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Malibu Argues Over Bigger Second Stories and Other Zoning Woes

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Malibu is undergoing a Zoning Code update with the relatively simple goal of resolving inconsistencies in the code and bringing zoning into accordance with the city's General Plan, Municipal Code, and Local Coastal Plan. As tends to happen with these things (notably in that behemoth to the east, Los Angeles), slow growth advocates are concerned that the city is attempting to completely rewrite the Zoning Code to enable a wave of new development. A Malibu Times article last week detailed a recent public hearing in which the proceedings took on a familiar dynamic: architects and developers looking for reforms were on one side, local residents fearful of development changes were on the other. Malibu Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski told Curbed that the hearing was the first step in community and stakeholder outreach before the city begins to draft the proposed code changes.

Slow growth advocates have so far opposed all of the code changes suggested by developers and architects. The developers and architects had suggested, among other things, including outdoor patios in a building's ground floor square footage, which would allow for larger second stories. Another suggested removing the ban on three story houses while maintaining the height limit of 28 feet.

With any changes that do get made, slow growth advocates are seeking a red line document, according to the Times, so that it's easy to see all the changes being made to the code. Jo Ruggles, former city planning commissioner and current slow growth advocate, explains the need for the red line in the Times article: "If you're going to change a standards or a setback rule, it's very important there's a red line because one word can change the whole meaning of that entire paragraph."

Malibu-based architect Lester Tobias, tells us that the city has more of a process problem than a code problem: "We architects have figured out to work with the code," adding, "We want a faster and more consistent process." As for the proposed code, Tobias doesn't see a tremendous amount of benefit in the proposed code update: "Maybe a week saved here and there or $2,500 saved here and there."

Now that constituents have voiced their opinions, San Luis Obispo-based consultant Lisa Wise will draft the proposed changes. Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski expects specifics on the proposed changes in one to two months. And there is more planning fun on the horizon for Malibu: the Local Coastal Plan is scheduled for an update in 2012.
· Back to You, Planning Dept: City Responds to Zoning Code Lawsuit [Curbed LA]
· Fears expressed over zoning code update [Malibu Times]