How Similar Cities Function with Voters' Say in Growth
If Measure R passes, Malibu could
join the likes of towns like Del Mar and Escondido, where voters
head to the polls over major proposed developments.
Matt Sanderson / Special to The Malibu Times, October 29, 2014
coastal Southern California cities of Del Mar, Encinitas and
Escondido have enacted measures allowing citizens to have
a voice in city planning, and on Nov. 4 Malibu voters will
decide whether to allow a similar process on proposed commercial
developments with Measure R.
Measure B, passed in 1986 in Del Mar, proposals on project
sites of 25,000 square feet or more or a building of 11,500
square feet or more triggers a voter and City Council review
for compliance. Measure R, if approved, will allow Malibu
voters to review proposals greater than 20,000 square feet.
Unlike the other measures, however, Measure R carries additional
regulations over the percentage of chain stores allowed in
shopping centers (30%).
Mar city planner Adam Birnbaum told The Times that since Measure
B passed, three projects have fallen under the process: the
former Del Mar Hotel (now LAuberge Del Mar), the Del
Mar Plaza and the Garden Del Mar. The first two were being
planned when Measure B went before the voters. The initiative
applied and the projects were scaled back.
years later in 2008, the Garden Del Mar proposal went through
the Measure B process and was approved but never implemented
because the property owner reportedly went bankrupt. Since
then, the site has been vacant and purchased by a new company.
the community said was, they were concerned that larger developments
would change the character of downtown, so they wanted citizens
to have a role, Birnbaum said. And the measure
requires these specific plans so you put specific regulations,
land use policies and operational parameters in place for
those larger projects, to protect the community.
noted Measure B allows property owners to propose development
standards that are different, larger in the many cases, than
other applicable zoning laws.
in downtown, our central commercial zone, the floor-area-ratio
is 45 percent, he said. Through the Measure B
specific plan process, someone can propose one with a higher
floor area ratio, but when they propose parameters that otherwise
exceed applicable zoning, they have to demonstrate a benefit
to the community, through acceptable public benefits.
city code allows for 15 percent floor-area-ratio in commercial
developments and up to 20 if the proponent offers a public
benefit or service.
the LAuberge, Birnbaum said a significant donation was
made for Del Mars library. Other donations included
scenic view corridors, public and semi-public zones, such
as an amphitheater. For Del Mar Plaza, a greater number of
stores were proposed than would have otherwise been allowed,
with a far greater floor area ratio, but also with acceptable
public benefits and public view decks.
of being devoted to close commercial [it was] space left for
public enjoyment, he said.
potential loss of a small food market was a concern when Del
Mar Plaza was proposed, so 9,000 square feet was reserved
in the development period of 25 years to be reserved solely
for use as a market.
its a quid pro quo, Birnbaum said. A greater
development proposal request for a benefit need in the community,
which is an integral part for Measure B. And we dont
have a ton of lots; we have many smaller lots in downtown.
If someone were to purchase multiple lots and combine them,
Measure B would apply.
growth measure in Encinitas, approved two years ago, is broader
than proposed commercial development sizes. It requires voter
approval for major amendments to things like city
zoning maps, any increases in the number of permitted dwellings
on a residential lot, removing agricultural or open space
zoning, increases in maximum building height or changes in
residential to non-residential use.
use attorney Everett DeLano aided in drafting Encinitas
Proposition A, and said they based its language around the
draft measure that was passed in Yorba Linda years ago.
got to tailor it to a particular city, he said. You
cant just pluck.
from the intense scrutiny coupled with the celebrity and affluence
that sets Malibus land use squabbles apart from most
cities and towns, especially as evidenced during Sundays
Measure R debate at City Hall between proponent Rob Reiner
and Measure R opponent Steve Soberoff, these slow growth initiatives
are comparable for the regions coastal communities,
thing we said about these kinds of measures is why not
give the voters a chance to vote? he said. Sometimes
its a perception of reality and sometimes its
not. Ive done land use and environmental litigation
for years and one thing I hear is, Boy, the City Council
is not responsive to our concerns.
disagreed with that argument on Sunday, saying taking a large
development to the voters skirts the citys current process.
is a process in Malibu. Its a public process. You have
to go through all kinds of hearings but this initiative went
around the entire public process. There is not one public
hearing, he said. It doesnt go in front
of one planning expert, it doesnt go in front of one
engineering expert, it doesnt go in front of the Planning
Commission. It goes right to the voters, and thats the
the proposed language of Measure R, Following adoption
of the specific plan or plans for these projects by the City
Council, the plan or plans shall be placed on the ballot,
as soon as possible, for approval by the voters.
argued that just three people in City Council have the power
to make development decisions, which is what he and other
Measure R proponents want changed.
problem is [with a five-person council]
the way it works
out is youve got three people [who] can decide what
happens for everybody in Malibu, he said.