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New Placer planning panel criteria sparks Board of Supervisors clash

4-1 vote allows city representatives as at large commission member
By: Gus Thomson, Auburn Journal
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The question of where one of Placer County Planning Commission’s two at large members should live has been settled – but not before supervisors supporting opening the post to city residents faced criticism over the change.

Until Tuesday, the at-large commissioner for the county west of the Sierra crest was required to live in the unincorporated area of Placer County – not in the cities of Lincoln, Colfax, Rocklin, Roseville and Auburn, or the town of Loomis.

On a 4-1 vote, supervisors decided to change the requirement, allowing all Placer County residents west of the crest to apply.

Wayne Nader, an Auburn resident who has served on the county’s charter-review commission, spoke against the move at Tuesday’s board meeting. He said that he had initially applied for the post but then removed his name after learning of the attempt to change ordinance language establishing criteria for the at-large selection.

“I haven’t heard a compelling reason why this amendment should be made so that those in cities can make decisions in unincorporated areas,” Nader said.

But supervisors Jennifer Montgomery, Kirk Uhler, Jack Duran and Robert Weygandt dug in on  an ordinance amendment they had already initially OK’d at a meeting in Tahoe last month.

“I really don’t understand what the self-interest is,” Roseville-area Supervisor Jack Duran said. “If  anything, this shows how progressive we are in our thought processes. As supervisors we vote on issues throughout the county and I value input no matter where it comes from.”

 The Planning Commission, which makes decisions on developments and planning issues, is composed of seven members. Supervisors nominate one planning commissioner from each of their five districts. At large positions are chosen by the board as a whole from the eastern and western slopes of the Sierra in Placer County.

About 65 percent of the county’s population lives within city or town boundaries.

Nader said that a selection from a city would have bias toward those jurisdictions. The change had more to do with “political interests than looking out for constituents,” he said.

“You have the trust of the voters when you do things like this and it erodes that trust,” Nader said.

Supervisor Jim Holmes, whose district takes in parts of cities such as Rocklin but also a swath of unincorporated areas in the mid-county region, was the lone vote against the amendment.

Holmes said that nine candidates from unincorporated areas had already stepped up to be selected for the planning post and the list included several well-qualified “outstanding” people, including a banker, architect and former school superintendent.

Candidates as of Wednesday were: Roy West, David Karleskint, Alan Shuttleworth, Richard Lewis, Monique Margaux, Noe Fierros, Gerald Brentnall, Don Belden and Christine Turner.

“Are none of these qualified?” Holmes asked.

“Is that a rhetorical question?” Montgomery rejoindered.

Montgomery said that the debate Tuesday wasn’t about whether the candidates are qualified.

“It’s ‘What is the pool and whether broadening it is a bad choice?’” she said.

Nader’s comments were bolstered by Penryn’s Muriel Davis, who said she objected to having the issue initially brought up as a consent item on a Tahoe meeting’s agenda rather than at Auburn. She asked supervisors to have more discussions at the municipal advisory commission level before bringing it up before the board in Auburn.