No New Faces for Design Review


Three seated Design Review Board members were re-appointed to the board and one incumbent let go in paper balloting by the City Council on Tuesday.


Retired realtor Ilse Lenschow, residential design engineer Ken Sadler and former Newport Beach city attorney Robin Zur Schmiede will continue as members of the panel, which reviews building plans and makes recommendations to the city’s planning commission.


Board member and architect Leslie LeBon was the only current member who did not receive confirmation, along with two first-time applicants, home-builder Ken Fischbeck and auto-designer Roger Zrimac. LeBon was supported by votes from Mayor Elizabeth Pearson and councilman Kelly Boyd.  Fischbeck and Zrimac did not receive any votes.


Appointments to the five-member board are for two-year, unlimited terms.  The board previously required an alternate member due to weekly meetings, but that position was eliminated Tuesday since the panel’s services are now needed just twice a month due to a slowdown in construction.


LeBon, a five-year member, also served on a task force to improve DRB practices. “My professional opinion has evolved,” LeBon told the council. “But my decisions have always been professional, straightforward and respectful. As a design professional, I carefully review all plans and drawings.” LeBon said her strength was reducing contentiousness between neighbors and property developers, noting that “my experience and temperament have enabled me to do so successfully.”


“Allowing construction without destruction,” Lenschow, a 14-year DRB member who received unanimous approval by the council, sees the design review process as a balancing act.  “Someone’s dream home should not become someone else’s nightmare,” she said, adding that she strives for petitioners to experience “minimum bruising to their egos and their wallets.”


First-time applicant Fischbeck described himself as “probably” one of the most qualified applicants due to his focus on sustainable materials. He realizes people mistrust developers. “I don’t have any hidden agendas,” said Fischbeck, who contributed $300 to incumbent Councilmember Kelly Boyd’s re-election bid, according to July 1-Sept. 30 financial records, though he received no votes from any council member.  “We’ve had a lot of contractors who’ve sat on the board.  I’m no different; I’d just like to help out.”

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