Struggle of Vision 2020 Plan is to work within Coastal Commission mandates.


Plan is estimated to cost $300,000.

By Page Getz /Special to The Malibu Times

The Malibu City Council met Saturday for a special meeting in the preliminary stages of the Malibu 2020 Vision Plan, to consider budget proposals and hear from council members in other cities where similar programs have been effective.

The plan would seek to use public feedback in determining what the community wants for the future of the city in terms of issues including traffic and housing, land development, zoning and the school system, said Rich Davis, Chairman and Managing Principal of Performance Development Corporation.

While the plan may be effective in finding a public consensus, Councilmember Andy Stern voiced concern that the authority of the California Coastal Commission would limit city planning.

Councilmember Jeff Jennings said there would be an ongoing struggle while lawsuits are still pending over the Coastal Commission-mandated Malibu Local Coastal Program (LCP).

“The Coastal Commission’s perceived mandate overlaps with almost everything the City Council does, so there is always going to be potential for different visions on how these two bodies are going to work together,” Jennings said. “It’s never going to be entirely smooth.”

Davis said it is issues like the LCP that make it critical the city has its own vision of what it will look like in the next 20 years.

Through workshops with neighborhood associations, citizens and the business community, Davis said identifying common priorities would give the city a concrete picture of what it wants and more importantly, what it doesn’t want.

“We only have 5,000 homes in Malibu and we’re going to have to go literally door to door,” Davis said. “If we can get input from even 1,000 to see what they would like to see, that is something that has never been done before. It’s long overdue.”

The outreach project is an unprecedented effort to engage members of the community who might otherwise find city affairs inaccessible, said Jennings.

“So much of the agenda of our city business gets driven by a relatively small group of people,” Jennings said. “The purpose of this program is to attract the broad citizenry of the town and to try to elicit views that otherwise we wouldn’t hear.

“The only way to maintain that broad vision is by first involving people who are not political players, who are not previously identified as partisans, and second, to give them the wherewithal to participate in the process,” he said.

The Vision 2020 team presented three proposals for alternative budgets. The council voted to postpone the selection of a budget until the quarterly meeting, April 30, to facilitate further research into funding.

The cost of the plan, to come from the General Fund Reserve, is estimated at as much as $300,000, a considerable expense for a city with a budget of $13 million, said Councilmember Joan House.

After a budget is selected, Davis said they would begin recruiting between 15 and 20 additional team members over several months. The initial Vision 2020 team is an informal committee comprised of volunteers, led by Davis.

“I have a number of candidates that are nonpolitical and are experienced in the planning process that are objective,” Davis said. “The important thing is that they are objective, because it’s not the team’s vision, it’s the vision of the community.”

Representatives from several coastal cities addressed some of the issues they faced in administering such programs in their own communities including, the city of Ventura, where a similar system has been successful for more than a decade, said Ventura Councilmember Carl Morehouse.

In Ventura, the challenge was in representing the diverse interests of the community and still managing to reach a consensus, Morehouse said.

“We don’t generally disagree about what we want, just how to get it,” Morehouse said. “Part of the challenge is finding people who really represent who they say they represent.

“You’ve got to go where the people are,” Morehouse said. “You can’t wait for them to come to us and you want to go as far and wide into the community as you can.”

The principals involved in such a broad plan can be abstract, but it is vital to the city to have a concrete vision for the future, said Mayor Ken Kearsley.

“We have to have a long-range strategic plan, because Malibu is like any other city, it’s going to change and we have to be a part of that change,” Kearsley said.