By Jorge Casuso
July 10 -- Neighborhood activists are closely watching
the pending appointment of three members to the powerful Planning
Commission at a time when the future development of the beachside
city is being charted.
While many observers expect Terry O’Day to be reappointed
to a second term, there is much speculation about Commissioner
Darrell Clarke’s unusual bid for a third four-year term.
Clarke likely faces an uphill battle, needing five City Council
votes and facing stiff competition from a field of qualified
candidates. But the sitting commissioner, who is widely viewed
as a slow growth advocate representing residents’ interests,
feels he can contribute his expertise during a critical time
for the city.
“It seems important to offer to continue,” said
Clarke. “After eight years, they know what I’m
One of the major projects Clarke would like to see through
is the update of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE)
that will shape the face of Santa Monica for years to come.
The other is the effort to bring light rail to the beachside
“The next year is really important,” said Clarke,
who is the long-time co-chair of Friends of the Expo Line.
After more than three years gathering public input, City
officials are preparing to roll up their sleeves and iron
out the details that will comprise the first update of the
City’s General Plan in a quarter century, Clarke said.
“We will begin to decide what goes where in the city,”
said Clarke, who has been involved in the process since its
inception. “That’s the real meat.”
The next year will also be “pivotal for the Expo Line,”
Clarke said, noting that City officials will decide where
to place the terminals and what development will rise around
“There’s going to be a lot of detailed planning
in Santa Monica,” Clarke said.
So far, at least two council members have privately said
they will not vote to grant Clarke a third term, and two others
are unlikely to back his bid.
That would leave two open seats and a field of strong candidates
that includes two members of Santa Monica’s Sustainable
City Task Force -- Dennis Woods and Jim Ries --and Gleam Davis,
a well-known education activist who has run for the School
Board and City Council.
A professional urban and transportation planner for 18 years,
Woods plans to focus on integrating transportation and land
use, promote bicycling and walking and seek innovative approaches
to parking, according to his application. He also said he
plans to promote sustainable goals and protect open space.
“I have prepared Zoning Ordinances, rewritten sections
of General Plans, worked to have the First Westside Mobility
Plan and prepared the first comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian
mobility plan for a municipal government on the Westside,”
wrote Woods, who was chair of the Borderline Neighborhood
Improvement Group for five years.
Ries, a land use consultant who chairs of the Sustainable
City Task Force, also has been involved in neighborhood efforts,
serving on the board of the Pico Neighborhood Association,
as well as on the Home Ownership Study Group sponsored by
“I want to work towards an aesthetically interesting,
vital and sustainable City offering recreational, employment,
educational and living opportunities to the City’s diverse
population,” wrote Ries, who has a Masters Degree in
Urban Planning from the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban
Davis, who has focused most of her community efforts on education
and currently serves as co-chair of the School District’s
bond committee, seems to share many of Clarke’s goals.
“My goal would be to complete the current work on the
Land Use and Circulation Element and to preserve the diversity,
sustainability, and livability of our neighborhoods,”
Davis, an in-house counsel to AT&T, wrote on her application.
“I am interested in opportunities to expand parks and
other public open spaces and I would work to integrate planning
and public transportation policies,” she wrote.
Davis may have a leg up in her bid for appointment. A longtime
member of the powerful tenants group, Santa Monicans for Renters’
Rights, Davis’ appointment would guarantee that there
remain at least two women on the seven-member commission.
Another woman seeking a seat is Juleann Viktoria Bukovchik.
An internal auditor for the real estate industry, Bukovchik
sees “the need to integrate multiple facets of our city
as we forward-think the development and green expansion of
our hometown,” according to her application.
A volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Bukovchik, wants to
encourage sustainable projects that are diverse in design
and “meet the needs and exceed the desires of our community.”
Other applicants for the three open seats are:
- Robert Jay Kronovet, Real Estate Broker & Property
manager and the current Co-Commissioner/Treasure of the
Pico Improvement Organization. “My paramount goals
as a planning commissioner” are to meet the “need
for thoughtful growth that generates income for the city
and provides a quality environment,” wrote Kronovet,
who has run for City Council and rent Control Board.
- Elizabeth Champ, a retired real estate clerk and a volunteer
at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Saint John's Health
Center, whose goal is to “keep Santa Monica beautiful!”
- David Edward Goddard, the CFO of a $2.5B real estate investment
company, whose goal is “to insure that the residents'
interests of Santa Monica are adequately represented.”
Slow-growth activists see the council’s Planning Commission
appointments, which likely will take place when all seven
members are back on the dais next month, as crucial.
Clarke, along with Jay Johnson and Julie Lopez Dad, are the
only slow-growthers left from a commission that was widely
viewed as unfriendly to developers.
“Darrell has demonstrated a real independence,”
said former City Council member Kelly Olson, who chaired the
slow-growth commission five years ago. “He gives equal
weight to residents.
“I think it’s clear that the (current) commission
is sympathetic towards development and cuts slack for developers,”
Olsen said. “It’s been going that way, and that’s
what the City Council majority wants.
“If they don’t approve Darrell,” he said,
“that is a statement that they want to go in the direction
of approving development.”
But Commissioner Johnson says the makeup of the seven-member
board is not so clear cut.
“I think the slow-growth, no-growth, big-growth was
through with the Planning Commission a few years ago,”
said Johnson. “It’s rare that the board splits.”
Johnson said he supports Clarke’s reappointment.
“He has specific expertise on questions of transportation,”
Johnson said. “He’s very astute on architectural
questions and design questions. He has that sense of history.”