If the battle over Civic Center development plays out like a drama, a new act has just begun.
Late last week, a draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed Whole Foods at the corner of Cross Creek Road and Civic Center Way was published on the City of Malibu website. It is also available at City Hall and the Malibu Library.
Anticipation for the draft EIR has been building for years, since a scoping meeting took place in May 2012, at which residents, stakeholders and agencies were asked to comment on the proposed project.
Tension only grew in 2014 as the new Whole Foods became a symbol of development used by both sides of the Measure R debate. Developer Steve Soboroff, whose LLC, The Park at Cross Creek, is proposing the 38,425-square-foot, five-building project, was also the financial backer of the “No on R” campaign, and has recently filed a lawsuit against the city together with the Malibu Bay Company.
According to Soboroff, the development will spell big profits for the city, since he anticipates sales will be high.
When asked how much revenue he anticipates Whole Foods will garner for the city, he said it would be “substantial.”
“I think it would be substantial money to the city, to provide services like sheriff, fire, parks, schools, all the things that the city uses its funds for,” Soboroff said, “I think it will be very positive for the city.”
The draft EIR describes in detail the proposed development, which includes a 24,549 square-foot Whole Foods Market and four smaller commercial retail buildings, forming a courtyard around a central parking area with landscaping and outdoor amenities.
The project is designed to hook up to the planned Civic Center sewer the city plans on constructing.
The proposed parking area includes 220 parking stalls, seven of which will be handicapped accessible and 38 of which will be compact, together with 16 bicycle spaces, four golf cart spaces, two electric vehicle charging spaces and 520 square feet of soft-surface area for horse parking, with four hitching posts and a watering trough.
The site plan includes two driveways: one on Civic Center Way near the west end of the development (opposite the Country Mart Shopping Center driveway) and one on Cross Creek Road.
Although according to planners and the draft EIR, subterranean parking has been approved for the proposed La Paz development located adjacent to the Whole Foods, underground parking is not a possibility at the site.
“The provision of underground parking would allow for a greater amount of landscaping on the site, however, due to the high water table under the project site (less than 10 feet below ground surface), underground parking is not feasible,” reads the draft EIR.
The draft EIR includes a traffic study claiming no significant traffic increase would occur with the construction of the Whole Foods, based on numbers gathered in on Thursday, July 12, 2013 and Saturday, July 14, 2013.
A traffic study was conducted in response to public comments submitted at a scoping meeting in May 2012, at which time many residents reached out with concerns.
“I know that all the comments that were submitted were submitted to the city’s EIR consultant, Impact Sciences, and they were reviewed and incorporated into analysis, wherever appropriate,” said Contract Planner Jasch Janowicz, contact for the project with the City of Malibu.
Other concerns included aesthetics; biological resources; geology, soils and seismicity; hazards and hazardous materials; land use and planning; public services; utilities and service systems; air quality; cultural resources; greenhouse gas emissions; hydrology and water quality; noise; and traffic, circulation and parking. Each of these topics has its own section in the draft EIR.
More than a dozen public comments regarding traffic and fire emergency access were submitted and addressed in the draft EIR.
“Increased vehicle traffic generated at buildout of the proposed project and the related projects could adversely affect the operating condition of the local roadway network. Increased cumulative traffic could slow fire response times,” the draft EIR reads.
The traffic study results claim the development would not, however, “result in inadequate emergency access,” and added “a secondary access would be provided on Cross Creek Road to facilitate emergency/fire service access if needed.”
Overall, the “traffic generated by the proposed project would not exceed the arterial traffic impact significance thresholds of 0.05 at any study area street segments,” reads the report, which studied PCH east of Cross Creek Road, PCH west of Malibu Canyon Road and Malibu Canyon Road north of Civic center Way.
The City of Malibu is now accepting comments on the draft EIR.
The 45-day public comment period began Feb. 5 and runs through March 23, at which time residents and experts are welcomed to submit comments, concerns and questions to the city. These can be directed to Janowicz, either via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or addressed to Janowicz at City of Malibu-Planning Department, 23825 Stuart Ranch Rd., Malibu, CA, 90265.
A public hearing on the draft EIR is scheduled for Monday, March 2, where comments will also be accepted at the Malibu Planning Commission.