OB planners prepare to host candidate forum ahead of March 11 board election
by TONY de GARATE
Feb 26, 2014 | 4140 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s being billed as a candidate forum, but an “open audition” or even “cattle call” might be an equally apt description of the event to be held at next month’s regular meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB).

Of the seven races for two-year terms, only one candidate — incumbent Peter Ruscitti, who is giving up his District 6 seat to run in District 3 — has qualified to appear on the

March 11 ballot. That means many of the remaining positions are bound to be filled by board appointment after the election, and citizens can use the forum to campaign for those post-election appointments in person.

The forum will take place March 5 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave. The election will be held March 11 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the same location. Identification and proof of residence is required.

Appointments to fill vacancies after the election could take place as soon as the April 2 meeting.

To be eligible to serve on the board, citizens must be at least 18 and live, own property or run a business in the Ocean Beach planning area.

The area is divided up into seven districts; candidates must gather 35 signatures in the district in which they run. (To see the boundaries of the planning area and the even districts, visit oceanbeachplanning.org.)

The OBPB is one of 40-plus community-based groups that have been sanctioned by the city to vet development projects and make recommendations on land-use and quality-of-life issues. Recently, the board approved the Ocean Beach Community Plan, a document intended to guide growth over the next 20 years.

Though only one candidate submitted an application packet by the Feb. 5 deadline, there's still time for write-in candidates to qualify. Write-ins can turn in applications at the forum or make arrangements to submit to a member of the board's Election Committee by March 10.

Hopefuls who skip the election and seek board appointment don’t have to satisfy a requirement that disqualified some: anyone running on March 11 must have attended at least one board meeting between February 2013 and January 2014.

That fact could encourage more candidates to participate in the forum and ask for post-election appointment. At least two citizens at the February OBPB meeting mistakenly thought they had satisfied the attendance requirement by appearing at the meeting. One — former District 4 representative Seth Connolly — had already collected signatures.

Raeanon Hartigan, who chaired the Elections Committee, said next year's effort will begin earlier to underscore the attendance requirement.

It’s unclear why so many incumbents failed to qualify for the ballot. However, incumbents John Ambert (District 1), Barbara Schmidtknecht (District 2), Andrew Wilson (District 3), and Ginese Quann (District 7) may still run as write-ins. Giovanni Ingolia (District 5) is termed out and the District 4 position is vacant.

“I'm not sure why some of the incumbents didn’t get their applications in,” Hartigan said in an email. “I don't want to email them to ask or remind them because it could be viewed as giving OBPB incumbents special consideration that the public doesn't have.”

OBPB members have appeared at recent Wednesday Farmers Markets to raise awareness of the forum and election.

“[It's been] “a great way to educate people on what the OB Planning Board does and let them know about the elections,” said Hartigan.

“It has also been great to hear what Obeceans want for our community in a less formal setting than the board meetings,” he said.

Election information is available at oceanbeachplanning.org/archives/1050. A city-prepared handbook for all planning board members may be viewed at sandiego.gov/planning/community/cow.shtml.
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