(File photo)

Planning Commission may at last get reinforcement.

After months of delays, City Council is scheduled to pick the new commissioner on Tuesday.

When Sue Himmelrich won a council seat in November she left a vacant chair on the seven-seat commission.

Council typically abides by the unwritten rule that all seven of its members be present before making an appointment. Of late, one or two council members have been absent from meetings. This week’s meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday for lack of a quorum.

There’s been a flurry of new applicants in recent months and several residents have rescinded their applications.

Ten residents are currently in the running and nine of them filed after Himmelrich was elected.

Laurence Eubank, chair of the Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coalition, resident Peter Taffae, and Los Angeles Regional Planning History Group Boardmember Mark Herwick all applied on Jan. 20.

Taffae, an entrepreneur, framed himself as a leader who’s willing to listen to others’ ideas, in his application.

Eubank expressed concerns about traffic and parking.

“While increased height and density will generate short-term profits (if not windfalls), unbridled growth — anything more than slow-growth — will make for miserable (and angrier) residents,” he said in his application.

Mario Fonda-Bonardi, an architect, filed earlier in January. He sometimes contributes to this newspaper as a member of the SMa.r.t. architects group.

“Sustainability means living within our means in regard to water, transportation, population, education facilities, open space, solar access etc.,” he said in his application.

Amy Aukstikalnis, chair of Northeast Neighbors, is a favorite among several neighborhood groups.

Her goal, she said in her application, is “to encourage the appropriate use of land throughout our city; sensibly manage development, reduce congestion, increase mobility, promote adaptive reuse, expand open/park space, reduce our jobs/housing imbalance by creating housing opportunities near transit-rich areas while still preserving the existing character of our city, and preserving and enhancing the quality of life in our residential neighborhoods.”

Jodi Summers, a real estate broker and member of the Civic Working Group — which is working to guide the future of the Civic Auditorium — filed an application on New Year’s Day.

Carter Rubin also rang in the New Year with an application to the commission. Rubin has been a member of the Housing Commission since May and is an advisory board member of Santa Monica Next, an advocacy group focused on the future of Santa Monica.

“My overarching goal is to ensure that Santa Monica continues to be a community where residents can grow and thrive from childhood through family formation to our golden years,” he said.

Elizabeth Anne Tooke, a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, applied in late November.

Nina Fresco, who is the current chair of the Civic Working Group and served as a member of the Landmarks Commission for over a decade, applied for the vacant seat just a week after Himmelrich’s election to council.

“On a property by property level decisions must carefully balance the needs of those personally effected with the overall goals of the City that protect the needs of everyone else collectively,” she said. “The success of the Planning Commissions handling of that balance will also determine how well we work with and contribute to the Los Angeles area and the State of California.”

Renee Weitzer, chief planning deputy in Los Angeles, applied for the position in 2012 and reapplied a year ago.

As has been the case in the past, if council members are absent it’s possible they will vote to once again delay the appointment to the seat that ends in June.


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