Appointing four new planning commissioners proved difficult for the San Juan Bautista City Council, as it rejected two of the five proposed members and erred in the appointment of one of the nominees at the council’s Jan. 24 regular meeting.
In a 4-1 vote, council members appointed David Medeiros and Jose Aranda and postponed a third appointment because of an error in notice.
The commission had one pre-existing open seat before the November election, that of former commissioner Mary Bains, who had been disqualified from office based on a residency requirement. The November 2022 completion of terms by commissioners Yolanda Delgado and David Medeiros, and the election of commissioner Jackie Morris-Lopez to the City Council, reduced the commission to just one member, Tony Correia, whose term will expire in December 2024. At least three members must be on the commission to establish a quorum and hold meetings.
Delgado and Medeiros applied to be reappointed, as did former City Council and planning commission member Dan DeVries. Residents Mishele NewKirk-Smith and Jose Aranda also applied. Mayor Leslie Jordan and councilmember E. J. Sabathia had been selected at the Dec. 20 City Council meeting as an ad hoc committee to screen applicants, and Sabathia presented the questions that each candidate was asked, detailing their responses.
The goal was to approve two candidates for four-year terms, replacing Delgado and Medeiros, and two candidates for two-year terms, replacing Morris-Lopez and Bains. Each candidate was voted on individually by the council, beginning with the four-year terms.
Mederios and Aranda, the ad hoc committee’s choices for four-year terms, earned support from four council members. Morris-Lopez was opposed.
Before a second vote to place on appointing NewKirk-Smith to a two-year term, a point of order was raised by Jordan noting that the advertisement for the position mentioned only four-year terms, which would have meant that they could only vote on that length of service, and which would have made all the commission seats come up for a vote every four years rather than staggering terms.
After discussion by the council, it moved to postpone the vote on the two-year term until it could be readvertised with a correction to the length of service. As there was no other recommendation from the ad hoc committee on a fourth commissioner, Jordan pointed out that it would also reopen the process for more people to apply.
Council mulls water contract, parklet removals
The council also voted to finalize an agreement with the Microvi biotech company to extend the use of their water processing plant for another year, after which it would automatically auto-renew for five years. The city would have the option to terminate the contract at any time during those five years with a 90-day notice.
A measure to remove all parklets not connected to a bar or restaurant within 60 days of the state lifting the COVID state of emergency, which is scheduled for Feb. 28, was defeated. Besides removing certain parklets, such as the ones in front of the two locations of Mrs. B’s Z-Place, it would have required owners of the remaining parklets to pay $1,000 for a new permit and a parking space rental fee.
Several business owners, including Patricia Bains (“Mrs. B”) and Kristina Hastings (Bliss Blendz), spoke against the measure, saying it went against the agreement the city had made with store owners to keep the parklets open until the city came up with an overall plan for Third Street.
After councilmember Scott Freels questioned the urgency of the measure, and in light of the comments made in opposition to it, Sabathia made a motion to have it referred back for consideration by city staff. The motion passed unanimously.
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