In responding to an inquiry from The Malibu Times, the city released the following statement: “On October 18, Community Services Department Director Jesse Bobbett announced his resignation effective November 4. He has worked for the City as Community Services Director for six years. The City thanks him for his service to Malibu and wishes him well.”
In a phone interview, Bobbett said that in the six years he spent in this position, the department was continuously changing and evolving. Not long after he started work here, the city got the 530 acres at Charmlee Wilderness Park back from Joe Edmiston. Then the city’s arts programming started to really take off, he said, with the expansion of quarterly art exhibits at City Hall, a poet laureate program, and sculptures in Legacy Park.
“Arts programming has really expanded over the past six years, and our staff has worked hard to implement those programs without increasing the number of staff in our Department,” he said. “The City will definitely need to look at hiring additional staff to keep these programs moving forward and growing into the future.”
When asked about his biggest accomplishments since being hired on Nov. 21, 2016, the first thing that came to mind for Bobbett was building the temporary skate park at Bluffs Park on the expanded footprint of donated land, and the fact that the permanent skate park is now in the design stage.
“It was the first dedicated skate space available to our residents in 11 years, so and it was great to play a small role in making that project a reality,” he recalled.
Another big project was successfully initiating the Legacy Park Rehabilitation Project, which studied the native plant life and poor growing conditions there.
“We assessed the soil and water conditions throughout the park, and then worked with a consultant to select and install native plants that could thrive in the salty marine environment,” Bobbett said. “It has been exciting to see native plants and vegetation thrive in the park after struggling for many years.”
There’s currently 10 staff members in the Community Services Department (including Bobbett), and he was proud to see many of his employees develop during his tenure. Additionally, he enjoyed working with the various departments on projects, promoting employee engagement, and working to promote health and wellness at City Hall.
The positon was not without its frustrations and setbacks, though. Just like everyone and everything else in Malibu, the job was severely affected by the Woolsey Fire of 2018, followed by over two years of the pandemic.
Charmlee Park was heavily damaged by the fire, and was closed to the public until 2020. During that time, the trails became heavily overgrown and the city was able to find grant funding to remediate them, Bobbett explained.
The double whammy also slowed everything else down.
“It was frustrating not getting some of the big ticket items farther along in the process, like the public outreach process regarding the utilization of the city’s vacant properties,” he said. “And there’s the ongoing challenge of having several parks spread across 21 miles of coastline, as well as the challenge of managing residents’ concerns and commissions, but that’s just part of the job.”
Bobbett decided to resign in order to “take a break from public sector work, which is hard to say after 22 years of public sector service.” He’ll be getting married in a few weeks and going on a honeymoon to Tahiti. When he comes back, “It’s time to try something different,” he says.
He ended by expressing how much he enjoyed working with his fellow city staffers.
“The management team and staff here are really great — the best team I’ve been a part of,” he emphasized. “You hear a lot of things during City Council and Commission meetings about our staff, but they really are an amazing group of dedicated professionals doing the best they can with the resources available.”
At the time, Jesse began working at Malibu City Hall, he had over 14 years’ experience in increasingly responsible positions at parks and recreation departments at nearby coastal cities — El Segundo and Manhattan Beach. He’s a native of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in sports and fitness management from the University of Kansas.
The Community Services Department (formerly known as Parks and Recreation) provides administrative support to the Malibu Arts Commission, the Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission, and the Parks and Recreation Commission. It’s in charge of a wide range of community programs beyond those already mentioned: four city parks, the Senior Center, playgrounds, Library Speaker Series, Cinemalibu, classes, community pool, hikes, day camp, Earth Friendly Management, and the list goes on.