Tue09162014

News

New faces coming to city commissions

A handful of new faces are eager to serve on Los Altos’ volunteer commissions.

The Los Altos City Council was expected to appoint new commissioners to fill at least five vacancies Feb. 14 – one on the Environmental Commission and two each on the Public Arts and Financial commissions.

A final decision on city council appointees was not available by the Town Crier’s Monday press deadline.

The appointees, who must be Los Altos residents, will be seated on their respective commissions in March, according to Mayor Val Carpenter.

The anticipated appointments come on the heels of 14 applicant interviews by the city council Feb. 6. Carpenter said she was impressed with this year’s field of applicants.

“I’m always struck by how heartwarming it is to see people step forward,” she said. “We couldn’t do what we do as a city without our volunteers, particularly our commissioners.”

And while some commissions will have new blood, one apparently won’t. Carpenter said the council is expected to reappoint Jon Baer to his seat on the Planning Commission. Baer is currently ending his present term as chairman of that commission. Two of the four vacant seats on the Financial Commission are being considered for reappointment.

Carpenter also noted that there is still some uncertainty about the two open seats on the city’s Traffic Commission. She and Councilman Ron Packard, who formed a subcommittee in November to explore the possible merging of the Planning and Traffic commissions, are in the process of drafting a final recommendation for the city council.

With that in mind, she said, the city council is not expected to appoint new commissioners to the Traffic Commission until the merger issue is resolved. Carpenter said she hopes to conclude the matter quickly and expects to forward a recommendation to the council sometime in March.

“It doesn’t serve anybody to have this uncertainty,” she said. “Are those commissions going to continue in their current form or some modified form? We really need to come to some resolution on that as a subcommittee and as a council.”

Some smaller changes, however, are already in the works.

In January, the council opted to dissolve the city’s Board of Adjustments, redirecting that body’s responsibilities of reviewing variances and land-use regulations to the Planning Commission and the Architecture and Site Review (A&S) Committee.

The primary roles of both those bodies were further altered, leaving A&S to review all one- and two-story single-family residential design applications. The Planning Commission’s role was modified to include review of larger projects in the city, such as multifamily residential and commercial projects.

Before those changes – and those that could still be made – take effect, the city must amend its ordinances related to commission duties, Carpenter said, a process that could take several months but will likely be completed before the end of the year.

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