UPDATE: Bruce White said resignation from county Planning Commission not a quick decision

Jim Irving
Jim Irving

Adelaida rancher and Realtor Jim Irving has been nominated to replace Bruce White on the county Planning Commission — the second new member to be named to the five-person panel this month, with a third vacancy looming.

Supervisor Frank Mecham asked fellow supervisors to approve the appointment of Irving, owner of the Adelaida Angus Ranch, effective Jan. 4.

Irving has served as an alternate on the county Assessment Appeals Board and as chairman of the California Association of Realtors’ land use and environmental committee.

A longtime county resident, Irving graduated from Harvard University in 1969 and received his master’s in international agriculture from Cal Poly in 1979.

White, a North County plumbing contractor, resigned Friday after serving two years.

He told The Tribune on Monday that the commission is “a demanding position,” requiring not only time at meetings but also time spent preparing for them.

Besides managing rental property, White runs a plumbing business, which he said has taken a hit during the recession and requires more of his time.

White said he has been speaking with Mecham for weeks about leaving the Planning Commission. Mecham wrote in an e-mail that White is leaving “due to the impacts on his business, family matters and the inordinate amount of time required to perform the tasks of a planning commissioner.”

“It’s been coming for some time,” Mecham said Monday. He said the job has been putting stress on White, his business and his family.

He praised White for spending “endless hours on complex issues for the county, most notably the Los Osos sewer project.”

“His attention to detail,” Mecham continued in a news release, “as well as his balanced approach to all projects, was greatly appreciated by the commission and the Board of Supervisors. His respect for all applicants, staff and his colleagues on the commission has been most commendable.”

North Coast Commissioner Anne Wyatt resigned earlier this month. The supervisors are expected today to name Ken Topping to replace her.

Gene Mehlschau, the longtime commissioner appointed by Supervisor Katcho Achadjian in 2001, also is leaving. Newly-elected South County Supervisor Paul Teixeira says he is searching for a replacement and wants someone who will be a voice for agriculture, like Mehlschau.

The other planning commissioners are Carlyn Christiansen and Dan O’Grady.

The Planning Commission makes decisions about land use and conducts much of the detailed scrutiny of multimillion-dollar projects that later go before the Board of Supervisors.

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