The staff of the California Coastal Commission has recommended against a request by General Motors to build an $11-million advanced design center on Pacific Coast Highway across from Pepperdine University in Malibu.
The General Motors Advanced Concept Center is proposed as a three-story, 85,000-square-foot building housing 70 employees whose "primary goal is the development of advanced designs to be incorporated into auto production in the year 2010 and later," said Judy Anderson, a spokeswoman for the auto maker.
Access to Talent
General Motors wanted to locate in Southern California because trends are set here, Anderson said, and because of the "access to the design talent on the West Coast." The proposed Malibu center, with engineering laboratories, conference rooms, library, and paint, metal and wood shops, as well as an enclosed courtyard, would be "aesthetically appealing, good for creativity," she said.
The center is designed to blend in with a bluff on the 24-acre site, with only 17 feet of the structure protruding above the bluff top.
The site is on the southeast corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road, just south of the 220,000-square-foot Adamson hotel project and west of the 90-acre Malibu Bluff State Park.
The Coastal Commission staff said that use of the General Motors site for a design center conflicts with the commission's land-use plan for Malibu, which reserves the site for facilities to accommodate recreational visitors, said coastal planner Gary Timm.
Timm also said construction of the center would conflict with a commission policy against building in the civic center area of Malibu until a community sewer system can be installed.
"But the main objection is over the use of the land," Timm said. "The coastal act reserves priority (for) recreation and coastal-dependent land uses. And it is not necessary that this project be located there."
Public Hearing Set
The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the auto maker's proposal Nov. 13 in San Francisco.
Tony Gagliardi, manager of public relations for General Motors' Technical Center in Detroit, refused to comment on the commission staff's recommendation. "We can't comment on this until it happens," he said referring to the commission's November hearing.
Anderson also said General Motors is planning to close its design center in Newbury Park in Ventura County and transfer those employees to the Malibu site when it is completed.
Leon Cooper, president of the Malibu Township Council, a civic organization that claims to represent 1,300 families, said that although the council's board of directors has not yet taken a position on the project, he objected to the county's approval of the proposal.
"My principal objection to this sort of thing is that, like everything else in the civic center area, it is done without any planning and detail as to what other facilities will eventually go in there," he said. "This is plain silly planning and I hold the county responsible.
"And in the face of the county's claim that there is no adequate provision for treatment of effluent in Malibu, they are issuing permits for development. You can't have it both ways."
Cooper also said he objected to the Coastal Commission holding its hearing in San Francisco.
"Since it is a Malibu matter, why is it not being scheduled for down here? I don't understand the commission's logic requiring us to travel that distance to speak at the meeting," he said.
But Timm said the scheduling of the hearing in San Francisco was just the "draw of the cards. The first hearing it could be scheduled for was in San Francisco," he said. "The only way to way to move it to December's meeting (which will be held in Los Angeles) is on the applicant's request or if the commission decides to reschedule it."