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LETTER: Malibu Bay Company Joins the Downtown Development Dash

On May 15, the Malibu Bay Company filed a request to build several office buildings on what used to be called the “Ioki Site” – the big vacant lot between Stuart Ranch Road and the new community college campus site.

We’ve met the Malibu Rancho Hotel, Whole Foods in the Park, “The Building That Used To Be Called Charter,” and the new Santa Monica College branch. Now, let’s meet the next applicant for construction permits in downtown Malibu: the “Malibu Sycamore Village.”

On May 15, the Malibu Bay Company filed a request to build several office buildings on what used to be called the “Ioki Site” – the big vacant lot between Stuart Ranch Road and the new community college campus site (currently, the Malibu Labor Exchange) in downtown Malibu. Strangely, this has not been reported anywhere.

Two alternate proposals were filed: one with buildings covering 15 percent of the lot, the other with buildings covering 20 percent of the lot. Both projects are nearly identical, except the denser alternative would take advantage of density bonuses that the city can award to a project if it provides vital public benefits. 

In this case, the vital public benefits offered in exchange for the density bonus would be a 5,000-square-foot urgent care center and a tot lot playground.

Beloved Malibu architect Ed Niles has proposed modern, sleek buildings that are instantly recognizable as Ed Niles creations. They are two stories tall in places. They are iconic Niles with arched roofs, lots of glass, trees, ponds, all the touches.

The 20 percent plan calls for 58,567-square-feet of floor space on the ground floor, including the 5,000-foot medical clinic. The second floor would add 22,433 square feet, for a total of 81,000 square feet.

That equals exactly a .20 Floor Area Ratio. Amazing how that penciled out.

As near as I can tell, it also means one variance from the city. Instead of the site having 65 percent open space or landscaping, the Malibu Sycamore Village would have 55 percent landscaping.

So says the architect. But I have some questions about this.

Are they really counting the space between the buildings, what are commonly called hallways, as open space?

There are trees and open spaces to the sky zigzagging all over through your structures. There are what appear to be courtyards and other open interior spaces. Do those count as landscaping?

Malibu Bay Company also has a roof or trellis over some sort of an “open air exhibition pavilion and market.” This area appears to be enclosed on three sides by buildings. It looks rather large.

Does that count as building floor space? Or did you calculate it as open space?

In the front, there’s a driveway with a fire department-sized turnaround. There is a roof of some sort over it. Is that landscaping or open space, or floor area?

What is the traffic plan? Does this rely on the discredited, insufficient La Paz plan to widen Webb Way to six lanes? What will be the traffic impact, please?

If Webb Way does become six lanes wide, as Don Schmitz  proposes, about four of those lanes would need to eat up a corner of the lot. If a chunk of the lot is needed for street realignment (instead of landscaping), that means the building is all of a sudden greater than 20 percent FAR.

This project was filed May 15, and the city staff has yet to even really crack it open. It’s amazing no one has printed a story on it yet. Lots of questions, here, that I think the public needs answered.

Hans Laetz June 25, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I remember a decade ago, when the Malibu Bay Company hired a terrific local architect for the proposal that eventually became Proposition M. I remember then how people were insulted and belittled for poking into the grand Malibu Bay Company plan. "You're not an attorney!" "You're not an architect!" "This is good for you!" The fact of the matter is that non-attorneys like me are perfectly withing their rights to weigh on on matters of public concern. If you think that is defamatory, please go see an attorney. It is not anyone's job to come up with a legal project other than the applicant. If the FAR is too big at this one -- as it clearly appears at this early stage to be -- then Mr. Niles and Mr. Perenchio and Mr. Smith can simply whittle it back down to the 15 percent max. If this project is downsized a little bit, to the 15 percent FAR maximum, it will probably be bulletproof. And very pretty. Of course, whether its feasible (profitable) or not is NOT the city's job to ensure. Since you ask my opinion, I think it looks very nice. Show us that it meets the FAR. Do your thing. Then build it.
Lester Tobias June 25, 2012 at 11:01 PM
That is inferred, not specific. Correct, but squishy.
John Mazza June 25, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I have not commented on anything but the code and general plan. I have not commented on this project.
Marshall Thompson June 26, 2012 at 03:25 AM
It is nauseating to have these nameless, cowardly shills hustling shadowy, grotesque projects. If you believe in these plans so much, have the integrity to reveal who you are. Hans is many things, but he stands on his own two feet and writes under his own identity. Your snarky remarks about his qualifications are laughable. You clowns have zero credibility. You may be enjoying your clever jousting or other intellectual pursuits, but you are gutless scum in my opinion. Your god is money and power. I fart in your general direction.
Hans Laetz June 27, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Well, it looks like one of the builders who was in this conversation deleted all his entries and went underground. Reminds me of the original Trancas developer, but I digress. All the above back and forth now makes no sense. Pity. I bumped into Adam Smith at the city council meeting last night. Great guy, really. I was going to put in a speakers slip for him on the sewer issue, but he beat me to it.

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