In an effort to break their deadlock with the state Coastal Commission over growth in Malibu, Los Angeles county planners propose to reduce the number of houses and apartments they would permit there.
The recommendations by county Planning Director Norman Murdoch would scale back housing from more than 12,095 apartments and houses to 6,582 units, or by nearly 15,000 people. In exchange, the county would want a commitment from the state to drop its requirement that builders purchase lots as open space before receiving approval for their projects.
"We have been going back and forth like a tennis match," Murdoch said. "This proposal is a creative compromise. It is a very balanced plan taking in the environmental needs of the residents and the recreational needs of the larger community."
His recommendations will be presented today to the county Regional Planning Commission. The agency will discuss whether to include the proposal with other modifications in the county's land-use plan for the Malibu coastal zone, which includes 27 miles of shoreline and extends five miles inland in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Coastal Commission refused to approve the previous land-use plan because it was at odds with the county over the amount of development to be allowed in Malibu and the measures that should be taken to protect its fragile coastal and mountain environment. The county submitted its plan to the Coastal Commission for approval in 1982 and again in 1985--but on both occasions was rebuffed.
Murdoch's recommendations were made in response to modifications suggested by the Coastal Commission. "This is designed to cut the Gordian knot of earlier disagreements with the Coastal Commission," he said.
The county's initial plan would have added the 12,095 new residential and apartment units to the 8,700 units that already exist in the community. The Coastal Commission recommended against the increase because it feared that the growth would adversely affect the coastal environment and the heavily traveled Pacific Coast Highway.
One means the commission has used to control growth in the region has been a "transfer of development credit program."
Under the program, developers seeking to have their projects approved by the commission are required to purchase vacant lots and keep them free from development.
Murdoch said that maintaining the program would be an "administrative nightmare."
He proposes that the county end the program but adopt the Coastal Commission's recommendation that only 6,582 units be constructed in the zone, including the development of no more than 1,200 units on small "cabin" lot subdivisions created in the 1920s in isolated sections of the coastal zone.
"It is a new idea that will help us quickly come to agreement by cutting through all the confusion and doing away with all the tricky formulas," Murdoch said.
In addition, he said that the county has agreed to a commission proposal to restrict growth until improvements along Pacific Coast Highway are made to accommodate the additional traffic. He also suggested a number of other modifications to the state recommendations:
Height limits should be increased from two to three stories when the view of the ocean is not impeded.
Restrictions prohibiting development to within 100 feet of streams should be reduced to 50 feet.
The amount of grading on each project should be determined by an individual review of each development instead of a state-suggested standard of restricting grading to 1,000 cubic yards per residential unit.
Plans to develop lower Topanga Canyon and the Malibu Civic Center should be separated from the land-use plan to be reviewed separately by the Coastal Commission.
Trancas Canyon should not be considered a site for urban expansion, but Point Dume, Paradise Cove, Topanga Canyon and the Malibu Civic Center should remain.