Several Costa Mesa commissions and committees are now at full strength after the City Council appointed new members Tuesday.
With a flurry of votes, the council named Jenna Tourje and Dianne Russell to the Planning Commission, Charlene Ashendorf and Kelli Frager to the Parks, Arts and Community Services Commission, Barbara Steck to the Historical Preservation Committee and Eileen Cirillo and Michael Dougher to the Mobile Home Park Advisory Committee.
The moves bring the planning and parks commissions to seven members for the first time since the council decided earlier this year to expand their rosters from five members.
As part of that move, planning commissioners — which review and act on certain projects and permit applications and advise the council on issues related to development and long-term growth — are now selected by voting district, with each council member nominating someone from the district he or she represents and the mayor choosing an at-large candidate.
Councilman Manuel Chavez nominated Tourje from District 4 — a dense pocket of the Westside ranging from Harbor Boulevard west to Monrovia Avenue and south to West 17th Street.
Tourje works at the firm Kearns & West as a consulting director and facilitator, leading “outreach processes for community planning, active transportation and sustainability projects throughout California,” according to her application.
“With this appointment, what I’m trying to do is have someone that’s qualified, which Jenna truly is, [and] also someone that understands the community — understands we’re a close-knit family, if you will, of people that are still fearful of what could be,” Chavez said, citing a “perceived fear” in the community that “past council administrations” have wanted to push some Westside residents out of the city. “I feel like Jenna has the capabilities to do outreach.”
Russell was Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds’ choice from District 5, which covers the rest of the Westside and downtown.
Russell, a longtime local resident, wrote in her application that she’s “especially interested in housing issues,” “what kinds of businesses have a positive impact on the city” and “the relationship between where we live, where we work and how we move from one place to another.”
Reynolds said she was “thrilled to nominate Dianne for this position,” citing in particular her “great background in housing.”
“She’s out in the community a lot, a great listener, which I think are really important aspects to continue to build in our representation,” Reynolds added.
The only time council members disagreed on appointments Tuesday was for the parks commission, which assists and provides advice to the council on matters related to parks, arts and community services. Councilwoman Sandy Genis dissented after her nomination of Ashendorf and another applicant, Gary Parkin, did not gain support. Mayor Katrina Foley’s nomination of Ashendorf and Frager was approved.
Councilman Allan Mansoor left the meeting before any of the appointments were made.