Public policy decisions require effective community outreach and an honest consideration of the community input. The Mill Valley City Council is committed to this process. We have spent almost as much time designing the community participation process for our initiatives as we have in arriving at a decision. If the community participation process for arriving at a decision is flawed, the ultimate decision may not be accepted. But when we encourage and consider community input, our eventual public policy decision has not only been better but has been more acceptable, even to those who disagree with the decision.
Two of the council's nine core values are aimed at citizen participation. We seek a balanced, inclusive and open approach to policy-making and strive for citizen participation that promotes open communication and mutual respect. Each year the council reviews, revises and adopts a set of priorities based on our core values. For the past two years, one of our priorities has been aimed at the effective two-way communication between city staff/council and the community. The goal is ease and opportunity for such access, and its implementation includes an enhanced city website, e-notification process, newsletters, and community and neighborhood association meetings. We are gratified that city staff has fully cooperated and embraced our core values and priorities.
In June 2008, we started the twice a month "Councilmember in Depot Plaza" as an informal and perhaps more conducive way for community members to meet and talk with a councilmember on any issues that come to mind. It also demonstrates our commitment to go out of our way to listen.
Taking that commitment even further, we are happy to announce that as part of our 2010-2011 budget, the council has appropriated funds to webcast our council and planning commission meetings. This will allow our community to stay informed about important issues, even if they can't make it to our sometimes extremely long evening meetings. It is unfortunate to see a community member take time from their evening to be present to share their ideas only to have to leave later in the evening for family or other commitments without having had an opportunity to speak. Once webcasting is up and running, we are also considering the possibility of allowing limited e-mail submissions during the meetings to allow participation, even if people can't come to or stay at the meeting.
We have very sharp, insightful and creative community members. Our decisions with regard to Marin Clean Energy, the Miller Avenue Streetscape task forces, Green Building Ordinance, curbside composting, our support of local businesses and a bevy of other issues have been enhanced by input from our community. We are representatives of our community and we can't do this alone. We encourage communication, whether in person, e-mail or by telephone. Listening to the community is an important part of our job. Feel free to contact us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org