Council member's mistake might oust newly appointed Costa Mesa planning commissioner

Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Genis is pushing for Planning Commissioner Stephan Andranian to be removed from his seat for the second time in as many months, saying she wrongly ranked her preferences when the council appointed members of the panel last week.

After saying in a Facebook post that she "blew it big time," Genis plans to ask for the council's support Tuesday to release Andranian from the commission.

"It's not just me who has to live with the results," she said in an interview Thursday. "So I just wanted to bring it to council to see if they want to live with the results or if they would like to recount."

Asked about the possibility of losing his seat, Andranian said, "It's not a whole lot of fun."

"I was affirmed 5-0 to serve on the Planning Commission, and that's exactly what I've done and what I intend to do," he said Thursday.

Genis' gaffe stems from a meeting Feb. 7, when council members appointed residents to serve on the city's planning, senior and parks and recreation commissions.

A council vote Jan. 3 had vacated every appointment on those commissions and started a new application process. Andranian was among those removed from the Planning Commission.

Some observers greeted the action as a way to open new opportunities for civic involvement. Others blasted it as a political ploy.

After interviewing applicants, council members at the Feb. 7 meeting ranked their preferred candidates by assigning them a point value from one to five for the planning and parks commissions and one to seven for the Senior Commission.

Those point totals were then multiplied by the number of council members selecting a particular candidate to determine a final score.

Based on those results, Andranian was selected for a two-year Planning Commission term along with Isabell Mayer Kerins and Carla Navarro Woods. Jeffrey Harlan and Byron de Arakal were selected for four-year stints. The council approved those appointments unanimously.

Genis, however, says she mistakenly ranked her candidates in reverse order.

Had she marked her ballot properly, another applicant, Teresa Callo Drain, would have landed a seat instead of Andranian. The other appointments would not be affected.

"We no longer have a rehearing procedure, so that wasn't an option," Genis said. "The only option is to remove and reappoint, or not remove and reappoint."

Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the council and can be removed at any time without cause, according to the Costa Mesa Municipal Code.

"It seems odd to me that she would have voted to approve the results and now she essentially wants a do-over," said Andranian, the only planning commissioner whose term was vacated who reclaimed a seat.

Andranian said that since he was originally appointed in 2015, he's tried to be an independent voice and do what he thinks is best for the city.

"I have not been a lockstep vote with any faction on the previous Planning Commission, and I don't plan on being a lockstep vote with any faction moving forward," he said. "I've kind of done my own thing, and I think my record reflects that."

Genis laughed when asked about speculation that her push to remove Andranian might be politically motivated.

"Oh yeah, because I love to admit that I'm, like, completely and utterly stupid for political reasons," she said. "That really builds you a lot of political capital."

Should the council approve Genis' request, the city would post the vacancy and recruit candidates to fill the seat.

The Planning Commission reviews issues related to local land use and development and has authority to take final action on certain applications. Members receive a stipend of $400 a month for twice-monthly meetings.

The retooled commission held its first meeting Monday. Andranian was selected as its chairman.

Asked whether he would apply to serve on the commission again if his term is ended early for a second time, Andranian responded, "I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."

Tuesday's City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

luke.money@latimes.com

Twitter: @LukeMMoney

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