View Protection Task Force Now Has Special Consultant
• Expert Has Experience Mediating View Disputes
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
The View Protection Task Force Committee met last week, and it formed a subcommittee to work closely with the consultant hired to help facilitate the group.
“It was an amicable meeting,” said Chair Sam Hall Kaplan, who made the comment in reference to a published report and apparent city council concern that a previous panel meeting was “vicious and contentious.” “There was no contention,” Kaplan insisted.
Committee members were introduced to Coleen Berg, a consultant hired by the city at the direction of the council members to help facilitate the meetings and provide direction.
Berg has worked as a view restoration mediator for the city of Rancho Palos Verdes for several years.
The task force agreed to form a subcommittee to work with the consultant in formulating the salient issues for any view protection law.
Because of a scheduling conflict, the committee met in the City Hall conference room and the meeting was not videotaped.
Videotaping was the second of two conditions imposed on the panel by the council so that all the meetings could be broadcast for public viewing.
The committee also heard from the public, with some members expressing concerns about privacy if trees or shrubs are removed to re-establish blocked views.
However, other public testimony reminded the panel that an advisory measure, reflecting the wishes of 67 percent of Malibu voters, indicated that a view protection ordinance should be a priority for the city, and discussed how ocean and mountain views have been compromised by the growth of vegetation.
A dispute resolution mediator by training, Berg is described by Rancho Palos Verdes city officials as being successful in helping parties negotiate private agreements. Most view restoration cases consequently have been resolved at the mediation level. A municipal staff report states that only two of the 18 view restoration cases filed since 2005 had to be formally resolved by the planning commission representing about a 90 percent success rate.
The city had previously used volunteer mediators, but contended the drop of their success rate warranted hiring a paid professional.