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Publication Date: Friday, August 24, 2001

Planning commission facing sizeable turnover Planning commission facing sizeable turnover (August 24, 2001)

Moholt, Showalter and Frankum hit term limits

by Justin Scheck


The Environmental Planning Commission will be losing its three longest-serving members when Pat Showalter, Carol Moholt, and Chair Tom Frankum reach their term limits December 31.

It is not yet clear who will be taking over for the three, as the city is still soliciting applicants for the seven-member commission.

Frankum said last week that he sees the departing threesome as among "the most progressive" members of the commission, and that their departures could change the commission's political makeup.

Speaking Tuesday, Moholt said that in her eight years on the planning commission she has become informed on the various land-use issues the city faces, and has seen the complexities involved in long-term planning.

"No matter what one's beliefs are, there's a code, our general plan, that we go by, and there's also federal laws, so a lot of what your personal beliefs are are subject to the plan," she said. "Everyone I know, including myself, who has been on a planning commission has had their views changed from learning the law."

Moholt said that when she joined the commission there were three new members, including herself, and that it was "a little rough," but she expects the transition next year will be relatively smooth, considering the experience of the four sitting commissioners.

Moholt said that in recent years the planning commission has consisted of people with a diverse set of ideas, and that in working toward a consensus they have had to engage in detailed discussions until solutions for problems they face become clear.

Council member Rosemary Stasek said hopes to have a diverse pool of applicants for the vacant seats.

"What's important is the perspective they bring, and how that perspective enriches the deliberations of commissioners," said Stasek.

She said that, because the council does not have the time to explore land use issues with the depth and detail the planning commission takes on, she depends on their discussions to keep her informed of the different aspects of planning issues.

"I don't want city-staff items to be rubber-stamped, and I don't want the planning commission to work in lock-step with one political ideology," Stasek said.

Applicants for the commission are interviewed by the appointments-review committee, made up of Council members Matt Pear and Ralph Faravelli and Mayor Mario Ambra. Stasek said that although the committee's choices must be approved by the entire council, there is generally little or no council debate on who will be appointed.

She said also that, unlike other city commissions and committees, there is stiff competition for seats on the planning commission. Moholt said she does not know who will be applying for the position, but she hopes to see a large number of people apply.

"It's a fascinating learning experience for anyone who's really interested in how things come together for a city," Moholt said.

She hopes to work toward establishing community gardens in the city after leaving the planning commission.

"In Mountain View 60 percent of our residents live in apartments or condos, so having more people in community gardens would be a good thing," Moholt said.

But until her term is up, Moholt will be working with the planning commission on the new housing element of the city's general plan, which must be complete by the year's end.


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