MALIBU—On Monday, July 13, Malibu City Council motioned in favor of an appeal against a Planning Commission decision that denied a Malibu resident a remodel to his two-story beachfront property. City Council members claimed that the Planning Commission misinterpreted city ordinances and attempted to change the rules that have been in place for several years.

Although backed by City Staff, the Planning Commission did not approve the homeowner’s remodeling this past February due to the proposed dimensions and the adverse impact it would have on the neighborhood’s character.

According to the planning commission, the home would have violated the city’s two-thirds rule, which doesn’t allow for the square footage on the second floor of a home to be more than two-thirds the square footage of the first floor. The ordinance intends to deter homes from taking on too much of a “boxy” shape. Councilmembers argued that existing homes, as well as neighboring homes, already have “boxy” shapes.

The issue lies in the Planning Commission’s decision to measure the proposed building remodel using gross floor area as opposed to total development square footage, which has been a city code since 2008.

Councilmembers backed the remodel’s proposal and the policy that entails the zoning ordinance to use TDSF. Council members did admit however that the language of the code that can be vaguely interpreted as the use of measurement is not clearly defined, but condemned the Planning Commission for changing the code on the fly.

“These appeals are gumming up the works, it’s slowing everything down, it’s not helping anybody. You’re creating a system where only the rich can even afford to attempt to build in Malibu. And I urge you to stop it. Help us clean up the code. Don’t make it up on the fly,” said recently appointed Mayor Mikke Pierson during the meeting.

Mayor Pierson noted the number of homes that have been denied approval by the Planning Commission despite public support backing the remodels, condemning the criteria for neighborhood character.

“If the neighbors vote for it… I don’t understand where you can make that determination. I really don’t. We’re here to serve the public, and it’s not about serving ourselves,” Pierson said.

The home remodels have been in the works since 2017 by property owner Michael Price. A representative for Price spoke in front of the City Council on Monday noting that the party has complied with the city’s building regulations since its proposal. Doug Burdge, who has worked on many properties throughout Malibu, is the architect in charge of the project.

The property is located near El Sol County Beach off of Pacific Coast Highway. The home is not visible from PCH and does not obstruct ocean views, but is visible when looking up from the beach. The home is seeking to build an additional closed area on the second floor with a covered deck on the first floor. The home also includes a detached second unit.