Development projects in Malibu – already difficult to shepherd through – have just gotten tougher thanks to last week’s passage of Measure R.

Fifty-nine percent of Malibu voters approved the measure, which will require all commercial developments of more than 20,000 square feet to be approved by voters and limiting the proportion of chain stores in new developments to no more than 30 percent, based on square footage.

Yet even though some developers said during the campaign that passage of the measure could kill their projects, two of those developers said after the election that they intend to push forward, despite having to get voter approval.

Retail developer and L.A. civic leader Steve Soboroff said he will proceed with plans for a 25,000-square-foot Whole Foods store and a park on property he owns near Malibu’s Civic Center. Soboroff, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, was an outspoken critic of Measure R, taking on its sponsor, Rob Reiner, in a spirited debate last month.

After the vote, Soboroff sent Reiner a congratulatory email. He also told the Business Journal, “I’m just moving forward on a great project.”

Meanwhile, David Reznick, president of the Malibu Bay Co., a development firm founded by billionaire Malibu landowner Jerrold Perenchio, said his firm will move forward on plans for an 80,000-square-foot project nearby. The plan includes 38,000 square feet of shops, 22,000 of office space, 15,000 of restaurants and a 5,000-square-foot urgent care center

“We submitted our application for the project to the city over two years ago and remain enthusiastic about our design and tenant mix,” Reznick said in an email to the Business Journal.

But Reznick also indicated the battle over Measure R might not be over, as legal challenges are being weighed.

“A number of property owners, including Malibu Bay Co., are evaluating options on how best to proceed,” he wrote. “No one should be surprised if one or more legal challenges are filed.”

Mark Persson, president of Malibu Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the proposition, said the measure changes the rules midstream for property owners, making it much more difficult and in some cases impossible to develop their property. He also said the measure treats some commercial developers unfairly, allowing some to proceed with their projects while preventing others from doing so.

Chambers Pick Winners

Democrats still hold sway in California and Los Angeles, but local business groups nonetheless managed to do pretty well with their election picks.

Voters sided with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s ballot picks on all of the five statewide propositions it weighed in on. The chamber’s pick for county assessor, Jeffrey Prang, held a 9,000-vote lead as of last Thursday, though that race was still too close to call. The only defeats: the chamber’s pick for Third District Los Angeles County supervisor, Bobby Shriver, lost to Sheila Kuehl and county parks measure Proposition P fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

“The business community and the general public were in sync on most of the candidates and issues in this election,” said chamber Chief Executive Gary Toebben.  

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Business Federation, or BizFed, endorsed 11 candidates in local contests. Three lost – Shriver among them – but two were leading in tight municipal races and six won outright, including incumbents in Downey, Pomona and Santa Monica. Voters also sided with BizFed on state propositions 1 (yes), and 45 and 46 (no).

The Central City Association, which primarily represents downtown L.A. business interests, was also largely in tune with voters. Six of the seven candidates the association backed for statewide or legislative posts won outright, while one – incumbent San Fernando Valley Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra – was trailing in a close contest. Like the chamber, the association picked winner Jim McDonnell for sheriff, Prang for assessor and Shriver for supervisor.

New Chief

The California Manufacturers and Technology Association has a new leader, and, for the first time, it’s a woman.

The Sacramento association’s chief lobbyist, Dorothy Rothrock, will take the helm in January from Jack Stewart, who led the organization for 23 years and, at 65, is retiring at the end of this year. Rothrock, 59, becomes the first woman to head the organization in its 96-year history.

Rothrock told the Business Journal she wants to stop the decline of manufacturing jobs in the state by focusing on improving the business climate for manufacturers and grow the group’s member roll.

Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 227.

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