City OKs Malibu High Master Plan 3-2, With Specific Rule That Future Projects Must Also Pass Site Review By Planning Commission

Written by on August 9, 2022

The zoning change for Malibu High School’s master plan was approved by the city council last night.  Again.
And the plan goes to the Coastal Commission now … with the city attorney and city planner both assuring the public … that all future building plans will have to come back to the city for specific review and approval.
Any possible bus barn relocation … any proposed 45 foot high auditorium replacing the existing 41 foot high auditorium … everything must go before future planning commissions … appealable to the future city councils.
Last night … there was no change in the controversial possible placement of the school bus barn at the east end of the campus … near the Malibu Equestrian Center…. a move that school officials say will never happen anyway.
Public opposition was voiced over the bus barn … the current plan calls for it to maybe be relocated out of an environmentally-sensitive area at the west end of the campus … and relocated to a vacant area next to the equestrian center.  That small horse park is on school district owned land … east of the high school.
Malibu Park resident Jessica Marx said she was worried that the bus barn relocation would displace the Malibu Equestrian Center.


“You know the Malibu Equestrian Center is the ONLY public arena that we have in Malibu. You know we love Malibu because of its rural qualities.”

Malibu school board member Craig Foster told the city council that the bus barn relocation would not displace the equestrian park … it would not be built for at least 10 years … is not currently funded … and would likely not happen.


“There’s no bond for this … there’s no there’s no money for this …
“The first speaker talked about there’s no precise plan for the building… That’s because there’s no precise building for any of this.
“This is a vision of how this will unfold over time.
“And in the end to the extent money is raised and to the extent that the district would go forward with putting a bus barn in… which may or may not ever occur … the bond may not ever occur … the need for a bus barn may or may not ever occur.
“Alternatives in the next literal decade – by 2032 when this may or may not happen could be dramatically different than what this sort of default condition is today.
“And to some extent … the placement of this bus barn is sort of the most obvious thing to do but it’s most certainly not the thing to do … or it may not be the thing to do as we further consider this as we work through the public conversations”

School board member Craig Foster.
The city council decided it would be a good idea for the Planning Commission to review … in the future … the site plans for any structures over 28 feet in height.
That did not please city council members Bruce Silverstein and Steve Uhring.
Here’s Uhring objecting to the relocation of the bus barn … and the 45 foot high auditorium that would be placed in the middle of the campus … four feet higher than the existing auditorium.

Steve Uhring:

NEWSCART A73529 UHRING site plan review

“We are providing entitlements for something that could take place 10 to 12 years from today.
“My problem its the city staff … I believe… their primary job is to protect the city residents.
“And in granting these entitlements without knowing what the heck is going to happen down the road I think they abdicated that responsibility and I think that’s wrong.
“And I mean it does present some problems.
“The 45 foot building if they want to build …. that does not have to come before the Planning Commission in a site plan review.”

Steve Uhring was wrong … and was corrected by interim city attorney Trevor Russin.


RUSSIN: “I just want to clarify what councilman Uhring was saying. This is not actually approving entitlements to construct.
“This is approving a specific plan which will then create the rules under which they would apply in the future for those entitlements.
“He is correct that it will change those rules and the standards that are applied… so instead of a variance maybe a site plan review or maybe just a coastal development plan would be required for approval of different parts of the project. I just want to clarify that for the record that ….
UHRING: “But they are not going to need a site plan review for that 45 foot building, right. Trevor??”
RUSSIN: “I believe they need a site plan review … Reneika. They don’t need a variance.
“They would need a variance at this point. You can’t get a site plan review above 32 feet … uh …
UHRING: “45 foot has been approved, right Raneika? They don’t need a site plan review???”
RANEIKA BROOKS: “They do need a site plan review.”

That was the voice of senior city planner Raneika Brooks at the end.
Bottom line … the city attorney and city planner say any bus barn relocation … the proposed 45 foot high auditorium replacing the existing 41 foot high auditorium … everything must go before the future city councils.
As for Bruce Silverstein … he wanted the zoning change amended to eliminate any mention of the bus garage at the equestrian center.

No third vote for that … either.

BRUCE SILVERSTEIN: ““So I’d ask a friendly amendment put ‘bus barn to be moved to a location to be determined.’ ”
PAUL GRISANTI: “As the maker of the motion I’m going to reject that. Any future council will have the opportunity to sit down with the school district wherever the school district is and say we should put the bus barn here let’s process something to put it there. And they can alter the plan at that time.”

Mayor Paul Grisanti at the end.
The upshot: by a 3 to 2 vote … the zoning change for the high school project was passed by the city council.
Silverstein and Uhring opposed.  It sets the maximum standards that the school district can design to… but all future projects designs will have to go back to the city council for detailed review … called a site plan review.
The zoning change goes now to the Coastal Commission … to make sure it complies with the state Coastal Act.
The school district is most anxious for that to happen.
It can’t come back to the city council with the site plan review for Phase 1 of the project until Coastal signs off on the overall concept.
Phase 1 is the 160 million dollar construction of the main classroom structure.
The district will have to erect story poles at the site … once the old Juan Cabrillo School’s demolition is completed this fall.
And the planning commission will be able to examine the precise plans… hearing from the public.
The district as we said is eager to jump through all the hoops … as inflation is chomping away at the pot of bond money available to fund Phase 1.

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