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City Hall Kicks Off ‘Mill Valley 2040' with MindMixer

Outreach campaign as part of General Plan update starts with a “virtual town hall” website to seek community input.

What should Mill Valley look like in 28 years?

That’s the question city officials are posing this week as they kick off an outreach campaign as part of the . The guiding document for land use, transportation, infrastructure and development throughout the city hasn’t been updated since 1989, and the city hasn't updated its affordable housing element since 2003, despite state law requirements that it do so every five years.

The City Council last month and Vice Mayor Andy Berman was appointed to a General Plan advisory committee, which also includes Planning Commissioner Steve Geiszler and seven at-large members yet to be chosen.

The first phase of the effort focuses on outreach, and City Hall inked a deal with MindMixer, an Omaha, Neb., startup company that creates “virtual town hall” websites to engage communities on specific issues.

The ‘Mill Valley 2040’ website created by MindMixer is organized around four topics, the first of which is dubbed “How would you define Mill Valley.” The website lists seven “Ideas” and asks users, who must create an account on the site to use it, to “second” the idea and/or comment on it.

The “Ideas” dovetail with the identified in the 1989 update. They include: accommodating affordable housing; preserving and enhancing creeks and other natural areas; maintaining healthy and attractive commercial areas, preserving the quality and diversity of neighborhoods, protecting people and buildings from natural hazards, maintaining the scenic quality of the bay front; and minimizing congestion and encouraging use of public transit.

City officials expect to create a trio of working groups focusing on the natural environment, community vitality, land use and transportation, with up to 10 community members appointed to each based on their interest and experience. The council directed city staff to ensure that applicants state their affiliations up front when they apply.

The timeline calls for the advisory committee to start reviewing the ideas submitted through MindMixer and from the working groups in May. The review and adoption phase of the General Plan update is expected to begin in early 2013.

Applications for the advisory committee and working groups can be found here.

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