July 4, 2013 Edition
Commissioners pitch service to the city
By Sylvie Belmond
Among its many functions, the City of Calabasas operates commissions made up of residents who advise the local government on matters affecting the community.
At a meeting on June 19, the commissioners seeking reappointment to their posts and residents who hope to be appointed for the first time introduced themselves to the City Council and shared their ideas about how they can be of service to the city.
Calabasas has eight commissions as well as a number of committees and other groups that provide advice to the council on issues involving land use and planning, traffic and safety, historical resources, and the environment.
Most of the panels consist of five individuals appointed by city leaders. Each City Council member places an appointee on every commission.
Over the years, the city has employed different ways to select the commissioners. Initially, the council invited all candidates to attend a meeting where applicants were chosen “on the spot,” Mayor Fred Gaines said.
As time went on, the council began a more lengthy appointment process.
But after the latest round of appointments two years ago, some applicants said they felt they didn’t have a fair chance to be chosen because they weren’t allowed to formally introduce themselves and their ideas to the City Council.
At a workshop in May, officials agreed to interview all applicants in person.
And at a meeting two weeks ago the candidates had the moment they were looking for.
New applicants included Richard Sherman, a clinical psychologist who is president of the Calabasas Park Homeowners Association; William Shepphird, an architect; and Adrienne Brent, a self- employed investor and researcher who co-chairs the security committee for Calabasas Park HOA.
“I love Calabasas and am very active in working as a volunteer to maintain both the beautiful and well-functioning nature of our community,” Sherman wrote in his application.
He expressed interest in serving on the Public Safety Commission and the Parks, Recreation and Education Commission, among other panels.
Applicant Steven Roseman, president of the homeowners association for Mont Calabasas, which was annexed into the city in 2011, said he wants to play a role in local government.
A native of South Africa who has lived in the U.S. for 22 years, Roseman said his background in accounting and as a real estate attorney would be an asset to the city.
“ Within the sphere of the work that I do, I’ve had interesting involvement in a number of projects, including the construction of a new Whole Foods market in Old Town Pasadena and construction defects affecting a condominium complex,” he said.
Among other things, Roseman hopes to expand retail opportunities and work on solutions to improve traffic in Calabasas.
“I think the traffic issue is a significant problem,” said the applicant, who is willing to serve on any commission where he is needed.
Julie Elginer, a doctor of public health and a lecturer at UCLA who is also involved in the nonprofit sector, is vying for a position on any one of five commissions. She hopes to use her knowledge to maintain and improve the quality of life in Calabasas.
Candidate David Litt, a real estate agent, said he could provide an impartial and educated voice on the Planning Commission.
“The City of Calabasas is a leader not only leading the way with similar size communities but the largest cities throughout the country. We as residents must continue to keep it this way,” Litt said in his application.
Kapil Mahendra is asking for a seat on the Communications and Technology Commission to replace his high school friend Justin Slaten, who recently vacated his seat on the panel.
“I have lived in Calabasas most of my life, only leaving for college. My wife and I plan to raise our kids here as well. I have a deep love and appreciation for our city and am happy to serve in any way I can,” Mahendra wrote in his application.
Brittany Zajic, who graduated from Calabasas High School in 2011 and attends UCLA, attributes her current interest in geography and the environment to the ecologically friendly City of Calabasas.
“This city has been a prominent leader within Los Angeles County in sustainable efforts, but there is also a lot of room to improve,” said Zajic. She added that her childhood in Calabasas sculpted her into a dedicated citizen.
The City Council will name its appointments at a meeting in August.