An ingenious construction plan for the Rancho Malibu Hotel gets around most City Council objections, and organizations that promote safety come out ahead during grant money disbursement.

By Sylvie Belmond/Staff Writer

Despite a creative loophole used by the architects of the Rancho Malibu Hotel, also knows as the Adamson Hotel, the Malibu City Council approved their revised site plan proposal in a 3-2 vote Monday.

The new plans incorporate 106 rooms that would include 40 luxury suites with two bedrooms each. These 40 suites will later be divided into individual guest rooms, which will add another 40 rooms to the hotel, thus curtailing further construction.

"They came up with a very clever solution with the luxury suites option," said Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Jennings.

Originally, the hotel owner wanted a 300-room hotel, but the city restricted it to 106 rooms with certain conditions. If these conditions were met, the owner could add 40 more rooms in the future.

Then on March 23, 1998, the City Council approved the hotel at the northeast corner of Malibu Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway. It was to be constructed in two phases. The first phase included 106 rooms; the second phase would divide the two-bedroom suites, creating 40 more rooms, if certain conditions were met.

This second phase condition was placed on the project because it gave the city a chance to observe how the hotel would impact the community before it expands.

If the occupancy rate shows that the community needs more hotel rooms and the hotel stays within the city guidelines in regard to waste water, traffic and other similar concerns, the city will allow it to add the 40 rooms.

At Monday's meeting, the council was split on this decision. Councilmember Ken Kearsley and Mayor Joan House opposed the idea. But the former City Council, under Walt Keller and Carolyn Van Horn, made a mistake that allowed the builder to get around the rules, said Kearsley.

In other matters, the City Council awarded $100,000 from its annual General Fund Grants for the year 2001-2002 to several non-profit organizations in the community. During a two-month solicitation period, 19 applicants from various non-profit organizations in Malibu asked for fiscal help, with a total funding request of more than half million dollars. But the city's Grant total was limited to $100,000, so the Administrative and Financial Sub-Committee had to choose among the applicants. It based its decision on public safety, first.

The Friends of St. Johns Urgent Care Center received $25,000 to help keep the center open. Saint Johns Urgent Care Center is the only medical facility that provides off-hour medical care in Malibu. The center was sponsored by Saint Johns Medical Center in Santa Monica until last year, when the hospital had to cut short its funding. The Friend's of Saint Johns has been raising funds to help the center, and the city stepped in to help.

The Friends of the Arson Watch received $1,000, and $7,750 was awarded to the Los Angeles County Disaster Communications Services.

As the committee distributed the funds, it also gave $15,000 to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District for a Bilingual & Youth/Family Counseling Program, and $15,000 was awarded to the Malibu Community Labor Exchange. The Children's Lifesaving Foundation received $7,000, and $12,500 went to the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families.

After disbursing a total of total of $83,250, the subcommittee asked for the council's help as it attempted to grant the $16,750 balance. The council agreed to divide it equally among six groups that will receive $2,791.66 each: The Malibu Film Festival, Cornucopia Farm, Pet Companions, Children's Creative Work Shop, The Esperance Center and Malibu Ballet.

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