August Names 'Activist' Anne Pica to Planning Commission

A resident who spent much of the last year speaking out against members of the previous Menifee City...

A resident who spent much of the last year speaking out against members of the previous Menifee City Council will now work alongside the reconfigured City Council as a member of the Planning Commission.

Anne Pica, who voiced displeasure with the previous council during the public comments section of virtually every council meeting, was named to the Planning Commission Wednesday night by council member Greg August. Pica lives in District 1 (Sun City) and was a strong supporter of August in his successful bid to unseat Sue Kristjansson as District 1 representative on the council.

Each council member is allowed to select one member of the Planning Commission to serve the length of his or her term. Once a council member leaves the council, the corresponding planning commissioner's term expires. Thus Chad Warren and Bill Zimmerman, named to the commission by former council members Kristjansson and Darcy Kuenzi, have vacated their seats.

They have been replaced by Lesa Sobek, who was selected by new Mayor Scott Mann, and Pica. Chris Thomas was reappointed to his seat on the commission by Wallace Edgerton, who was re-elected to the council.

Pica organized a group to oppose cityhood in 2008. Two years later, she formed Citizens for Fair Representation, a group petitioning for the city to be divided into four districts, each with one guaranteed city council representative. She secured enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot in 2010, and voters approved it.

Since then, Pica has been a fixture at council meetings, primarily questioning the conduct of Kuenzi and Kristjansson. She spoke often of her struggles with city officials regarding her frequent calls to City Hall and requests for public documents, also requesting that council members' emails be made public.

But this is a new-look council -- one with which Pica agrees on most issues. As for her reputation with some as a critic? Pica sees it differently.

"I'm not a critic when I'm telling you what's wrong and it's not being changed," Pica said. "Yes, I was against cityhood, but when Menifee became a city, I'm the one who walked the streets and planned the four districts. What more could someone do for the city?

"I've always worked for the city -- once it got incorporated. I hope to bring in development -- but I want good development, not just a bunch of rooftops."

Pica said rather than being a critic, she would call herself an activist.

August said his criteria in selecting a planning commissioner was "someone I know and have worked with, someone I trust, a person who can work with others. Someone who's not anti-development but cautious about development."

Pica and Sobek will take their places on the Planning Commission at its next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8.