The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to resubmit its embattled Malibu development plan to the California Coastal Commission, paving the way for a new round of discussions between the two feuding bodies.
The supervisors have stridently criticized a Malibu land-use plan, adopted by the state commission in June, which would allow about half of the development originally proposed by the county.
Supervisor Deane Dana, in whose district Malibu lies, has publicly denounced the commission's version as being anti-development.
On Tuesday, Dana asked that the county resubmit its original plan to enable the county and the state to "re-deliberate" the most controversial items. Those items generally put stricter limits on growth than the county had sought, state officials said.
The county's move was welcomed by Peter Douglas, executive director of the Coastal Commission, who said he invited the Board of Supervisors to resubmit its proposal "because we don't want this issue to drag on for another several years. We wanted to reopen the dialogue."
Because the state and the county must agree on the final land-use plan, officials on both sides had expressed fear that the commission's June vote would delay for several years a decision on how to develop Malibu.
After the vote, Douglas said, "the county made it clear to us they would not accept our plan."
Dana contends that after more than two years of negotiations and public hearings, the commission added several items to its proposal "at the last minute."
Those items were proposed and adopted by the commission in June after Commissioner Marshall Grossman accused the county of making too few compromises with the state and of proposing poor planning for Malibu. Some commissioners later said they voted for the tougher development standards because the county had failed to soften its pro-development stance.
Douglas said Tuesday, however, that although the issues are being reopened, his commission staff "does not intend to start from scratch."
"The county staff, whom we will be working with on this, should not expect to spend a lot of time on issues we have already hammered out," Douglas said. "This will be for resolving major issues of continuing disagreement."
The unresolved issues are expected to be discussed by the county planning staff and the state planning staff in the coming weeks, he said. They include:
- A state proposal that would allow a maximum of 6,000 new residential units in Malibu, in contrast to the county's proposal for about 12,000 new housing units.
- A state-proposed limit on the number of homes and commercial developments that could be constructed in Malibu each year.
- A state proposal for a building height limit of two stories in the Malibu Civic Center and along the Pacific Coast Highway, areas where the county has sought a three-story height limit.
- A county proposal to build a regional sewer system in Malibu. The state has asked the county to spell out its plans for the system in more detail, but the county wants to retain greater latitude.
- A state proposal to limit enrollment at Pepperdine University to the equivalent of about 3,000 full-time students until Pepperdine completes a long-range master plan. The county has sought a full-time student limit of about 5,000, compared to the current 2,500.
- A state proposal to extensively upgrade Pacific Coast Highway before lifting certain caps on commercial and residential developments in Malibu. The county has fought the idea of linking building construction limits to improvements of the highway.
Norman Murdoch, the county's planning director, said county officials similarly hope to preserve the compromises agreed upon between the two agencies during past meetings.
"For instance, the county made substantial concessions in density, but on the other side they left some elbow room for the county to develop in environmentally sensitive areas," Murdoch said. "We don't want to lose the progress that's been made."
However, Murdoch said he is unhappy with several of the tougher restrictions adopted by the commission in June, which he said "were radical changes adopted without public review."