City Council Rejects Coastal Commission’s $800,000 Extortion From Hotel Developer, Leaving Project Twisting In The Wind
Written by 991KBU on April 26, 2023
Malibu’s city council has rejected the Coastal Commission’s plan to extort $800,000 from a Malibu hotel developer … to fund a campground off Kanan Dume Road. And although the hotel project is not dead yet … developer Norm Haynie can only hope that the Coastal Commission will walk back its demand that he gift the MRCA with $800,000 to build campgrounds in Malibu.
The proposed hotel would remodel a modern office building, sitting up the hill from Nobu, with a high end, luxury resort… with only 39 rooms. Haynie had already promised more than $3 million worth of benefits to the City of Malibu to offset the hotels construction impact.
But the Coastal Commission tacked on an additional $800,000 contribution to be coerced from Haynie and given to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority. The MRCA had plans to use the money to help build a gigantic campground at Bluffs Park, and a smaller one off Kanan-Dume Road.
The hotel developer says he is trapped between the city and the Coastal Commission … Norm Haynie says he’s going broke .. trying to build a hotel in midtown Malibu.
Monday night … he was begging.
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“The city has a lot to gain here.
“If you deny this project simply by saying `we don’t agree with the modifications’ … we’re done.
“I’m dying here financially.
“I’ll just start leasing out the building … and give up on the hotel … and do something else with my life.”
What does their city have to gain??? More than a million dollars in cash contributions from the developer. Plus …. Haynie would pay $2.5 million dollars for a water valve that the fire department desperately wants … upstream in the Malibu water supply.
The valve would allow the county to bring in emergency water supplies if an earthquake disrupts the only pipe that brings water into the area.
There was scattered support for the deal … voiced from one Malibu businessman … Monday night. Jefferson Wagner owns a surf shop that would be right next to Haynie’s proposed hotel.
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“I felt that from practical resident and business owner that this project should move forward. I’ve always felt that way.
“I’d rather keep commercial commercial.
“Anything that keeps B&B prices down and in business areas is good and that’s why I support it.”
The big issue was an 800 thousand dollar contribution extracted by Coastal from the hotel owner … to be given to the MRCA.
MRCA wants to build two campgrounds in Malibu … one off Kanan-Dume Road … the other at Bluffs Park. The Bluffs campground would host up to 102 thousand camper nights per year … in the middle of a high fire risk area that is home to endangered plants.
Monday night … Norm Haynie begged the city council not to tie up his hotel in a spat with the Coastal Commission over the campground. Clearly tormented … Haynie’s voice was breaking.
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“They have already said… if we go back to them … they say no… there’s not enough time to go back and then go back again.
“They don’t …
“They are the big bear … and we are the little people here.”
And his lawyer … Fred Gaines told the council that the campgrounds will get built with or without the 800 thousand dollar payoff extorted by the MRCA.
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“The MRCA can go to this project where do they get this $800,000 or not. That project will have its own approval of you. It will have its own environmental review. It will go through its own environmental process that everyone can participate in at the time.”
But everyone in the room knew that that approval process is rigged. The MRCA’s is using a loophole in the state Coastal act to bypass the City of Malibu… And to give it self permission to build campgrounds in the middle of Malibu over city objections.
Malibu Mayor Bruce Silverstein was the lone vote against the hotel when it was before the city council the first time. And Monday night … Silverstein set the tone for the city council’s reaction.
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“So I move that we let the project die on the vine.
“We went through an extensive review process … conducted extensive public hearings… conducted substantial debate… made substantial compromises… developed a carefully crafted LCPA (Local Coastal Plan Amendment) … which we offered up to the Coastal Commission for approval.
“Rather than making a perfect acceptance of our offer… the Coastal Commission rejected our offer and made a counterproposal … one that is a take it or leave it proposal.
Silverstein agreed that killing the hotel will not kill the campground … but said it was a matter of principal … that the City should not in any way endorse the MRCA plan.
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“The argument that the MRCA is going to do it anyway?
“They probably are. They are probably are going to get the money …. they have the money.
“Although I think we should go to court.”
“But it’s a matter of principle: we in Malibu should not be a part of a deal that is a deal that has been made with the devil.”
And Silverstein’s opening argument was supported by Doug Stewart. Stewart said he supported the hotel … but not the Coastal Commission extortion of 800 thousand dollars.
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“The additional eight hundred thousand dollars they are asking from the developer today would be immensely beneficial to our efforts for low-cost facilities.
“Think about the hypocrisy from the Coastal Commission: on one hand, they say ‘you guys don’t do enough to support low cost projects in your territory ‘
“And then they take the 800 thousand dollars that might benefit us to do that … and give it to someone else to do (low cost visitor projects) outside our territory … in basically tents.”
Marianne Riggins said the campgrounds that would be built by the MRCA are not allowed in the Malibu LCP … the Local Coastal Program … that regulates zoning in Malibu.
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“It violates the spirit of the LCP.
“The LCP says that those in-lieu fees are supposed to come to the City of Malibu and that we are supposed to work to provide the low-cost visitor accommodations.
“And this is completely bypassing us.”
In the end… The city council voted 4 to 1 to support a last ditch effort … for the city staff to talk to the coastal commission staff to see if they will yield on the hotel money going to the MRCA. The lone vote against that was Paul Grisanti.
But given the overwhelming support that MRCA’s has with the Coastal commission staff… and with the commission itself … it appears that Norm Haynie’s Sea View Hotel is twisting and dying in the wind.