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Commission sends ordinance back to staff

Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
1:29 pm PDT June 9, 2014

At their meeting on Monday, June 2, members of the City of Malibu Planning Commission discussed the proposed public art ordinance, but decided to send it with its corresponding public art program back to staff for review after discovering numerous discrepancies between the two.

Titled “Art in Public Places,” the commissioners were originally scheduled to discuss the ordinance at their March 17 meeting, but that discussion was moved to a later date due to the undeveloped nature of the ordinance in terms of its backing policy.

Planning Commissioner Jeffery Jennings, however, cited numerous discrepancies and typographical errors that showed disagreement between the ordinance and public art program, or within the documents themselves.

In effect, the documents were not ready to be approved by the Planning Commission.

“Things really have to be proofread before they get to us,” said Jennings, after citing a discrepancy where the “endowments” section of the ordinance erroneously stated that sums of money from endowments, bequests, grants and donations “may be expended as set forth in subsection E of this section.”

The problem was that subsection E referred to the accounting of the City’s public art fund and its oversight, whereas section D was – titled “use of Cultural Arts Fund – was the section intended to be referred to in the endowments portion.

The public art program, in conjunction with the ordinance, is scheduled to be heard by members of the Malibu City Council on July 14, but Jennings also questioned which document would have the authority to govern.

“You’re proposing we pass this ordinance, but at some subsequent date the City Council will adopt in some manner the public art program,” Jennings said. “So which one governs? Because they’re not the same. The provisions of the ordnance are repeated, kind of, in the program: There are the same general sorts of ideas, but not the same words. So when there’s a conflict between the ordinance and the program, which one governs?”

Answering Jennings, City of Malibu associate planner Stephanie Hawner said the ordinance, in all cases, would take precedence over the program, saying that the policy and program would outline the permitting process for new artwork, determine how art is selected, but the ordinance will reflect how the program and policy are intended to be applied to the development projects in the City and which projects the ordinance would apply to, in addition to the amount of the total construction cost and the minimum value of the artwork.

“Those things would be established in the ordinance, but applied in the policy,” she said.

Jennings also spotted a discrepancy between the ordinance and the program in reference to how property owners could make an in lieu contribution, rather than installing a piece of artwork. In the ordinance, it is stated that the property owner may pay all or a portion of the minimum allocation by making an in lieu contribution to the cultural arts fund.

“But when you get to the program, it doesn’t say anything at all about making a partial contribution, it says you have to make the full contribution,” Jennings said.

The City is cited in the agenda report as basing its Public Art Program after “extensive review” of programs run by Dana Point, West Hollywood, Carlsbad and Newport Beach.

Projects subject to the ordinance include new construction, remodels or reconstruction on commercial developments, institutional developments as well as multi-family residential developments where the total cost of construction would exceed $250,000.

Property owners meeting this criteria would be required by the City to opt into one of two options: The first option requires a property owner to acquire and install a piece of artwork valued to be at least 1 percent of the project’s total construction cost. A second option allowed property owners, in lieu of installing a physical piece of art, would be required to contribute the public art fund.

The ordinance, however, does not apply in certain situations, such as the reconstruction of a structure destroyed by a natural disaster.

The ordinance would also not apply to the repair or maintenance activities that do not result in an addition or enlargement of existing structures where work will be performed.