City hires new planning manager

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The city of Malibu announced last week that C.J. Amstrup has been hired as the city’s new planning manager. Amstrup is the permanent replacement for Mike Teruya, who resigned in April due to illness. Amstrup will begin work on Monday.

Amstrup’s resume includes 15 years of professional municipal planning, but something not included on it is dealing with the California Coastal Commission. He has never worked for a city within the coastal zone, nor has he ever dealt with a Local Coastal Program or any coastal issues. Amstrup said when he worked in San Juan Capistrano for 10 years in the `90s, he worked on land and water quality issues, but admitted that coastal issues are much more complicated than that.

“I’m not terribly concerned about it [coastal issues] being over my head,” Amstrup said. “There’s going to be a fast learning curve.”

City Manager Katie Lichtig, who, along with Environmental and Community Development Director Vic Peterson, made the decision to hire Amstrup, said he was well qualified for the job, despite not having any coastal planning experience.

“I think it is clear that a solid planning background is a precursor to planning in general,” Lichtig said. “Many planning issues are the same here as they are in any other community.”

Lichtig added that the city already has planning staff members who have experience interacting with the Coastal Commission, so she does not think it is a problem that Amstrup has none.

In the coming months, city staff could be working closely with the Coastal Commission. Last month, Coastal Commission staff informed the city it would be recommending to the Coastal Commission voting body that it not accept Malibu’s amendment proposal to the Coastal Commission-drafted LCP. The LCP is a set of documents that establishes coastal land-use laws for the city. But the Coastal Commission staff said it was willing to work with the city on new amendment language, if Malibu was willing to withdraw its amendment proposal.

Amstrup had been working the past month as a senior planner for Santa Monica. He said he did not believe he was a good fit for the job there because Santa Monica seemed more interested in meeting deadlines with its permitting, rather than the best process.

“I like the idea of stewardship to community and those types of things,” Amstrup said.

Prior to coming to Santa Monica, he spent three years as a senior planner for West Hollywood, with his service including a six-month stint as acting planning manager. There, Amstrup met Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin, whose law firm Jenkins and Hogin also represents West Hollywood. Amstrup said Hogin encouraged him to apply for the Malibu job.

Before coming to West Hollywood, Amstrup worked in the private sector as a planning consultant for two firms. These jobs came after working for the city of San Juan Capistrano.

Amstrup said he became interested in city planning while attending UC Davis in the late `80s. A political science and public administration major, Amstrup did one of his summer internships for the city of Davis’ Planning Department.

He began college majoring in architecture and decided to combine that field with planning for his eventual major. After graduating from UC Davis in 1990, Amstrup took a planning job with the city of Tracy.

Amstrup lives in Irvine, a one hour, 40 minute commute to Malibu. He said he really liked Topanga Canyon when he saw it, and might moved there. Oxnard also interests him as a living destination.

In his spare time, Amstrup enjoys home improvement and hiking.