Is there any hope for Malibu’s Civic Center
Of course, to call a scattered city hall and library, a user-unfriendly earthen roof of a water treatment plant. labeled a park, and four disconnected suburban shopping malls, soon to be six, a civic center is a misnomer. It is frankly a mess.
And what it says about the city’s planning efforts and political acumen to date is less flattering.
It is indeed an embarrassing screw up, big time in a little city flaunting its singular natural beauty, and so I declare in my latest commentary for KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites.
Let’s just label it municipal mismanagement, and not the most meritorious item on the resumes of departing city manager Jim Thorsen and soon to be termed out council members.
This is not to say they haven’t learned from their mistakes, and from the message sent to them by 60 per cent of the citizenry in the recent city referendums, whatever the legal fate of Measure R that wrenched from them the power to approve or disapprove select commercial developments.
To add a positive note, there is very much an opportunity for the city to correct some of these mistakes, and plan an appealing civic center that meets the true needs of Malibu and not the conceits of commercial interests.
That opportunity is in a fresh approach to what is known in government as a Specific Plan, and was the conclusion of a recent joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission and their entourages..
They had met ostensibly to review the status of the Civic Center Design Standards study, which a gaggle of select residents led by a conscientious consultant team have been pursuing for the last two years while the battle over Measures R and W raged.
However, in its quest for a quote “walk able coastal village with rural characteristics “unquote, the study exceeded the usual scope of design standards by including the need for a traffic and pedestrian circulation plan, mixed uses, and senior and local work force housing.
These are elements generally addressed in a Specific Plan, and call for land use changes that involve zoning amendments, consistent with the city’s general and coastal plans.
That in turn would most likely need voter approval, and in essence would lend residents actually broader and more positive powers than what they had sought in Measure R. That would be ironic.
It also would be a triumph of hope over experience, the city having failed in several past attempts at crafting specific plans.
Nevertheless, the Council and Commission were enthusiastic that the city moves toward drafting the plan, but were not sure how to do it.
Noted was the problem how the general public can be more involved, and in turn become the needed advocates for a new plan, especially in light of its distrust of the city stemming from the battles to date over the civic center.
The poor turnout for the joint meeting was not encouraging. The city’s lack of transparency and outreach has not helped.
No motion was considered, as the staff was directed to somehow facilitate the study needed for a specific plan, preferably with resident participation.
The well compensated consultant team seemed enthused. It remains to be seen if residents will be.