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Del Mar design review board, planning commission posts filled

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Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar’s two most important legislative committees under the City Council will have a full complement of members as a result of council action Monday, June 3.

From among five applicants, the council chose investment analyst Jason Dempsey on Monday, June 3, to serve as one of the seven voting members on the Design Review Board. He will replace Tim Haviland, whose four-year term expired in April.

“I was very lucky to grow up in this town,” Dempsey said in his interview by council members during Monday’s session. “I’ve lived in different places and appreciate how wonderful it is.

“This is my chance to begin to give back to the city and also to make a small contribution ... to help think about how we are going to look 10 to 15 years into the future.”

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A first-time applicant for a city volunteer post, Dempsey embarked on his career after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley as well as a doctorate in rhetoric from the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

Council members also appointed Solana Beach architect Philip Szymanski to the review board’s ex-officio seat, a two-year term.

The non-voting position is an advisory role that must be occupied by a planning professional. The appointee does not have to be a Del Mar resident.

Board members are responsible for evaluating projects for their consistency with the city’s design review ordinance, including their compatibility with surrounding development.

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In contrast, the five-member Planning Commission reviews and makes decisions on land-use applications for their compliance with the community plan and zoning regulations and also makes recommendations to the council on major development initiatives.

Five residents applied for two seats opening up on the commission with the expiration this month of the four-year terms held by Carmen Myers and Nathan McCay.

McCay applied for another term, while Greg Rothnem, Gala Yayla, John Farrell and David Doyle also vied for seats.

A former Design Review Board member, McCay was asked to compare service on that panel to the Planning Commission.

“The DRB is a much more miserable job than the Planning Commission,” he said, referring to the board’s often highly contentious proceedings.

A majority of council members, however, decided to spurn experience in favor of fresh faces.

The council chose longtime resident and history professor John Farrell, as well as attorney and former U.S. prosecutor David Doyle.

In the review board and Planning Commission proceedings, Yayla, who applied for both panels, accused Councilwoman Ellie Haviland of being biased against her.

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In a statement preceding the review board interviews, Haviland said she once had been involved in a property dispute with Yayla. The councilwoman contended the dispute was resolved without litigation and she had no bias toward the candidate.

Haviland did not abstain from voting, and supported Dempsey for the appointment.

Haviland was at the center of a controversy earlier this year when the council first considered the review board appointments. Haviland’s husband, Tim Haviland, then the review board’s chairman, applied for reappointment.

That provoked an outburst of criticism from some residents and City Council observers who contended the city had a longstanding, unwritten policy against having spouses and significant others serving simultaneously on the council and city committees.

Haviland recused herself from that earlier discussion, and the council split 2-2 in the appointment vote. As a result, the council directed the city clerk to reopen the application process and reschedule the issue for last Monday.

On June 17, the council is scheduled to reconsider whether the city should have an explicit written policy on whether to allow or disallow “significant others” from serving at the same time on the council and city panels.

Also Monday, the council appointed Maidy Morhous and Kathryn Grimm, while reappointing Julie Maxey-Allison, to serve three-year terms on the Arts Advisory Committee.


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