This month marks a milestone in the Mill Valley General Plan update as members of the three working groups have completed their recommendations, and handed them over to the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) for the next step in the 18-month process.
“The hardest part has been done, which was generating ideas for goals, policies and programs for the future,” said Danielle Staude, Mill Valley Senior Planner.
Now, GPAC plans to package it all together and create a draft plan, which it will then pass on to the Planning Commission for a public hearing, and finally the City Council for formal adoption.
“This is the biggest thing the City Council is doing right now,” said City Councilman and GPAC Chairman Andy Berman, who will take on the role of mayor next month. “No doubt about it.”
He said GPAC will most likely create a subcommittee to help create the draft plan.
“We’d like to get it to the Planning Commission by March,” Staude said.
Since the General Plan process began around May, the 11-member working groups on Land Use and Mobility, Natural Environment and Community Vitality - which also includes a nine-member Arts and Culture Subcommittee - met about a dozen times before presenting their recommendations to GPAC.
The Advisory Committee reviewed Natural Environment and Community Vitality during a public hearing on Nov. 8 (watch the live broadcast) and will meet on Dec. 5 to discuss Land Use and Mobility. The process has been going well so far, Berman said, and he believes the city is on target to adopt it by July 2013.
“I’m optimistic because there’s a spirit of community and collaboration, and that’s what you need to get this done,” he said. “A little bit of compromise helps too."
The required undertaking establishes a road map for development in Mill Valley through 2040. Although the “community values” on which the last 1989 General Plan were drafted haven’t changed much, the city, and the world, certainly has.
Berman said the plan is about “creating a strong sense of community around basic values, and identifying newer issues that are on the horizon.”
Public health and sustainability, for instance, have taken on new meaning in light of climate change and global warming. As homes in Marin become more and more expensive, the need for affordable housing is fresh on peoples’ minds. And in the light of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and earthquakes of our own, emergency preparedness – along with disaster recovery – is a clear priority.
“They’re not new issues, but they’re more pronounced,” Berman said. “The world has seen a lot since 1989.”
Throughout the process, the city has received input and feedback from many people representing various interests in town - from high school students to the Mill Valley Public Library, to Parks and Recreation and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, Staude said.
Establishing working groups has also created “an inclusive and broach approach,” Berman said.
“We immediately brought in more than 30 people to help us think through the issues, and included a lot of opportunities for public input,” he said.
And with the city about one-third of the way along in the process, it’s far from finished.
“There’s still a lot of opportunity for public comment,” Staude said.
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