Influencing Malibu’s Growth While Maintaining Its Character

Over the past 3 decades, Schmitz & Associates has collaborated with pragmatic developers, aspiring homeowners, and city leaders as a holistic part of the Malibu community. We have endeavored to ensure that the growth of the community does not come at the expense of any one cause.  Whether it be the pristine coastal ecosystem, a neighbor’s view corridor, local traffic and commuter concerns, City and local bylaws, etc.; the end goal is one that accounts for all parties impacted by the project.

The exciting launch of the Surfrider Hotel on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is a recent example of a commercial success that revitalized a community business while protecting the established character, ultimately achieving the objective of high-quality design within the confines of a hotel renovation.

Surfrider co-owners, Matthew Goodwin, Alessandro Zampedri, and Emma Crowther had a dream of revamping a 70+ year old motel on the Pacific Coast Highway to become a modern motel, featuring a rooftop deck ideal for lavishing guests with fine food and hand-crafted drinks.

Recognizing our firm’s commitment to excellence and impeccable track record, they retained us to bring the dream of the roof top bar to fruition.

When looking to develop in a City like Malibu that encompasses vast natural habitat and coastal resources, complex projects like a motel renovation require a team that is well-versed in innovative development, progressive livability, and smart planning.

Our firm’s principal, Don Schmitz, has long been known as a leader within the Malibu community, previously serving as the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Trails Committee, regularly interfacing with City Council, and actively participating in all matters critical to our great town. He has an unparalleled understanding of the public’s core values and maintains direct lines of communication with numerous elected officials and community leaders.

When adding cocktails to the rooftop experience became a part of the Surfrider’s plan, we deftly addressed opposition and quelled potential backlash with a coordinated outreach effort.  This partnership with those in the surrounding community facilitated the CUP approval and ensured that no one party was left wanting.

Due to the different license types and volatility surrounding approval of alcohol serving establishments, presenting the matter and winning the approval of elected officials is something that only a land use planning firm with long established relationships could understand and carry to fruition. Not only was the liquor license approved, but we were able to obtain the coveted, although rarely approved, Type 70 license, allowing the hotel to serve overnight guests and invitees of overnight guests.

We always takes the extra step to ensure that our client’s endeavors are not only successful, but responsible. Making the community’s interests a top priority encouraged elected officials, who knew we were looking to collaborate, rather than just advocate, for thoughtless business expansion. Along with the Surfrider owners, we anticipated that there would be concern over the general public trying to inappropriately use the roof top bar intended solely for Hotel guests.  To proactively address the concerns, we came up with a practical solution.

“Hotel guests could pay for their drinks with their hotel keycard only.”

Adopting this payment method was a simple concession that represented intelligent compromise by the Surfrider Team, city officials and potential opponents.  It also enhanced the livability of the hotel, by reducing overcrowding and enhancing guest experience.  Last, it was truly a win for the city too, as they are able to add another intelligent business partner to their already extensive and exquisite list.

Creating greater consensus, we garnered the support of those residential neighbors who were in support of the renovation and beautification of a dilapidated Motel, but concerned over the potential spill-over effects from a roof top bar.  Many of these residents chose to speak at the city hearing on behalf of the project. Residents who lived across the street and above the cliff enthusiastically implored the planning commission to approve the alcohol permit even though they would not benefit from drinking or eating at the bar, even calling the Surfrider Hotel one of the few “thoughtful businesses” being built in their community.

Those wanting to realize their dream home or business don’t have to disrupt the community, they can collaborate and establish a win-win for all. Just ask the proud and successful owners of the Surfrider Hotel; Malibu’s latest community members.