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13 apply for Menlo Park Planning Commission

Chamber CEO, high speed rail consultant among applicants

The number of open seats on the Planning Commission has jumped from two to three. Two were not a surprise -- commissioners Katie Ferrick and John Kadvany have reached the end of their four-year terms -- but colleague Peipei Yu quietly stepped down after the Sept. 24 meeting.

According to city officials, Ms. Yu is moving out of Menlo Park. The former commissioner, appointed in January 2011, said her growing family was unable to find a big enough home in Menlo Park, and turned to Los Altos instead. She expressed disappointment at leaving the Planning Commission behind.

Both Mr. Kadvany and Ms. Ferrick are seeking reappointment. Joining them on the list of applicants: retired SLAC physicist James Clendenin, attorney Michael Holy, architect Raymond Neal, architect John Onken, middle school teacher Keith Rocha, sales consultant Shannon Thoke and Google manager Shawn Thompson.

Other names may ring a bell: Public relations specialist Katherine Strehl has served on the transportation and housing commissions, and also served as a consultant for the California High Speed Rail Authority. Fellow applicant Honor Huntington, retired from working as a chief financial officer, has volunteered on the city's finance and audit and budget committees. Community activist Don Brawner also applied, although staff noted he didn't respond to inquiries about when he'd be available for an interview.

And then there's Fran Dehn, Chamber of Commerce CEO. "As a long-term resident, homeowner and business representative I have a vested interest in the architectural 'look and feel' of Menlo Park, my community," she wrote on her application. Ms. Dehn would like to see the city "evolve with a planned and compliant approach" that balances its history with "an inspired future direction." She didn't respond to an Almanac inquiry about how she would handle conflicts of interest between her chamber job and the commission.

The City Council plans to interview most of the applicants from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2. The final appointments will be made during a regular council meeting in upcoming weeks.

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