ZORACES Members Say Count of Small
Businesses Is Next Step That's Required
■ Another Try at a Civic Center Specific Plan Considered
The Zoning Ordinance Review and Code Enforcement Subcommittee met Tuesday morning this week to make its recommendations for "growing and sustaining local businesses."
The council subcommittee is comprised of Mayor John Sibert, City Councilmember Jefferson Wagner and Planning Commission Chair Jeff Jennings, who was absent.
After listening to two hours of public testimony, the panelists each spoke about what they saw as the next possible steps for the municipality.
The mayor suggested considering another attempt to create a Civic Center Specific Plan.
He acknowledged the city had made three tries at a considerable cost to come up with a plan but failed to ultimately approve one.
"We don't want to reopen the General Plan," said Sibert, who mentioned such plans can cost up to $1 million.
The other options Sibert came up with was a count or inventory of what the city currently has in the way of storefront businesses.
Another option is to measure or gauge what folks want. "What do people want?" Sibert said was another question to be answered.
He suggested, and its organizers agreed, there would be a book at the farmers market for interested individuals to express their wish list.
Wagner agreed saying some kind of assessment of retail in the city is needed.
He suggested there were two ways to do it. Check the city's alarm fee registration. But he said that would not necessarily capture all of businesses.
Wagner said another way to count the businesses is to set up a business registration that would amount to a simple fee.
He said further on the city might attempt what is called an administrative Conditional Use Permit.
Planning Commission member John Mazza had suggested the administrative CUP at the start of public testimony.
The idea would be that all businesses would be accountable to the city for what they sell. The city could keep an inventory knowing how many clothing stores there were, how many other types of businesses were in Malibu and decide what was needed.
However, there were others, especially a shopping center owner, who said they did not want any more government regulation.
"The CUP process allows a few people to decide," Michael Koss noted.
Koss, the general partner of Malibu Country Mart, presented the city with his own study of the number and kinds of businesses. The shopping center owner said it is the misperceptions about what is happening in the retail market that is driving such suggestions.
He ticked off what he called a list of myths that have been circulating, including locals are not going to the stores. "That is just not the case. Sales are strong," he said. "Rents are high. Some rents are quite high, but some rents are substantially lower."
However, activist Kerry Beth Daly said, "We absolutely need to legislate. Yes, we are for free enterprise."
Daly said the chamber, which has called for no regulation, is packed with registered lobbyists on its board. "Our chamber is made up of lobbyists who favor big business," she said.
Chamber Chair Roger Gronwald said the chamber favors a shop locally campaign and al-ready has commitments to fund a shop local campaign by advertising in the local media.
He said there are 500 members in the chamber and only a handful are with large businesses.
He said the best option is to increase revenues that other options suggested could increase costs. "We are concerned that some of the [proposed] ordinance could increase costs," he added.
The panel conducted a town hall meeting several weeks ago when over 100 interested individuals showed up to talk about the matter. Various ideas were offered up including storeowners asking for more customers, shopping center owners vowing they did not want more regulation and others insisting some kind of legislative approach should be undertaken or types of incentives offered.
BY BILL KOENEKER