Bruce White expected to leave Planning Commission

County Planning Commissioner Bruce White is set to resign, which would make him the third member of the high-level, five-person panel to depart in a month and leave the body with three new appointees when it convenes in January.

White did not return a phone call Friday seeking confirmation of his resignation, and county Supervisor Frank Mecham, who appointed White two years ago, would say only that he plans an announcement Monday.

However, Commissioner Carlyn Christiansen said White is leaving and that his departure was one of several factors influencing her decision to not seek a vacant seat on the San Luis Obispo City Council, and instead stay on the county Planning Commission.

Christiansen said she would not feel right leaving the commission with four new members.

Besides Christiansen, Dan O’Grady will return. Anne Wyatt has resigned, and the Board of Supervisors is expected to sign off on her successor, Ken Topping, on Tuesday.

South County Commissioner Gene Mehlschau of Nipomo also is leaving the group. Newly elected Supervisor Paul Teixeira said he is working to find a replacement.

The changes are throwing some turmoil into one of the county’s most important nonelected bodies.

The Planning Commission makes decisions about land use and does a lot of the detailed scrutiny of multimillion-dollar projects that later come before the Board of Supervisors.

In the past year, it has dealt with the Los Osos sewer and General Plan amendments, for example. In the recent past, it has vetted such controversial projects as the Santa Margarita Ranch and the viewshed ordinance.

Commissioners meet at least twice a month and sometimes more often. They also spend many hours studying highly technical planning documents and staff reports. They are paid $150 a meeting.

Each of the five county supervisors appoints one commissioner, and the board as a whole has final approval of the appointments.