Tucker Gets Nod for Planning Panel

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The City Council appointed a new planning commissioner Tuesday, voting 6-1 for real estate investor Larry Tucker.

There were 26 candidates for the council to choose from. Councilmember Nancy Gardner was the one differing ballot, casting her vote for Tim Stoaks.

The moves come after the Newport Beach City Council voted 4-3 on Nov. 29 to waive council policy and use an expedited process of finding a new planning commissioner, so the new official could immediately become involved with the Banning Ranch Project before it goes before the commission in January.

The accelerated appointment process gave the public shorter notice than usual and eliminated an applicant reviewing subcommittee.

The position became available when commission Chairman Charles Unsworth unexpectedly resigned Nov. 14. Unsworth stated that since he wasn’t up for reappointment and the commission’s involvement with the Banning Ranch project would extend past his term, his empty seat would allow his successor to be involved with the project from the beginning of the commission’s decision-making process.

The City Clerk initially projected, based on the usual appointment process, that the new planning commissioner would be in place no sooner than the group’s first meeting in February.

“I was very concerned about that … because of the Banning Ranch situation,” then-Mayor, Mike Henn said at a previous council meeting. “That’s what drove me to suggest an accelerated time frame.”

Councilmembers Steve Rosansky and Leslie Daigle and Mayor Nancy Gardner have all previously stated their opposition to the rushed appointment process, saying it’s unfair to the public and unnecessary.

Rosansky reiterated his objection to the expedited process and the waiving of the city policy before voting Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s meeting, resident Jim Mosher noted the importance of geographical diversity on the commission and that the panel lacks any female members. He also emphasized that the candidate’s backgrounds should be carefully considered, particularly those with experience different than the current commissioners.

Tucker, a 33-year resident of Newport Beach, is a real estate investor with Grant Tucker Properties. Tucker previously served on the Planning Commission, including two stints as chairman, from 1999 to 2006, according to his application. He has also served on the Charter Update Committee, Civic Center and Park Design Committee, and the City Hall Site Committee.

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