Scott Gold will return to commission to fill seat after Justin Rodriguez’s resignation

The Solvang City Council met for its regular meeting — its first with new City Manager Randy Murphy — on Monday, May 8, and were faced with a vacancy on the Planning Commission.

Item 6A to appoint a new Planning Commissioner came about when Justin Rodriguez, who was appointed to the commission by Councilmember Dan Brown in January, submitted his resignation on April 19. He did not give a reason for his decision to step down in his resignation email.

With that, the council was faced with two options, according to City Administator Wendy Berry: Pick a replacement that night among the three applicants — Denise El Amin, Scott Gold, and Jennifer Dryden Hess — who were not appointed to the Planning Commission in January, or open up the commission spot to new applicants, in which case it would be vacant for at least a month.

The council decided to take the former option, with Brown making the appointment since it was his January appointment that resigned from the commission. The District 3 councilmember appointed Gold, who has previously served on the Planning Commission and the Board of Architectural Review.

Gold is expected to take his seat on the Planning Commission for its next meeting on June 5. His term lasts until Dec. 31, 2024.

Gold was not present at Monday’s City Council meeting, but El Amin was, and she spoke for public comment after the appointment was made.

“I think I’m the only candidate here,” El Amin said. “I did submit my name for all the boards but no one has picked me yet, but that’s OK.

“But I will keep coming and keep applying, and one of these days, I’m going to win, and when I do, you guys already know what’s coming at you,” she added with a smile.

The council approved the appointment by a 4-0 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Orona absent.

Next, the council heard Item 6B, discussing a possible action to initiate the annual assessment for the Solvang Skytt Mesa Landscape & Lighting Maintenance District. City staff recommended a 5 percent increase to the assessment, which would bring the cost to $1,360.80 per parcel. Public Works Director Rodger Olds cited anticipated utility rate increases and infrastructure maintenance costs as reasons for the increase.

For public comment, El Amin, who lives in the Skytt Mesa area, said for landscaping the city was working under a good contract, but claimed the landscapers do not follow it.

“It’s very specific and entails every month what they’re supposed to be doing, which they never do,” she said. “I object to any more money being spent on this LLC, because you’re not even making the people you’re paying the money to do what they’re supposed to do.”

In response to those comments and a question from Brown, Olds said “The agency (Brightview) has had that contract for the last 4 1/2 years. They have a full crew out there three days a week. They are maintaining everything they need to.”

The item was passed by council by a 4-0 vote.

Earlier, Mayor Mark Infante welcomed new City Manager Randy Murphy, who was at his first meeting since his hiring. In his city manager report, Murphy said he appreciated the reception and talked about going to a local car a couple of weekends earlier, and the Strawberry Festival in Santa Maria that same weekend.

Murphy also announced in his report that the City Council and the Tourism Advisory Committee will have a joint meeting on Monday, May 22, at 3:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The regular City Council meeting will follow at 6:30.