The image of developers lining up earthmovers to invade the Malibu Civic Center has probably kept Measure R proponents up at night since learning on April 5 that the voter-approved formula retail ordinance was struck down in court. However, a May 10 appeals court ruling should have slow-growthers breathing a sigh of relief.
News broke late Tuesday that Measure R would be back in effect in the City of Malibu while an appeal of the April decision making the formula retail ordinance illegal works its way through court.
A panel of three judges signed the decision, which came about after interveners filed written papers asking for the ordinance to go back into place during the appeal process.
The decision, which stated the “writ of supersedeas is granted,” essentially places a stay on the earlier decision, which would have kept the law from being enforced anywhere in the city.
Questions as to what the latest court decision means for the city have now arisen.
Can developers continue to process paperwork, in the hopes that the court will eventually uphold its decision marking Measure R illegal?
Will an item directing city council to consider a new formula retail ordinance appear on any city council agendas?
Will the city join in the appeal, which was launched by interveners Michele Reiner, Carol Moss and Dru Ann Dixon-Jacobson?
Will the timeline for the appeal be altered?
There are clues, at least, to the third question.
During the Monday, May 9, council meeting, City Attorney Christi Hogin said that the appeal would likely last 12 to 18 months.
Following the Tuesday decision, Hogin predicted that the case could move quicker than her prediction.
“They’re going to move through this, maybe a little more quickly than most cases,” Hogin said. “Maybe it will be inside the year we estimated last night.”
The new time estimate was based on directives included in the decision.
“The court discourages the parties from filing requests for extensions of time to file the appellate briefs in this matter,” the court document stated. “Absent a showing of exceptional circumstances, no extensions of time will be granted, and oral argument will be scheduled at the earliest possible date following the completion of briefing.”
About 60 percent of Malibu voters approved Measure R in November 2014, but developers including the Malibu Bay Company and the Park at Cross Creek filed a lawsuit against the ordinance soon after.
That suit was successful, with Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant striking down the formula retail ordinance on the grounds that some of the restrictions to development were unlawful.
“The court will issue a declaratory judgment that Measure R is invalid and an injunction preventing the city from enforcing Measure R,” the preliminary judgement from December 2015 stated.
That injunction is now not in effect.
“The judgement granting declaratory and injunctive relief, entered April 5, 2016, is hereby ordered stayed in its entirety, pending resolution of the appeal,” the May 10 ruling stated.