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Ventura County

2 Ex-Candidates Named to Planning Panel

January 23, 2003|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

Two slow-growth candidates who lost at the ballot box in November received a second chance to serve the public this week after their appointments to the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission.

Michael Farris, former chairman of the five-member commission, and English teacher Laura Lee Custodio were approved unanimously Tuesday during the regular adjustment of board and commission memberships after an election.

Farris and Custodio ran on the so-called Certified Slow-Growth slate with current council members Claudia Bill-de la Pena and Bob Wilson Sr.

"With just a few hundred more votes, she would be up here on the council," said Wilson, who nominated Custodio. "I think that speaks volumes about what the people of Thousand Oaks think of her. There's no doubt she'll be an excellent contribution on our Planning Commission."

Councilman Ed Masry, who nominated Farris, got the city in December to issue Farris an apology for removing him from the panel last February.

"I think it's only appropriate that he be reinstated," Masry said earlier. "I think he should be put back in the position he was in when all of this occurred."

Farris, a former Assembly candidate who has a doctorate in space physics, was dismissed along with fellow commissioner Nora Aidukas after they were accused of improperly conferring with then-Councilwoman Linda Parks about a complex land-swap deal.

The trio questioned whether construction of luxury homes on an 8.7-acre parcel near Dos Vientos was prohibited by a 1996 ordinance that protects land designated as parks and open space.

Along with the dismissals, the former council majority accused Parks, now a county supervisor, of trying to influence the commissioners' vote and of violating the state's open-meeting law.

A district attorney's investigation concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

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