Despite three votes, the City Council failed Monday to agree on a replacement for Councilman Ronald B. Hoesterey, who resigned last month.
With only four members remaining, the council deadlocked on issues ranging from raising developer fees to approving minutes from the previous meeting.
The council considered eight candidates who sent letters expressing interest in the vacant seat.
Councilmen John Kelly and Earl J. Prescott voted for Charles Mack, a construction-materials salesman. Mayor Richard B. Edgar and Mayor Pro Tem Ursula E. Kennedy voted for Charles Puckett, a former planning commissioner and two-time council candidate.
Because of the deadlock, the seat will be filled by the voters.
"We have declared that we are unable to resolve our issues, and we shall have to go to an election," Edgar said.
The election will be in April unless a residents group is successful in overturning the council's Nov. 20 decision to move local elections from November to April.
The council also split 2 to 2 on raising development fees to help pay for the proposed Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor tollway. Prescott and Kelly voted against the fee increases, which are designed to pay 48% of the tollway's construction.
"I'm all for what we can do to help alleviate the traffic crisis in our area," Kelly said. "But I feel strongly that somehow, some way, we have to curb how much the taxpayer can absorb."
Kennedy, who sided with Edgar, said it makes sense to charge new developments for their impact on existing residents.
Although Tustin did not approve the increases, Jerry Bennett, chief engineer for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, said he is optimistic that they will go into effect after two-thirds of the Joint Powers Agency members approve them. Five of the 11 members have already voted for the increases, according to a spokeswoman from the agencies.
The council was also unable to agree on new developer fees for projects in designated areas along the Santa Ana-Tustin border. The two cities last month created a joint-powers agreement to charge the fees, which would have been used for street and traffic-signal improvements.
Without Tustin's approval of the development fee, the city's share for traffic improvements in the designated areas will be paid for from the city's general funds, City Atty. James G. Rourke said.