The Malibu City Council voted Monday to continue with the formation of a Community Facilites District and call a special election for the levy of special taxes on select commercial property owners as part of an effort to fund the cost of sewer design plans.
In a 4-1 vote, the council agreed to move forward, with Councilman Skylar Peak dissenting.
"I don't think anyone of us wanted this, but ... it's the law," Malibu Mayor Laura Zahn Rosenthal said, adding that she hopes the discussion around the issue keeps to the facts.
The city declared its intent to form the district on June 27, the first of many steps needed to finance the design of the proposed Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility. The city has already spent $2.6 million on the plans, with up to $4 million more needed for the final designs.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Regional Water Quality Board, the city is required to meet strict timelines to ensure that progress is being made on the design and construction of the sewer. The MOU requires commercial properties in the Civic Center Prohibition Area be connected to a centralized wastewater treatment facility by November 15, 2015.
Only 15 property owners within the CFD would be allowed to vote. If at least two-thirds of the property owners approve the tax, the $6.5 million in bonds needed to fund the design plans could be issued by December.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said two property owners did not sign the waiver, meaning the election cannot be held until Nov. 20.
During a public hearing, David Reznick of the Malibu Bay Co. said he believes property owners support the CFD and hopes the city can stay on schedule.
“I wanted to offer to see if we could find some creative ways to create some funding prior to the vote of the CFD,” Reznick said.
Steve Soboroff, who is developing the Whole Foods in the Park project, said he supports the CFD.
“Come hell or high water no matter what happens, this civic center has to stop polluting the ocean,” Soboroff said, as he was interrupted by protest from the audience.
Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin said the city does not agree that Civic Center is polluting the ocean based on new science that was submitted to the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Hogin said the amount of development that is allowed on property in the Civic Center is governed by the city's Local Coastal Program and its zoning ordinances.
"The city does not believe the Civic Center is polluting the ocean, but we are committed to phase one," Hogin said. "It will not be growth inducing for the Civic Center."
Mayor Pro Tem Lou La Monte said the city is not a bank and that property owners, who will benefit from the centralized sewer system, need to pay their fair share.
"I think this particular solution, while we are not positive it is going to work, this $6.5 millionis a way to find out," La Monte said.
Both Councilmembers Joan House and John Sibert reiterated the need to make sure the city does not pay any more for the design costs.