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RB Planning Board Seeks to Oust Another Member

The board is expected to vote Wednesday on removing longtime member Robin Kaufman.

Updated 8:20 p.m. Wednesday with a correction. See below.

The Rancho Bernardo Planning Board is considering kicking out member Robin Kaufman on Wednesday amid allegations that she has acted against the interests of the board.

Kaufman, who is also the head of the RB Community Council, asked for and received a delay on the vote which was scheduled for last month's meeting. The board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the RB Swim & Tennis Club, 16955 Bernardo Oaks Dr.

In a letter dated Dec. 13, board Chair Teri Denlinger alleged that Kaufman asked the RB Community Foundation not to award the board a grant—despite voting to apply for the grant—because the group "is not worthy because of compliance issues."

The letter goes on to accuse Kaufman of "continuous disruptive actions" and "argumentative behavior [that] has been considered by many to be acts of bullying."

In a second letter, dated Jan. 4, Denlinger stated that board officers met with Kaufman that day and she said she did ask the foundation not to give the board a grant (paraphrased in the letter) "because the board did not follow proper procedures during the grant application process."

Kaufman, who is entitled to respond to the allegations at Wednesday's meeting, did not address the specific concerns at December's meeting when the vote was initially scheduled to happen, instead asking for a continuance to have more time to craft a response, per board policy.

Still, the meeting and a vote to grant her the continuance gave rise to fierce debate about her role on the board and overall board atmosphere.

"This action warrants immediate dismissal from the board," member Estelle Wolf said, adding that she was one of the people who initially brought forward complaints about the foundation issue. Wolf compared the alleged actions to an employee sabotaging a business.

Denlinger also questioned Kaufman's contributions to the group.

"What has Robin done for this board?" she said.

Kaufman and board member Joe Dirks—who was voted out in late 2011 only to be reelected soon thereafter—often raise questions during and outside of board meetings about compliance with city and board policies.

Denlinger has complained that the constant questions about compliance are a distraction and create a negative atmosphere on the board. The chair regularly insists that open meeting laws and city policies are "guidelines" and not hard-and-fast rules for the board. But city officials and other board members have objected to this interpretation. Past issues have included barring public comment during meetings, voting on items that were not on the agenda without citing an emergency and not posting agendas at least 72 hours before regularly scheduled meetings.

The vote to remove Kaufman was stalled in part because she said board procedures had not been followed in trying to dismiss her, including giving her an opportunity to speak with board officers about the allegations.

While some board members pushed to hold the vote in December anyway, others argued that the board shouldn't rush through questions about procedure and her continuance was granted.

Also:

  • Residents who want to run for a seat on the Planning Board in the upcoming election must have attended at least one meeting. Wednesday's meeting is the last chance to fulfill this requirement for this year's election. See the attached flier for details.

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to note that Joe Dirks was not voted out "last year" but in late 2011.

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