Incumbents reappointed to Design Review Board

No architectural design or construction professionals made the cut in the latest round of appointments to the Board of Adjustment/Design Review Board.

The City Council reappointed Caren Liuzzi and Michael Wilkes to the board at the Oct. 18 meeting, bypassing a civil engineer/land surveyor, an architect and a designer/builder.

The hearing was tense but not quite as testy as the previous round of appointments, when architect Leslie LeBon was bumped from the board and her husband, Peter Navarro, demanded to have the appointments nullified, to no avail.

"Over the years, DRB has become a complex process, and because of the complexities, it is vital for an effective member to not only have the technical skills for analyzing project plans, but also to have thorough understanding of association building codes and the 14 design review criteria," said LeBon, who reapplied this year.

LeBon said current board members do not always make unbiased decisions, to the detriment of the applicant and the city.

"The objective application of design guidelines allow for Laguna's character and charm to remain intact while allowing a property owner to improve it," said Liuzzi, who claims seven years' experience on the board. "I have been consistent in my interpretation and application of the design guidelines."

Wilkes, a landscape architect who has served four years, was the only applicant to garner five votes from the council.

Council members Kelly Boyd and Elizabeth Pearson voted for LeBon. Councilwoman Verna Rollinger, Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly and Mayor Toni Iseman voted for Liuzzi.

"I suspect this may be the best board we have ever had," said Iseman. "We have fewer appeals, and I don't get stopped on the street with complaints."

That is not how Navarro sees it. Before he spoke, Iseman said she presumed his comments would not be personal.

"Why not?" he asked.

"The council has a big and growing problem with the DRB as it is constituted now," Navarro said. "That is reflected in more appeals of late and the council has overturned many (board) decisions. [The council] could do a real good job by reconstituting the board instead of going with status quo."

Again, his words were to no avail.

Liuzzi and Wilkes will serve through Jan. 31, 2014. Terms for the other three members of the board will end in February 2013, with appointments to be made in October 2012.

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