Squabble Over Design Panel Ends

Times Staff Writer

Last week's clash between Pasadena Mayor William E. Thomson and Director Rick Cole over appointments to the city Design Commission was resolved quietly Tuesday when the city Board of Directors approved the mayor's appointments without comment on a 5-2 vote.

The action means that architects Frank T. Sata and Eugene Flores will replace Chairman William W. Ellinger and Vice Chairman Michael Salazar on the commission, which advises the city board on design standards and reviews building projects.

Cole, who last week accused the mayor of a "destructive and wrongheaded" approach in seeking to replace Ellinger and Salazar, made no comment at Tuesday's board meeting.

Afterward, he said he had told mayor last Friday that he did not intend to prolong the controversy and to ask if the mayor had suggestions that would break the deadlock over the appointments.

Cole said no deal was made, but that Thomson said he would talk to Ellinger about possibly appointing him to another seat on the eight-member Design Commission. A vacancy was created when Alexander Tan resigned last week.

Cole said he told the mayor that he is considering appointing Salazar to the city's Community Development Committee, and the mayor said he would not interfere with that appointment.

Thomson said Wednesday that he has made no decision on filling the vacancy on the Design Commission but would "certainly consider him (Ellinger) along with other people."

Only Director Jess Hughston sided with Cole in opposing the mayor's appointments Tuesday.

Although he made no comment at the board meeting, Cole said in an interview that the mayor has taken the city on a course that could leave commissioners subject to political influence.

Cole said he had never before seen a mayor "trying to pack" a commission with his own people. But if this mayor can do that, Cole said, then the next mayor, with different views, might want to bring in his own appointees.

"I would hope we would not all get down in the gutter with that kind of tactic," Cole said.

Thomson, who can appoint five of the eight members of the Design Commission, said last week that he hoped new commissioners would speed up the design approval process. He said there had been complaints that the commission was "getting involved in the minutiae of design." He denied that the replacement of Ellinger and Salazar was politically motivated.

Salazar is co-chairman of Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment, which sponsored a slow-growth initiative approved by voters in March.

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