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City Hall Turns to Students for MV2040

As city officials ramp up outreach efforts on the update of its General Plan, they’re making a concerted effort to connect with young people.

As city of Mill Valley officials ramp up their community outreach to get residents actively involved in the , it’s safe to say that there’s one family they don’t have worry about: the Bermans.

Mill Valley Councilman Andy Berman volunteered to chair the . But given the update’s moniker of Mill Valley 2040, the city has made it a priority to connect with the young people who will be most impacted by the decisions made in the General Plan update.

To that end, Berman has rallied two of his daughters to work within their school communities to lead efforts to provide input to the city.

“This whole thing is about broad community engagement, and it is today’s students who are going to enjoy Mill Valley in 2040,” Berman said. “We would be really remiss if we didn’t reach out to them.”

Mill Valley Senior Planner Danielle Staude is leading the school outreach, working with student leaders to find creative ways to solicit input.

Berman’s daughter Morrissa, a junior at , is a member of its Interact Club, a community service organization that works with local organizations like the Rotary Club on a variety of projects. They organized a Valentine’s Day fundraiser for a school in Zimbabwe last month.

Morrissa Berman said it makes perfect sense for students her age to engage with the city on the General Plan update.

“We’re hopefully going to be living here in 30 years and we want to make sure Mill Valley is as we’d want it to be,” she said. “We need to have a say. Students have good ideas that might not be heard otherwise.”

Berman and her fellow club members will be giving tutorial presentations about the city’s update during homeroom throughout Tam over the next several weeks. She said the fact that the city to engage with the community makes its easy.

“It’s the perfect way to get students involved – we’ve grown up with the Internet,” she said.

Morrissa Berman’s younger sister Samantha serves on the Student Council at , and is leading that school’s efforts to get her classmates to weigh in. Old Mill Principal Kandee Adams said it hasn’t been determined exactly what format that input might take, but that the Student Council is currently working with students to garner a host of ideas.

Efforts to work with students at all of Mill Valley’s schools are in their early stages. Councilwoman Stephanie Moulton-Peters, a longtime leader of local Safe Routes to Schools’ efforts’ to encourage children to walk and ride their bikes to school, plans to work with students on related ideas for the General Plan update.

“This is our next generation, so it stands to reason that we’d engage with them,” Moulton-Peters said.

Once the ideas from the students are compiled, they’ll be shared with the as part of their review of issues and development of policies, Staude said.

Berman said he’s confident that the city’s student outreach will bear fruit. He cited the work of to illustrate their own ideas for the .

”I know it sounds crazy but that little project we did was a huge hit – and there were some great ideas in there,” Berman said.

Andy Berman said that while the need for outreach is obvious, it also serves a crucial goal: keeping the process moving without having any groups feel excluded.

“The city needs to have buy-in from all its customers,” he said. “We don’t want to get off guard by people saying, ‘you didn’t consider us’ or ‘you failed to get a critical voice into the process.’ We need to hear from everyone.”

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