Malibu Planning Director Announces Retirement

Malibu’s planning department is in for a shake-up, as Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski revealed this week that she plans to retire at the end of the year. 

Parker-Bozylinski, 64, said the idea has been on her mind for a while, and this year seemed like the right moment to end her stint in Malibu.

“It’s time,” she said. “…I’m really looking forward to waking up in the morning and not having anything to do.”

In December, the Colorado native will wrap up eight years of work as planning director in Malibu, including the last five consecutive years and three years from 1993 until 1996. The UCLA graduate has spent more than 30 years working in the public planning sector.

Reflecting on her time with the city, she said the everyday workload is always difficult to juggle.

“One of the challenges of working here is that there’s so many little things but there are so many issues that I need to respond to on a day-to-day basis it’s hard to make big plans, and so that has probably been the biggest challenge for me,” she said. 

That challenge, she said, results in frustrating delays, and seeing long-term projects come to fruition in Malibu requires patience, above all else.

“Generally, everything has to be at least preliminarily approved up front, and that’s because of the nature of Malibu. Geology [studies] have to be approved up front, wastewater [treatment system plans] have to be approved up front,” she said. “In a lot of communities, that happens in the building and safety stage. In Malibu, a lot of that is frontloaded. Just by the very nature of that, it adds a lot.”

During her tenure, the city has adopted view restoration and preservation ordinances, certified two housing elements (a first for the city), and the council has approved both the Public Access Map and the Public Trails Map. 

Parker-Bozylinski will leave the city during a crucial developmental crossroads, as Malibu’s Civic Center faces an onslaught of new development projects and the installation of a controversial sewer system. Later this year, voters will also consider a proposal, Measure R, that would require a communitywide vote on proposed commercial developments measuring over 20,000 square feet. 

Malibu’s willingness to get involved and comment on controversial projects is one of the rewarding aspects of the job, she said, as community engagement often helps shape the city’s policies — or stalls certain plans. 

“It’s both the fun and interesting part, which is sort of what people get into planning for, but it’s also the challenging part,” she said. “We have a very active community that likes to be involved in things, so that requires a lot of care and attention, which again to me is actually the fun part of the job, that process. The frustrating part of the job is if that process doesn’t go anywhere.”

Planning Commissioner John Mazza said Parker-Bozylinski’s departure will be a tough loss for the city planning department, citing a high turnover rate among junior planners and a number of projects in the pipeline.

“Joyce has been a five-year planning director…and she’s been very conscientious about her job,” Mazza said. 

“We have quite a few major planning projects such as EIRs, specific plans, the rewriting of our codes that there’s going to be huge shoes to fill,” he added. 

Between now and December, the planning director hopes to see through a few more major projects, including the introduction of a dark skies ordinance, an initial draft of the city’s rewritten zoning code, some work on Civic Center design guidelines and a finalized environmental report on the Civic Center sewer system.

“I feel there are a lot of good things going forward, I wish I could have seen them to the end,” she said.

City Manager Jim Thorsen could not be reached for comment as The Malibu Times went to press. It’s unclear whether the city will issue a request for applicants, but insiders said Thorsen is already searching for a replacement.

Parker-Bozylinski said she plans on doing some part-time consulting work with various cities after she retires, but is mostly looking forward to having an open schedule. 

“I like to be able to just wake up in the morning and go to yoga if I want to,” she said, as opposed to rushing to get to City Hall for her 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. work day. 

She lives in Thousand Oaks with her husband, Steven Bozylinski. 

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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