Portola Valley: Two women now on architecture review board
The gender ratio on Portola Valley's five-member architecture review board has changed to three men and two women from a male-heavy ratio that has prevailed for much of the panel's history.
The Portola Valley Town Council voted unanimously Jan. 11 to reappoint architect Jeff Clark to another four-year term on the Architectural and Site Control Commission (ASCC), and to appoint Megan Koch, an interior designer to her first four-year term?
Ms. Koch, who is also a yoga instructor, has served for a year on an architecture review board in Squaw Valley, and has involved herself in depth with the construction of her home in the Westridge neighborhood, she told the council.
"I'm very passionate about the building process," she said. "I enjoy working in the system and figuring out how to make things work."
Mr. Clark and Ms. Koch were chosen from among five applicants, including general contractor Ralph Lewis, computer scientist and architecture major Thomas P. Moran, and businesswoman Darci R. Reimund, who said in her application letter that she has a deep background in construction and design.
The council interviewed everyone but Ms. Reimund, whose husband Todd Reimund represented her since she was out of town, he said.
Councilman Ted Driscoll was absent from the proceedings.
Council members had to think out loud about candidate qualifications with several candidates in the room.
"I felt like any of them would fit in," said Councilman Jeff Aalfs, who suggested streamlining the discussion by first reappointing Mr. Clark. The council agreed.
During his interview, Mr. Clark responded to a question on difficulties faced by the ASCC. Neighbors too often do not communicate with each other, either because they're not talking or because there's animosity, he said. The ASCC advises the Planning Commission and the Town Council and reviews significant remodeling and building projects in town. Its mission is to preserve the "visual character" of the town by preventing "unsightly or obnoxious" structures, indiscriminate clearing of land, and destruction of trees, according to the town code.
Portola Valley fences, for example, tend to allow animals to pass under or through them, a sign of the town's ethic of blending in with the natural world around it.
Residents have been known to tell the ASCC they won't do something inappropriate to that ethic and then do it anyway. Mr. Clark commended the Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood for taking steps to prevent this practice.
As to the second seat, Councilwoman Ann Wengert paused for several seconds before bringing up the topic of diversity, particularly with respect to women.
Ms. Reimund probably had to be taken out of consideration because she had not been present for an interview, Ms. Wengert said.
"Would two women make a difference?" asked Mayor Maryann Derwin, who in 2006 joined a council of four men. (Ms. Wengert came to the council in 2007.) "I felt (the council) was a little unbalanced," Ms. Derwin said. "I actually felt it was a little better when Ann came aboard."
Laura Chase served on the ASCC between 1991 and 2006, including concurrently with Danna Breen, who has served since 2003. Alexandra Von Feldt was appointed to the ASCC in 2008, joining the Planning Commission a year after her appointment.
Except for Adeline Jessup in the early 1970s, that was it for ASCC women, according to a semi-official town record that lists at least 30 men.
Until 2006, ASCC members could continue to serve indefinitely without reapplying. In 2006, the council instituted four-year terms.