The city council this week removed two planning and zoning commissioners and forced the resignation of a third in a purge of the body that sits squarely in the middle of development debates.
Without public discussion, city council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to remove commissioners Ruben Becerra and Steve Cline after weeks of behind-the-scenes maneuvering at City Hall. The council was also moving toward removing commission chair Fred Terry but he resigned last week to run for city council in a race from which his only opponent, Saul Gonzales, has since withdrawn.
The council at least three times in recent months discussed the issues behind closed doors, invoking an exception to state open meetings law that allows judicial and quasi-judicial matters to be considered in executive session. The planning and zoning commission is considered quasi-judicial because its members decide the legal status of conditional use permits and other elements of city ordinances, City Attorney Michael Cosentino said.
Becerra did not meet attendance requirements, Cosentino said, and Cline did not respond to a questionnaire evaluating planning commissioners’ qualifications to hold the position. Cosentino would not discuss Terry’s status in the qualification evaluation process except that he was not a subject of the city council’s vote to remove the commission members.
Becerra did not return a message left at his business and Cline could not be reached for comment. Terry twice agreed this week to speak to The Mercury about the commissioners’ removal, but did not return phone calls for comment. Under the city charter, planning and zoning commissioners must own real property within the city limits for no fewer three years. The commission’s own rules establish attendance requirements.
Also on Tuesday, the city council appointed three citizens to fill the planning and zoning commission vacancies: Cecil Pounds, Allen Shy and Jim Stark.Email | Print