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Development decisions should be made by the people

Staff Report
3:04 pm PDT August 4, 2014

Approval of commercial development always requires some subjective decision-making, primarily because developers want special permission to build projects that aren’t within the code of our Land Use law and because of Coastal permitting requirements. Currently those decisions are made by the majority of five Planning Commissioners, and then can be upheld or overridden by the majority of five City Council members.

There are approximately a dozen commercial parcels in Malibu which have the legal right to ever create new commercial development over 20,000 square feet. One of the two parts to the Your Malibu Your Decision Act simply says that the final decision regarding project plans for these dozen projects (which will redefine Malibu) will be made not by a few individuals, but by the majority of the citizens. 

Commercial property developers say this is dangerous because citizens could recklessly reject property developments that are within code, denying basic property rights, (resulting in lawsuits to the city).   In reality, Planning Commissioners and City Council members also could unreasonably deny basic property rights (resulting in lawsuits).   I don’t believe the idea that the citizens as a whole are unreasonable, but that somehow miraculously they elect a handful of people from among their unreasonable ranks, and that handful happens to be reasonable.    

Obviously commercial property developers believe elected politicians will grant more project deviations from code than citizens would and this is why they prefer the status quo.   The Your Malibu Your Decision Act gives us citizens the chance to change that status quo.   It is purely a scare tactic when commercial developers argue that the majority of citizens (i.e. not just the extremists but the majority) would take to the extreme of denying projects which are purely to code, making the city an easy target for litigation.   (And if others express this fear, they are expressing nothing more than their personal lack of faith in the community members as a whole.)

I support the Your Malibu Your Decision Act.  When it passes in November, we citizens will need to deal with our new responsibility conscientiously, and I trust we will.

Lynn Norton, Malibu resident