Malibu City Hall

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.”

(10) comments

Steve Woods

So much for the Strip Mall EIR delay . the City Council remains in denial of the reality of its own bogus traffic studies . How the Council passed an EIR based on phoney balony baseline data that will directly impact the future of Malibu is incomprehensible . Why the traffic engineer was not immediately fired and a delay / request for a real traffic study that is in sync with reality is completely irresponsible.
If the Council acted in accordance to its constituents and the general plan instead of those who want to subvert the truth ,perhaps the Coastal Commission would not have to step in or have an angry electorate establish a Measure R in order to take power away from developers who do not care about our future on PCH or Criss Crossed Creek Road

Thomas Smith

Why is Dickens even involved in this conversation, absolutely irreverent. The Facts are clear that traffic and lack of resources is out of control here, we can barely support the invasion of students every year that Pepperdine brings. REALITY CHECK, simply put, no matter how nice to have a "Whole Foods" in our area we CANNOT sustain overbuilding of commercial property in this area. Put a "Whole Foods" in the Lumber Yard! Personally I am sick of the "profit taking" by Foreigners and "Others" who have no commitment to Malibu as a community or as an environment to protect.

Steve Woods

Yes Johnny- boy (Fake Name Developer/ Investor) Right , you are referring to Dickens and his profound quote where the guillotine did it's work against the facts of profound truth . If you could please find just one Real local who could support your claim that traffic has not increased in 20 years ,it would be a miraculous start .
Your Challenge is on
Good luck, Please list the thousands of those residents who agree with you here ASAP.
Okay ,,, how about just one real resident with a real verifiable name ?


Jon Right

Woodsey, it was a metaphor, you should read Dickens. The reference was to the french revolution, where women watched the guillotine do it's work while they were knitting. Reading the classics would be far more educational than posting 1000 comments in the MT.

After all the effort getting "R" passed, to take control away from the elected officials, why not just let the people vote on Whole foods. Or, maybe the dissidents are afraid the voters will decide contrary to their personal agendas.

One thing is certain, if someone was paid to do a traffic study, and they knew what the client wanted to prove, the conclusions would likely confirm the clients views. It is simply a way to stay in the studies business.

Thirty years ago we could not drive through Malibu on a summer Sunday afternoon. We still can't, nothing much has changed.

Steve Woods

Hey Jon JON , none of the young people I saw at the meeting who were distraught about the phoney baloney traffic studies had knitting needles ,in fact there were zero knitting needles at the meeting but alot of the more mature LOCAL residents did have notes and papers of proof sitting on their laps proving that Traffic have increased by double digits year after year all across Malibu .
No wonder Soberoff wanted this meeting rushed and voted on , before the real facts were exposed to the City Council .

Hans Laetz

And by the way. The Planning Commission approved the project after stating they wished that the opponents' traffic worries were substantiated by an outside expert. Here it is.

The city council is the elected body, not the planning commission. They will make a decision after seeing the evidence and hearing the arguments.

Small wonder that some wanted to sweep the new traffic study under the rug and rush the decision. Small wonder that their minions attack the people of Malibu as " the vocal crowd at City Hall, sitting in the audience with their knitting needles." Small wonder that they hide behind fake names, and attack those who put their names on the line.

Hans Laetz

There is enormous new evidence. Several residents (not me) paid for an independent traffic consultant -- it was peer reviewed and much more thorough than the part-time consultant who claimed traffic hasn't gone up in 25 years.

And the results are DEVASTATING.

Instead of taking Mr. Soboroff's word, the consultant looked at the actual experience of Burbank and other cities where Whole Foods opened up. The city's estimates for Whole Foods Malibu are 239 percent lowballed. TWO HUNDRED 39 PERCENT.

It calls the city's claim that traffic has not gone up in 25 years "very misleading."

It notes the city forgot to count traffic to be generated by the park, which the applicant is counting on to become a public attraction.

It notes the city's traffic studies were done on foggy days when Pepperdine and the schools were out.

It fails to note that Malibu experiences heavy traffic outside traditional rush hour.

It says Cross Creek Road is nearly at capacity and cannot hold the additional traffic that the Whole Foods would generate.

It says the city ignored the impact of a corked-up Cross Creek Road on access to Serra Estates, particularly emergency access.

And more. Lots more.

Steve Soboroff knew that Monday night, as arms flailed and spittle flew. No wonder he wanted that independent, peer reviewed study swept under the rug.

Make no mistake. Soboroff and his employees like "Jon Right" are going to attack me, attack the traffic study, attack the city council, and attack anyone who dares question the fast track steam train that has just derailed.

Steve Woods

Jon (scared to use his real name ) Right , Why ,oh ,why would such a majority in the community be so concerned or object to the development of another Strip Mall that is greased on faulty baseline traffic studies ?
If another strip mall was such a great wonderful and needed project for our poor remote deprived community why wouldn't we be out there with chain saws cutting down native sycamore trees our selves and praising out of town developers for stepping in and giving us the urbanization that we so desperately need and are praying for ?
Maybe because the residents realize that the negative consequences of inviting more strip mall out of town shoppers and the existing out of control gridlock far out weighs any positives of purchasing organic veggies at any of the other existing markets .
Even if the 100's of thousands of square feet of existing developed commercial spaces that are sitting empty from Trancas to Topanga were filled to capacity, we understand that PCH cannot handle the constant year to year increasing loads that further development would require to be profitable .
The owners of these properties invested in the civic center properties in the era long before Z traffic choked our canyons and PCH and long before the massive population growths of Agoura , Calabassas , Thousand Oaks , Newbury Park , Camarillo , Oxnard and Ventura whose commuters are using our only artery through town to get to down town . We cannot keep people from using our public roadways but we can object to developments that do not serve our local needs . Malibu is a host to millions of beach enthusiast ,we do not want to be another generic commercial shopping destination. Malibu is special and another strip mall does not make Malibu more special. Sometimes risky investments are,, well , just bad investments . Urban Outfitters can attest to that .

Jon Right

This is an appeal of the planning commission's approval of the project. Why would the Council reverse that decision? Is there new evidence that the information presented to the planning commission is flawed? The primary argument those opposed to the project have is that they do not believe the traffic study. This is not new evidence but a repeat of a previous claim considered and rejected.

It would not matter how many "studies" are conducted, the vocal crowd at City Hall, sitting in the audience with their knitting needles, will never be convinced. Their agenda is to stop the project. Traffic studies, sycamore trees, Chumash bones, monarch butterflies, it doesn't matter to them. They think they can win by shouting the loudest at the City Council members. Let's hope that doesn't work.

Jeff Jennings made the argument that this was the perfect case for measure "R." It complies with the law, so, let's all just vote on it. After that, we will see if the courts will agree with the community activists or stand with constitutional property rights.

Steve Woods

A clearly frustrated Soberoff suggested that each side get an hour to present their case in order to cut down on time ,even though it was clear that Opposition greatly out numbered Supporters for the new proposed Shopping Center . That suggestion was not well received by the crowd of concerned locals .
Being aware of the gravity of this contentious issue ,Skylar made the right call to reschedule the public comments in order for all of the residents to be able to voice their full opinions concerning the future of Malibu .
Part of the EIR is based on traffic studies that state PCH traffic levels have not increased in 18 -25 years !!!!! . Other questionable aspects about the project will be presented by a Coalition of Concerned Community members but anyone who believes that traffic has not increased in the last 20 years should show up and educate the council on the reality of PCH .
Would anyone be willing to step up to the podium and agree with the hired traffic consultants that conclude that traffic has not increased ?
It is obvious that if hired consultants play down the real double digit traffic increases you can try to justify funneling tens of thousands more shoppers down a pedestrian clogged Cris Crossed Creek Road to the proposed Strip Malls.
Its Getting Real on the PCH Parking Lot !

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