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Seat on Santa Monica Planning Commission Could Be Up for Grabs  

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 4, 2017 -- Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Amy Nancy Anderson’s term of office ends in June, potentially spurring a race for the City’s most powerful board.

Anderson, who is the commission’s chair, was first appointed by the City Council to a partial term in 2012 and subsequently re-appointed to a full four-year term in 2013. She “terms out” on June 30 under City law.

Most City commissions and similar panels restrict their members to serving two consecutive terms, said City Clerk Denise Anderson Warren.

A member can, however, request that the council vote to allow another term, she said.

The City’s website does not include such a request from the commissioner at this point, although there is still time for it to be made.

Re-appointment to another term would require a super majority vote of the council instead of a normal majority of four votes, Anderson Warren said.

One applicant has formally applied so far: Laurence E. Eubank, who lists himself on the City’s website as a member of the Bergamot Advisory Committee, the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition and the Transparency Project, a local City Hall watchdog group.

Although the planning commission often has only the power to make recommendations to the council, it is closely watched by the factions involved in the city’s ongoing battle over development.

But the commission also could soon exercise more power over large development projects. Until recently, larger developments went to the city council for final approval via “development agreements.”

As DAs became more frequent, they also came under fire as being too lenient toward developers. Now, more such projects will likely be approved by the commission instead.

The shift has upset the slow-growth community, which did not intend for its criticism of DAs to be dealt with in that manner.

Appointments to the commission have had a contentious past.

The appointment of former Councilmember Kelly Olsen in 1999 solidified a slow-growth ideology on the commission that would eventually lead to a confrontation with then planning director Suzanne Frick. Olsen was not appointed to a second term ("Commission Laments Olsen's "Loss;" Frick Defends Department," July 14, 2003).

When Anderson, an urban planner, was initially appointed to the commission in January 2012, it marked the first time in two decades the panel didn't include an architect. ("Santa Monica Gets New Planning Commissioner," January 12, 2012).

Her appointment came after the City began enforcing a state law that prohibits commissioners from submitting proposals for projects to the City.

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