To Mayor Joan House and members of the City Council:
We are concerned that the open and democratic process which was originally outlined for design of the Civic Center Specific Plan has been circumvented, threatening to undermine the public’s confidence in that process.
An independent, objective Citizens Advisory Group was appointed by the City Council. That group appropriately included representatives of local neighborhood associations, the community-at-large and property owners in the Civic Center area. The members of the advisory group spent hundreds of hours, including many hours of public comment, in crafting a draft Specific Plan that considered the full range of opinion among city residents. The open process invited participation by all residents of Malibu and each resident had an opportunity to influence the final draft. That draft — whether one agrees with all its specifics or not — reflects the true democratic spirit of give and take and objective consideration while fulfilling the task the advisory group was assigned by the city.
Unfortunately, the hard work of the Citizens Advisory Group has been given no respect by the council. Instead, the council has agreed to consider equally an alternative plan, developed behind closed doors, which represents only one narrow viewpoint. It was developed without public input or public hearings by individuals who had an opportunity to participate in and influence the open process of the Citizens Advisory Group and chose not to do so.
Even worse, the city’s decision to circumvent the originally outlined process shut out those with competing views, providing no ability or opportunity to participate by developing their own versions of the Specific Plan. Those holding other views received no notice that they would be able to submit their own plans for equal consideration. It is not clear that the city would have granted alternate proposals such fair and equal consideration even if they had been offered.
This circumvention of the fair and objective process originally outlined is especially troubling since the city encouraged participation in the advisory group by all the diverse parties in order to prevent them from pursuing a variety of independent and uncoordinated development approaches to individual parcels within the Civic Center area.
Now, participants in the advisory group and Malibu residents in general are left with a clear perception that their hard work may have been nothing more than a calculated sham — a way to clear the field for a single alternative, developed behind closed doors and acceptable to a narrow group with a private agenda. That perception is supported by the city’s decision to allow that single, narrow, privately drafted alternative to be granted equal consideration with the comprehensive and objective draft Specific Plan produced through the advisory group’s open process.
Malibu Bay Company