Roundtable still in business, still studying proposed business license

The city’s Business Roundtable was not disbanded along with most of the city’s other study groups last month, but it was reconstituted as an advisory group to the City Council. In their new status as independent consultants, members of the roundtable are no longer appointed by the council, and they are no longer subject to the open meeting laws applicable to public officials.

The following are some of the matters the roundtable is currently working on in conjunction with the city staff:

A Visitors’ Information Center

The roundtable has this year been pushing to establish a visitors’ information center, located in the vicinity of the Civic Center. Members say the northeast corner of Webb Way and PCH is the most desirable location for such a center. That parcel, the site of the annual crche, is owned by L.A. County. Roundtable members had hoped that the county would offer to sell the property to the city for a bargain, but in an offer that was sure to go nowhere, the county said it would only sell it for its fair market value of approximately $300,000.

In the latest development, City Manager Harry Peacock told members at the roundtable’s August meeting that the county may offer to lease the parcel to the city for a nominal amount of money.

“The county staff seems receptive to a lease,” said Peacock.

If established there, the visitors’ center would be housed in a portable building. Roundtable members want the center to provide information on city businesses, like restaurants and lodging, and on parks and recreation.

Roundtable member Craig Peeples said he would contact the state parks department to see if it had any interest in jointly staffing a visitors’ center.

An Economic Plan for the city of Malibu

The city applied for, and was recently awarded, a $24,000 community development block grant from the county to prepare an economic plan for the city. If the City Council accepts the grant, the money would be used to hire a consultant to work with the roundtable to perform an economic study of the city and develop an economic plan.

Roundtable members say an economic plan for the city would identify new and alternative revenue sources for city programs and services that would preserve and enhance the quality of life in Malibu. It would also provide a long-term blueprint for the city’s fiscal future.

“The economic study will provide a deeper, wider and broader look at raising funds,” said roundtable and Chamber of Commerce member Mary Lou Blackwood.

With the grant, no additional money from the city’s general fund would be needed for the study.

A Business License Program

A subcommittee of the roundtable is studying whether to recommend that the city adopt a business license program. The subcommittee plans to recommend, at the very least, that the city take over the licensing of those businesses in Malibu currently licensed by the county — restaurants, service stations and retailers who sell liquor. Mark Olson, subcommittee chairman and past president of the Chamber of Commerce, said previously that the subcommittee is leaning towards recommending that the city, on an annual basis, charge most businesses approximately $50 for a license.

Even the suggestion of such a regulatory program generated controversy among members of the roundtable and in the community in general.

The City Council has asked the roundtable to complete its study by the end of October.

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

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