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Pugh Leaves Planning Commission  

By Gene Williams
Lookout Staff

May 20, 2011 -- In a surprise announcement during Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Gwynne Pugh said he has left the seven-member appointed body to pursue work as a paid consultant to the City.

The announcement came early Tuesday evening, as Pugh addressed his one-time fellow commissioners from the council chambers floor.

“It is a little odd to find myself on this side of the dais,” Pugh said.

“I am on this side because I applied for a Request for Qualifications to the city,” Pugh explained, “and in discussions with the city attorney and the city manager’s office, they determined that this was a conflict of interest.

“And consequently, and with regret, I am no longer a planning commissioner,” he said.

Pugh didn’t realize he would be asked to step down when he applied to the City for consulting work, he told the Lookout Wednesday.

A well-known local architect and engineer who served on the commission since 2004, Pugh said he applied to be put on an “on call list” of professionals whose services would be available to the City as needed.

Although the application does not guarantee that he will actually get any City work, the message from the City manager’s office was clear: he can’t be considered for work and serve on the commission at the same time.

“They gave me the choice of one or the other,” Pugh told the Lookout.

Pugh said he was surprised by the finding, noting that “historically” there have been numerous commissioners and councilmembers whose professional lives have intersected with City business. When business comes before the council or commission in which there could be a conflict of interest, they simply recuse themselves, Pugh said.

Perhaps the City has decided to draw a stricter line in response to fall out from recent controversies in other municipalities, such as Bell, Pugh said.

If that’s the case, “some of the most qualified people to serve on these boards and commissions [in Santa Monica]……may be excluded,” Pugh told The Lookout.

The Lookout’s calls to the city manager’s office for comment were not returned as of press time.

Speaking to the commission Tuesday, Pugh described his seven-year tenure as “a very interesting time in the city” and mentioned the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) update completed in 2010 and a number of large construction projects presently moving forward.

“I’ve learned much from my fellow commissioners, and from the [City] staff who have been very informative, and most of all from the community,” Pugh said.

Commission chair Jim Ries thanked Pugh for his service and said the LUCE is “a better document” because of his contributions to it.

The commissioners and others in the council chambers gave Pugh a round of applause before moving on to the evening’s business.

An architect and engineer since 1971, Pugh has designed projects for the Getty Conservation Institute, Santa Monica College, the City of Santa Monica and the cities of Carson, Upland, Palmdale and Los Angeles, among other entities.

His projects in Santa Monica include Colorado Court, Step Up on Fifth and improvements to City Parking Structures 7 and 8 adjacent to Santa Monica Place.

An expert in sustainable design, Pugh is a LEED Accredited Professional and a recipient of 50 local, state and national American Institute of Architects awards.



“It is a little odd to find myself on this side of the dais. I am on this side because I applied for a Request for Qualifications to the city.” Gwynne Pugh

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