The city of Goleta is looking for two new planning commissioners in the wake of an abrupt conflict determination by its City Attorney’s Office.
Longtime Planning Commissioner Ed Fuller announced his resignation from the panel in December, after he was elected to the board of directors of the Goleta Sanitary District.
After he was elected, Fuller did his own research and determined there could potentially be a conflict serving on both the commission and the board.
“I would have preferred to remain a Planning Commissioner while also a director for the Goleta Sanitary District,” Fuller told Noozhawk. “I requested an opinion from the city of Goleta attorney, Michael Jenkins. After his thorough research, it appears the two offices were ‘incompatible,’ and since I had been elected to the Goleta Sanitary District, I felt I needed to respect the wishes of the voters.”
Fuller said he had to push Jenkins for the opinion after doing his own research.
He first contacted the state Fair Political Practices Commission, then the California Attorney General’s office. The latter did not give him an opinion on his specific circumstance, but sent him a previous ruling it had made.
The 2012 legal opinion, by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris, involved Jim Fitzpatrick, who simultaneously served on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District and the city of Costa Mesa Planning Commission.
“When a person is found to be holding incompatible offices, she or he can no longer occupy both, and is deemed to have forfeited the first office upon accepting the
second,” the ruling states.
Fuller said he would have preferred to remain on both boards, but didn’t want to take the legal chance, so he resigned from the Planning Commission.
Around the same time, Luz Reyes-Martin, a member of the Goleta Union School District board of trustees, also resigned from the Planning Commission.
“I chose to step down and focus on my service to the school district,” Reyes-Martin said. “There’s a lot of work to do at the school district, and now we are working on recruiting our next superintendent.”
Reyes-Martin added, “It is a tremendous honor to volunteer my time in service of our Goleta community in any way that I can.”
“In serving on the Planning Commission, I wanted to bring to bear my background in land-use planning to learn more about specific planning issues in the community, and increase community knowledge and awareness about important issues facing our city in the future,” Reyes-Martin said.
The City Attorney’s Office did not return calls regarding the situation, and city spokeswoman Kelly Hoover told Noozhawk, “The memo you requested is an attorney-client privileged communication, and not subject to disclosure.”
Now, Goleta is looking for two new commissioners.
Councilman Roger Aceves appointed Fuller, and Councilman James Kyriaco appointed Reyes-Martin.
“We are advertising and reviewing applications,” Kyriaco said. “We look forward to getting someone who can make solid decisions based on facts and what’s in the best interest of the city.”
Aceves said he was happy with the work Fuller did.
“He’s represented our city very well for the past six years,” said Aceves, who has had only had two commissioners during the 14 years he’s been on the City Council.
Both Kyriaco and Aceves are conducting interviews for the new commissioners.
— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.