In an unusual move, City Council Monday voted to delay a final hearing and approval of the environmental impact report for the controversial Whole Foods and the Park project, which is set to bring a 38,425-square-foot, five-building retail development, as well as community-serving parks and outdoor space, to Malibu’s Civic Center, rescheduling it for Monday, July 20 at 4 p.m.
The decision, which was made after 9 p.m., raised a ruckus in Council Chambers, where representatives from both sides shouted out their opinions on whether or not to delay the hearing.
The primary group opposing the project, Save Malibu, announced they were prepared to present a privately funded traffic study expected to contradict studies done by city contractors which show no increase in traffic to Malibu over 20 years.
City Council Chambers Monday were filled with a standing-room-only crowd in anticipation of a knock-down, drag-out fight between developer Steve Soboroff and activist Rob Reiner.
“I don’t think we should make decisions as important as this at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Mayor John Sibert said.
Councilmember Skylar Peak agreed.
“I have a gut feeling we have to do it right,” Peak said.
Councilmember Joan House then asked the audience to raise their hands if they wouldn’t mind having their speaking time cut to two minutes per speaker, down from three. At this, audience members shouted back at her, “No!”
“I asked you to raise your hands,” a noticeably irritated House said. “No reason to get uppity about it.”
Soboroff himself declared he was “not interested” in putting off the hearing.
“It’s not that late now, and I think there’s no reason why —” Soboroff said.
“Steve, it’s nine o’clock,” Peak said, cutting off Soboroff.
“I’ve seen a lot of your meetings on TV until one o’clock,” Soboroff retorted. “People are just trying to stall.”
Soboroff then began to accuse Council of being swayed by an unnamed outside motive.
“What did you learn tonight to make this turn over?” Soboroff asked.
Peak didn’t take the bait, instead replying, “I think it’s a … very important issue in our city, and I know that you recognize that.”