A retired teacher and former Brea mayor who considers herself an advocate of "planned" growth has been named to the County Planning Commission, it was announced Friday.
"I am a problem-solver and that is certainly what a planner has to be," said Clarice A. Blamer. "You look at each project individually, evaluate its impacts, make sure you look at it from a regional view. I don't think you can isolate development."
Blamer, 69, was appointed to the commission's 3rd District seat by Board of Supervisors Chairman Gaddi H. Vasquez and will assume the post Jan. 15. She succeeds Stephen A. Nordeck, who lost his seat because the county's redistricting plan placed him outside Vasquez's district.
"Clarice has record of service very difficult to match," Vasquez said, noting her 27 years as a teacher in Fullerton and, after her retirement, eight years on the Brea City Council.
Vasquez also cited Blamer's seven years on the Orange County Transportation Commission, calling that tenure "a great asset to someone serving on the County Planning Commission. . . . Transportation is going to be a very important component of future planning."
At least one county environmentalist agreed.
Norm Grossman, who serves on the boards of both the Laguna Greenbelt and the Laguna Canyon Conservancy, said that Blamer's service on the Transportation Commission will "give her a more regional view of things," although he said he hoped that it wouldn't give her a "transportation bias."
Grossman said Blamer's appointment was an "interesting" one and, "in some aspects," a good one.
"My experiences with Clarice have been very positive," he said. "She's easy to work with, willing to listen, willing to work out solutions to problems" and "very adept at county politics."
Blamer, who has been married to John William Blamer for 46 years, has three grown children and six grandchildren. For 18 months of her tenure on the Brea City Council, she served as mayor. She was defeated for reelection in 1990 by 300 votes.
Blamer declined to state any positions on specific proposals before the Planning Commission.
However, in looking at development proposals generally, she said:
"You need to think that you are planning not just one project. You need to deal with it regionally."
At the same time, she added, it is necessary to ask whether the project on the table is also "compatible with future development."
Blamer said she was concerned with "both the infrastructure and the environment," preserving the environment and trying to make certain that infrastructure elements like roads and schools are in place at the same time that residents move in.
"If we are going to develop, we're going to have to have the infrastructure," she said.
The issue of whether developers or residents should pay for the infrastructure of new projects may not be the central issue, Blamer said. If developers are forced to pay the costs, she said, the likelihood is that they will only pass those costs along to new home buyers.
A larger concern, Blamer said, is "keeping a good balance in making sure that development doesn't ruin what is already here for us."
The environment, she said, means "more than just physical environment. There is a social aspect you have to look at. I'm not against growth, but it has to be well planned, with careful consideration of its impact."
Conflicts of interest and the Planning Commission's image also seemed to be on Blamer's mind.
"I bring a real sense of fairness to the commission," Blamer said. "I think I am known throughout the county for my integrity. . . . I'm not a person whose social life is involved with people I normally do business with."
Nordeck, Blamer's predecessor, was criticized in 1990 for hosting a political dinner at his Trabuco Canyon restaurant, although he was ultimately cleared by the Orange County district attorney's office of conflict-of-interest charges. Among those attending the dinner, held in support of the Assembly campaign of Peter von Elton, were several local developers and another member of the Planning Commission, Roger D. Slates.
Blamer acknowledged some ties to developers of her own.
In the year since she left the Brea City Council, Blamer said she has done about 400 hours of paid consulting work for two local projects. In both cases, her work was mainly in the area of education.
Most of the consulting was for Lowe Development Co., helping to set up a day-care center for tenants of the Brea Marketplace, Blamer said. She also worked with Unocal on a 380-acre commercial development in north Fullerton.
Most future development will probably occur in the South County, Blamer said, because that is where most of the remaining open space is. Beyond that, she said, "I don't have any preconceived ideas of what's to happen where."
Clarice A. Blamer
Born: Cedardale, Okla., 1922.
Education: Northwest State University, Alva, Okla., 1938-1942, bachelor of sciences degree; additional study at Chapman College, Cal State Fullerton, Whittier College and Dennison University.
Family: Married for 46 years to John William Blamer; three children, De Ann Pruett, 42, Debi Cockrell, 39, and Steven Blamer, 35; and six grandchildren.
Career: Worked for aircraft and utility companies in Kansas; taught in Fullerton School District (math and biology) at primary and secondary levels, 1955-1982. Now retired.
Government service: Brea City Council, 1982-1990, including 18 months as mayor; Orange County Transportation Commission 1984-1991, including term as chairwoman, 1986-1987.
Developer ties: Worked about 400 hours last year as a consultant on two local commercial projects for Unocal and Lowe Development Co.
Community activities: Girl Scouts, Pacific Auditorium, Habitat for Humanity, Soroptimists.
County Planning Commission
The five-member Orange County Planning Commission holds public hearings and makes decisions on land-use and variance permits, site and discretionary plans in unincorporated areas of the county.
It also recommends actions to the Board of Supervisors on zoning, specific, coastal and general plans. Its permit and planning decisions can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors. Each supervisor appoints one commissioner, who represents that supervisorial district.
Members of the commission are: Earl Wooden of Santa Ana, appointed in 1974; Thomas Moody of Laguna Niguel, appointed in 1984; Roger Slates of Huntington Beach, appointed in 1989; Chuck McBurney of Anaheim, appointed this year, and Clarice A. Blamer, 69, appointed Friday.