some of that land taken off the commercial development plate," Uhring said.

Uhring said he believes the idea of retiring land is a good one, but that the cost of the land will only go up once a planned sewer in the Civic Center is built.

"There is no effort on the part of the city to show any kind of evidence that we don’t need the sewer," Uhring said.

Don Schmitz, who represents the owners of the approved La Paz project, said he supports the idea of Malibu residents coming together to discuss the future of the Civic Center. 

"The conversation should be comprehensive," Schmitz said.

Schmitz added that he would like too see the cost of buying land in Civic Center analyzed in light of other infrastructure needs within Malibu.

"We have $150 to $180 million in deferred water improvements and maintenance that we need to do in this town," Schmitz said.

He said the city will also have to finance the sewage treatment plant and repave roads in the coming years.

"Do the math. That’s a lot of money," Schmitz said.

Elena Corral July 04, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Very depressing to see the new story poles going up around town. It makes sense to try to spread the costs of running a community (deferred maintenance, sewage treatment facilities, etc.) over a larger payer base, however, without additional development these costs must be shouldered by the existing property owners (I prefer ZERO development). The LaPaz owners are seeing the economy turn around and might be reluctant to sell this piece, only to have to start over elsewhere. It may therefore require much more money to purchase their position, which in turn will be payed for by the existing property owners. This, in addition to the aforementioned costs are what we face going forward. It's hard to imagine that additional development is required to stay afloat so as not to sock it to the existing property taxpayers, however, the cycle will most certainly continue as it has done since Southern California communities began expanding after WWII...more development to pay for past development. Regrettably, we the existing property tax payers may just have to bite the bullet and get used to much higher taxes in order to preserve the cherished Malibu lifestyle. Let's all reach deep and pay our own way without development. Either way...tough choices and not cheap.
Mark Hayes July 04, 2012 at 04:36 PM
The timing is so bad to consider purchasing civic center property. Commercial property owners can sense their development opportunity with the city sewage plant almost underway and the retail rents almost back to the 2007 levels. The La Paz ownership fights for 10 years to get a permit and then would be asked to put a price on their property. Many of the property owners are on the Forbes list and I doubt they are feeling philanthropic after years of blockades from past councils. This is sheer fantasy to think we have an extra $100,000,000.00 to buy a few parcels of commercial land.
Andy Lyon July 04, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Retiring commercial properties ??? hahaha That's a good one !!! Right after they vote to let the commercial property owners vote their own assessment district that will drag the rest of the city down the tubes with this sewer ? Yeah right...GOOD LUCK with that ! It's a pipe dream....A SEWER PIPE DREAM !!!
Terry July 05, 2012 at 12:51 AM
probably the property that should be retired with transfer development credits is the commercial property along the pch. they should have the commercial property owner applying for permits in the civic center pay for the sewers. there should be no assessment to serra retreat, the colony, malibu road or the knolls. let the commercial developers pay. but before u consider that could the city please do a realistic master plan of the civic center with enough traffic circulation and enough parking and maybe even some architectural continuity. omg are the current people in office even capable. i doubt it. they have sold us out on the lagoon. didnt even spend the $25,000 and just sold out the residence in malibu park. probably next they will let us down again and give the sweetwater mesa development a building permit. can we please get a city counsel that will represent the people of malibu
Mark Hayes July 05, 2012 at 01:17 AM
In all fairness please don't blame the mess we are in on the present council. In my eyes there is enough blame to go around from our origins of becoming a city.To stop this wastewater plant from being built we should have resolved the leaky and stinky septic system problems not only in the civic center but along all of the beaches as well. We should have adopted the Specific Plan that was completed almost 10 years ago that made a valid effort to coordinate decades of bad development. Now we are in a hell of a mess and our lack of compliance is allowing the town to over develop.

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