Ted Rosenfeldt will join the San Juan Capistrano Planning Commission as a new member.
The San Juan Capistrano City Council unanimously approved appointments to the Planning Commission on Tuesday, March 21, as recommended by a mayoral subcommittee made up of Mayor Howard Hart and Councilmember John Taylor.
Rosenfeldt will join current Planning Commissioners Stan Braden, Darren Fancher, Matt Gaffney, and Tami Wilhelm, who were re-appointed. Rosenfeldt comes to the Planning Commission with experience on the Parks, Equestrian, and Community Services Commission.
He is a familiar face in San Juan, often attending the community’s Coffee Chat discussions and other local events.
The appointments were approved following a lengthy discussion started by Councilmember Troy Bourne regarding his desire for the Planning Commission to serve as a launching pad for future city leaders.
Bourne floated the possibility of placing Planning Commission candidates who are long-term city residents and have technical expertise on the Cultural Heritage Commission instead, a choice that ultimately was not unanimously approved by the other councilmembers.
“We’re strong on lifetime residents who have a lot of experience living in San Juan and understand our culture and history. I think we have a lot of names that bring that to the table,” Bourne said. “We’re short on people who might be future city councilmembers. We’re short on young families.”
A motion by Bourne to substitute Jennifer McNabb and Colin Harris—people suggested by Taylor—for Rosenfeldt and Gaffney died by a split 2-2 vote. Bourne and Taylor voted yes, while Hart and Councilmember John Campbell voted no. Mayor Pro Tem Sergio Farias was not at Tuesday’s meeting.
Campbell said he was “uncomfortable” with disregarding subcommittee recommendations “at the 11th hour.”
Taylor said the applicant pool was “outstanding.”
“It was difficult to choose who we chose. I had a lot of people’s names chosen,” Taylor said. “There were amazing people with great backgrounds in various roles in the community.”
Hart said the matter was a “difficult conversation” to have in private, let alone publicly and in front of the applicants.
“This is, quite honestly, the worst part of the job. I enjoy this less than any other part of being a councilmember,” Hart said. “You’re looking at Planning Commission, and I don’t think there’s one person that applied that, as a former planning commissioner myself, I looked at and said, well, they weren’t just as good or better than I would have been.”
Hart said he and Taylor’s recommendations were based on applicant responses during candidate interviews.
“A lot of it went on the sense of how it would reflect the council, how it would reflect our priorities, and how it would affect other commissions,” Hart said. “That’s a judgment call, like in so many other ways we operate up here. There are no black-and-white answers, and that comes down sometimes to a 30-second answer to a question that they weren’t expecting, perhaps.”
Campbell said making such decisions is a “difficult process” and “gut judgment” based on who councilmembers think will do the best job.
“I might argue that, perhaps, there could be some parameters that are put forward to help guide those selections, as well to bring our pool to a different level,” Campbell said. “We certainly have four people that have served on our commission in the past and done an excellent job.”
Bourne praised the commissioners recommended by the subcommittee and said Braden is “one of the most accomplished architects in Orange County” and Wilhelm “is one of the most effective planning commissioners I’ve ever seen.”
Bourne also said he and Rosenfeldt are close friends, and Rosenfeldt was even his campaign manager when Bourne ran for City Council.
“Part of what I’m feeling is we have this really strong leadership, and then I feel some urgency, because I don’t know that we’re going to have Stan and Tami on the Planning Commission for the next 10 years,” Bourne said. “I feel like we have this opportunity to train new leadership, and my fear is that we have everybody out in the next two to four years and we’re starting from scratch—as opposed to bringing some people in that might be in the city in leadership roles, maybe elected, maybe on the Planning Commission, 10 years from now, having served under these really compelling leaders.”
Campbell said Bourne’s remarks were “spot on” and “understandable.”
The City Council also approved appointments to other city boards, including the Cultural Heritage Commission. New Cultural Heritage Commissioner Kristina Perrigoue will join the reappointed members.
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