Santa Monica City Hall's lobby. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

If all members of City Council are present at Tuesday’s meeting, perhaps we’ll see the cogs turning on Santa Monica’s political machine.

Aside from the proposed $1.1-billion biennial budget and final adoption of the Zoning Ordinance update, council will consider 37 appointments to city boards and commissions.

Council has an unwritten rule that significant appointments are made only when all seven members of the body are present, so possible that the appointments might be delayed, but given the weight of the budget and the Zoning Ordinance update, a full house is all the more likely.

Some appointments are scheduled for boards you might not have known existed, like the Urban Forest Task Force, which needs seven new members, but the biggest prizes are arguably the three seats up for grabs on the Planning Commission.

Council recently appointed Carter Rubin to fill the three-month vacancy left when Sue Himmelrich made the jump from the commission to council.

Commissioners Jim Ries and Jason Parry are also at the ends of their terms.

Ries is the longest current serving member of the commission, having been appointed back in 2007. Parry was appointed in 2009.

Of late, the Planning Commission majority and council majority, which has the final say, have differed on certain key issues.

During the debate over the Zoning Ordinance, for instance, the commission recommended that council keep a set of activity centers, which would have allowed taller and denser development around planned transit hubs, while council repeatedly stripped them from the document.

Four of the seven current council members outright opposed the most recent significant development, the Hines project.

Four of the seven current Planning Commissioners, including Ries and Parry, supported it.

Nina Fresco, Mario Fonda-Bonardi and Laurence Eubank, whosehats all remain in the ring during this upcoming appointment process, were nominated before Rubin was appointed in March.

Since then, John Berley, a Landmarks Commission member, has submitted an application for the role, as has Rebecca Lantry, a member of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The Planning Commission seats are coveted not only because it is the appointed body that most frequently makes recommendations to council, but also because the commission has become a springboard to council itself.

A majority of the current members of council served previously on the Planning Commission. Last year, three of the seven members of the commission ran for a council seat.

The terms of two members of the Airport Commission are expiring, including that of Chair David Goddard, who has argued fiercely at times in opposition to the Santa Monica Airport.

One term on the five-member Architectural Review Board is expiring. Therese Kelly has served on the board since November.

In addition, Kevin Daly stepped down from the board earlier this year, leaving an additional vacancy for council to fill. Daly’s term expires in a year.

The ARB’s rulings often precede the Planning Commission’s in the same way that Planning Commission’s decisions precede council’s.

dave@www.smdp.com

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