City Launches Civic Center Task Force

Task force member Jefferson Wagner examines a map of Malibu during Friday’s event. 

Members of the city’s newly formed Civic Center Design Standards task force joined with more than 20 local residents on a walking tour of the Malibu Civic Center on Friday to gain insight on potential design ideas for future look and feel of the area. 

The tour kicked off a two-day open house at City Hall for interested stakeholders. But as the group toured the area, residents started questioning if designs were even necessary as new City Council guidelines limiting future building developments had been recently approved through the Formula Retail Ordinance. 

Under the Formula Retail Ordinance, which applies only to business in the Civic Center area, establishments must stay at 3,500 square feet with a 45 percent cap of new formula retail establishments per shopping center. 

Residents questioned if any of the Civic Center currently even met the new guidelines for them to have a vision of the future. 

“Do we need an architectural review board, too?” task force member and former Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner asked. 

“I think we should refer to uses that are proposed,” tour guide and project associate Ryan Banuelos said. “We’re not really here to focus on what the stores are, but what the design is like.” 

Leaders had to frequently remind attendees they were there to focus on design and not uses for the area. They are tasked with strictly adhering to aesthetics, according to officials. 

Still, whispers could be heard throughout the walk about the upcoming election and widely debated Measure R, with some residents concerned about the timing of the open house event, just weeks before the election. 

“This is needed whether Measure R passes or not,” Planning Director Joyce Parker- Bozylinski said. “This is about the look and feel of Malibu. If Measure R passes, we will still need design guidelines.“ 

Suggestions for building materials and colors also passed between locals as they crossed through Legacy Park. 

“Why would you want a certain style?” task member Edward Niles asked. “Every one out here is an individual.” 

The newly launched task force also planned a two-day open house on Friday and Saturday for community members to gather and share their visions for new center development standards. 

City planning staff will work closely together with the task force and city-contracted MIG consultants to help guide the future vision into drafting design standards. 

The standards will be compiled for review by the Planning Commission and then to a vote by the City Council. 

“They’re meeting three times to discuss the vision based on what we hear from this two-day workshop,” MIG Consultants Principal Laura Stetson said. “The city wants to hear from the public, that’s why we hold these workshops.” 

A walking tour guide pamphlet was passed out to each participant to record impressions of the Civic Center, with questions like “How can new development reflect the Malibu character?” and “What kind of open space and architecture should be promoted in the Civic Center District?” 

Along the tour around Malibu Civic Center, Banuelos asked the group of residents to “make sure you reflect on anything you see.” 

“How do pedestrian pathways flow throughout … how do they cross through parking lots? These are things to think about,” Banuelos said. 

At the open house, vision boards displayed topics and pictures for residents to further consider for the future look of Malibu’s Civic Center. 

“What is working, what is not?” Stetson asked. “We’re going to ask questions about the character of Malibu. What defines Malibu? What makes Malibu? There are a lot of things that define the character here.” 

Interactive boards helped the community members choose dif ferent forms of appealing landscaping, open spaces and connectivity that best represented the next step for the Civic Center. 

After guests studied the boards and their themes, online surveys were available to gather answers and opinions for the task force to review in an upcoming November meeting. 

The task force will then meet a few more times to solidify a formal booklet of Design Standards to present to the Planning Commission sometime in June. 

“What’s wonderful about a public workshop is you’re here to hear anything,” Stetson said. “There are no bad ideas. No preconceptions at all. The best that we can do is spark the discussion.” 

For a full list of task force members, or to learn more about the Malibu Civic Center Design Standards Project, visit