Meet the Members of the Boards and Commissions

December 24, 2018
by Miranda Iglesias

Meet the Members of the Boards and Commissions

This article originally appeared in the November-December edition of Seascape

A great way to get involved in the Santa Monica community is to participate in one of the many boards or commissions. Here is an introduction to many of these groups and the people that lead them. For meeting dates and times see page 12 or for more information visit smgov.net/boards.


Airport Commission

ANDREW J WILDER, CHAIR
andrew.wilder@smgov.net

1) Tell us about your commission.
The Airport Commission advises the City Council on all matters pertaining to the airport and aviation in the City.

2) What do you want the residents of Santa Monica to know about your commission?
With the passage of Measure LC by a wide margin and the agreement with the FAA, the City will close the airport at the end of 2028 and turn it into a 227-acre Great Park for all to enjoy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave a grand legacy for many future generations. Until then, we are focused on keeping the airport operating safely and equitably.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Come to an Airport Commission meeting! Visit the current Airport Park (soon to be expanded) and Museum of Flying! Enjoy lunch at the Spitfire Grill! Bask in the sweeping vistas from the Airport observation deck! To learn more, visit Airport2Park.org.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
Walking to brunch at nearby restaurants. Local and Lunetta All Day are two favorites!


Architectural Review Board

THERESE KELLY
therese.kelly@smgov.net

1) What is the focus and goal of your board?
We review building and landscape projects for their compatibility and quality, looking closely at how these projects fit within their context and the unique character of each district. We evaluate design integrity, material choices, color, and sustainability among other considerations.

2) Any topics/events/resources you want the residents of Santa Monica to know about?
We were active in giving input to the new Downtown Community Plan, especially how new development will interface with Downtown’s historic character, and also how new public spaces can be activated and sidewalks designed to create a seamless public experience. Also, we now have a liaison to the Urban Forest Task Force.

3) How can residents get more involved?
We welcome public comment. Even if you can’t make it to the meeting in person, you can send comments via email beforehand and your comments will become part of the review.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
I often take my kids to the Ocean Park library and then get a treat on Main Street. I also like to ride my bike early in the morning and if I’m lucky, see a dolphin or two off shore.


Arts Commission 

MICHAEL ROBERT MYERS, CHAIR
michael.myers@smgov.net

The Arts Commission ensures a regular and ongoing assessment of arts programs in the City, develops arts programs of innovative form, recognizes and encourages the arts as a service of local government, and enriches the lives of all citizens through exposure to art in its various forms.


Commission for the Senior Community 

BARRY ENGELMAN, CHAIR
barry.engelman@smgov.net

1) What is the focus of your commission?
We act in an advisory capacity to the City Council and City management on issues relating to citizens of Santa Monica ages 50 and older. We collect information on matters relevant to seniors and make recommendations, when appropriate, to the City Council.

2) Any recent activities you want to share?
We help fund the production of the Westside Guide for the 50+ community. In April, the Commission co-sponsored a tech fair for seniors with Older Adult Task Force. In September, the Commission and Wise and Healthy Aging co-sponsored a meet and greet for seniors with the Mayor, City Manager and Police Chief. We reviewed and made recommendations on the City’s Sustainability plan, Vision Zero, and MODE transportation plan.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Santa Monica residents are welcome to attend our monthly meetings, where we provide an opportunity for public comment.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
My wife and I enjoy taking long walks on the beach path, then stopping for brunch at Perry’s.


Commission on the Status of Women

SYLVIA GHAZARIAN, CHAIR
sylvia.ghazarian@smgov.net

1) What is the goal of your commission?
Our goals are investigation, advocacy and policy development for issues relevant to women and girls. We remain committed to women’s rights and do not tolerate violence against women and girls, unequal pay, and uneven academic and economic opportunities. The Commission promotes these goals by creating leadership and career advancement opportunities in our community.

2) What are some agenda items you want Santa Monicans to know about?
To stop human trafficking; raise awareness about domestic violence, harassment, assault and rape; letters of support to the Governor on specific legislative bills; and putting together a comprehensive Status of Women and Girls Data Report. We post events and information on the City website and on facebook.com/smcosw.

3) What events are open to the community?
We have some annual core events, including a Women’s History Month reception, art exhibit and proclamation with City Council. Denim Day in April, Handbags for Hope during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, and the Women’s Empowerment Summit.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
Being with family and friends, walking our dog along the beach, visiting our many libraries, shopping at our amazing Farmers Markets, spending time at our parks and dining at the many restaurants.


Recreation and Parks Commission 

JOHN CYRUS SMITH, CHAIR
john.smith@smgov.net

1) What is the goal of your commission?
To create and maintain parks and programs that help people live fuller, healthier lives. We are now updating the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, working on the Memorial Park redesign, planning the new North Beach Bike Path and we just opened a new playground.

2) What has your commission been focused on lately?
Homelessness and public safety in our parks, especially at Reed, Palisades and Tongva parks. We have advocated for a stronger police presence and are pressing the Council to be more active in seeking new solutions to homelessness because residents say it’s a primary concern.

3) How can residents get more involved?
I often see small groups of smart, passionate people get results because they get organized and don’t give up. Find something you and your neighbors and friends care about and devote an hour or two a week to a cause and go from there. Join a neighborhood group such as wilmont.org. 4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend? Friday night with my wife cruising down the bike path to play pool or go dancing in Ocean Park or Venice. Dining in Downtown or along Montana or Main Street.


Disabilities Commission

MARIELLE KRIESEL, CHAIR
marielle.kriesel@smgov.net

1) What is the focus of your commission?
The purpose of the Disabilities Commission is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in Santa Monica by increasing awareness of the abilities and rights of people with physical and mental impairments through ongoing public events. We also advise the City Council and staff on issues of significance to people with disabilities.

2) Any recent highlights you want the residents of Santa Monica to know about?
This past May at the Main Library, we mounted a successful art exhibit of artists acknowledging their struggles with mental health through the creation of artwork in a range of media, to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. We also participated in the Main Street 4th of July parade.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Santa Monica residents can become more involved by hiring people with disabilities into meaningful roles.

4) What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Depends on the time of year, but for winter, my favorite thing to do is catch up with my pile of New Yorker magazines!


Landmarks Commission

DOLORES SLOAN, CHAIR PRO TEM
dolores.sloan@smgov.net

1) What is the goal of your commission?
The ordinance that established Santa Monica’s historic preservation program in 1975 described this so well: “To protect improvements and areas which represent the City’s cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history; safeguard the City’s historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage; and promote the use of landmarks and historic districts for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people.” [SMMC Chapter 9.56]

2) What do you want the residents of Santa Monica to know?
Any individual or organization may submit an application for Landmark, Structure of Merit or Historic District designation of a structure, group of properties, natural feature or an object. Fees are waived for non-profit organizations. Owners of designated properties enjoy benefits such as property tax savings, plan check priority status, and fee waivers for Planning permits and Building Plan check. See bit.ly/2Nur0ED. The Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) lists buildings considered potentially eligible for designation. View an interactive map of designated properties at bit.ly/SM-HCI.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Is there something in your neighborhood or elsewhere in our City, such as a home, commercial property or cultural site, which you’d like to know about because of its special character, design, beauty, location or history? Learn more about Santa Monica history at a Landmark Commission meeting or a Santa Monica Conservancy event or tour. For more information, email steve.mizokami@smgov.netstephanie.reich@smgov.net or see santamonicaconservancy.org.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
Wandering through Saturday’s Farmers Market in Virginia Avenue Park. Visiting galleries in Bergamot Station. Strolling on Ocean Front Walk. Joining community events, such as COAST and street fairs.


Housing Commission 

MICHAEL SOLOFF, CHAIR
michael.soloff@smgov.net

The Housing Commission aims to improve quality of life by supporting and helping to guide the production and preservation of affordable housing in Santa Monica. The Commission advises and assists the City Council on the housing policies, programs and projects they implement, and works to enhance the social, economic and cultural vitality of our community.


Personnel Board 

BUD PELL, CHAIR
bud.pell@smgov.net

1) Tell us about your board.
The Personnel Board advises the City Council and Human Resources Director on matters relating to personnel administration. We also act as a quasi-judicial review body for hearing employee appeals of certain disciplinary actions. In conducting our business the Board considers the rights and interests of City employees, the City administration and the citizens and taxpayers of Santa Monica.

2) What do you want the residents of Santa Monica to know?
One of the Board’s primary functions is to act as a bastion of 14th Amendment due process, which guarantees to all permanent civil service employees a formal, evidentiary hearing before a neutral body in the event of disciplinary action. Our decisions and recommendations help the City maintain a strong workforce where all employees are treated fairly.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Though we generally deal with matters that are not going to attract much public attention, meetings are open to the public. 

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
Strolling along the bluffs in Palisades Park and gazing at the glorious ocean views. Been doing it since my days at Santa Monica College, still wondrous and rejuvenating and new every time.


Planning Commission

MARIO FONDA-BONARDI
mario.fonda-bonardi@smgov.net

1) What is the goal of your commission?
The Planning Commission envisions a City of wellbeing, sustainability and equity and seeks to balance the many needs and priorities within our community in accordance with the City’s General Plan, its Specific Plans and State law. Specifically, it acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council and Planning Department staff regarding upcoming projects, complex development issues, code changes and long-term planning documents.

2) What topics do you cover during the meetings?
We cover a gamut of issues from sustainability to housing affordability to mobility (traffic) to coastal access, among others. It’s all informed by public input, impartial analysis and best practices in land use and planning.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Typically about once a week, there is a hearing or workshop residents and businesses can attend about some topic of planning interest. The best thing to do is to go to those hearings or presentations and offer your opinion on the issues that concern you.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
Go to the beach!


Santa Monica Library Board 

MARC MORGENSTERN, CHAIR
marc.morgenstern@smgov.net

1) Tell us about your board.
The Santa Monica Library Board plays an advisory and oversight role in the operation of our five libraries. Goals include: serving as a vibrant learning center through all phases of life, cultivating wellbeing for all and offering a forum for true civic engagement. We are also working to address homelessness, among other core community concerns.

2) Any agenda items you want the residents of Santa Monica to know about?
Agendas have included homelessness, removal of fines for children, and our technology master plan. Our resources are unparalleled. An extensive physical collection of books, e-books, CDs, DVDs and photographs, with free, digital access for these media via your phone or laptop. We provide entertaining and educational programs for all ages inside our libraries, plus pop-up libraries at the beach. Schedules are available at our branches or online at smpl.org.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Join us by obtaining a library card at any branch. We welcome Santa Monica residents to attend our meetings, where we set aside time for comments and questions. Residents are also welcome to get involved with the Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation of Santa Monica. Visit your local branch, our website, our Facebook page—facebook.com/smpublib.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
I sit outside early in the morning reading a book I’ve taken out of the library.


Social Services Commission 

BILL PARENT, CHAIR
bill.parent@smgov.net

1) What is the focus of your commission?
The Social Services Commission works to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all Santa Monica residents through research, outreach and advocacy. The Commission advises City Council and City staff on identifying needs, setting priorities, planning programs and analyzing fiscal impacts on social services.

2) Anything you want the residents of Santa Monica to know about?
The Social Services Commission acts as an additional set of eyes and ears for the City Council. In the coming year, we will focus on a range of issues, including unmet needs of children, youth and families; mental health issues as they apply to homelessness, substance abuse and recovery, board and care; and accountability in terms of goals and objectives and performance management in the City’s awards and contracts.

3) How can residents get more involved?
Get off the internet, and deliberate challenges and ideas face to face. Become active with commissions and initiatives such as the Homelessness Steering Committee. The City’s “Volunteer, Donate, Advocate” challenge is a pretty good place to start.

4) What’s your favorite thing to do in Santa Monica during the weekend?
Sail our little boat, walk on the beach, listen to live music, especially at McCabe’s and Harvelle’s, and watch my Red Sox beat the Yankees at Big Dean’s.

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