Featured Image: (From left) Director of Community Development Brenda Wisneski on Nov. 28 presents outgoing Planning Commission Chair John Gabbard with a commemorative gavel, representing his time chairing the commission. Photo: Breeana Greenberg
By Breeana Greenberg
Ashok Dhingra will lead the Dana Point Planning Commission in 2023 as its chairperson after the group set its new leadership for the year on Monday, Dec. 12, and assigned Commissioner Mary Opel as vice chair.
The vote to reorganize the commission’s leadership during Monday night’s meeting came after outgoing Chair John Gabbard stepped down from his position on Nov. 28, ahead of being sworn into elected office as Dana Point’s new city councilmember.
Following the vote on Monday, Dhingra thanked his fellow commissioners “for all confidence they’ve shown in making me the chair.”
“I want to wish the commissioners, staff and everyone here a very happy holiday season and look forward to a very happy New Year 2023,” Dhingra continued.
Gabbard, who chaired the commission from April through November, has served on the Planning Commission since March 2021.
After running unopposed in his district for City Council, Gabbard was appointed to represent Dana Point’s District 1. Gabbard was sworn in during the Dec. 6 council meeting, officially beginning his term in office.
“It has been a great joy to be a member of the commission,” Gabbard said during the late-November meeting. “You guys do the lords work every single day you’re here and I just am thankful that I’ve gotten to work with each one of you.”
“It’s been, both on the commission and obviously staff as well, you guys have been great, so welcoming and so cordial, it’s been a joy to be here with you,” Gabbard continued.
Fellow commissioners chimed in, congratulating Gabbard on his new position on City Council.
“I just want to say congratulations, you’ll be missed here, but you certainly won’t be far away,” Commissioner Eric Nelson said. “It’s been a pleasure to get to know you over this short period of time that you’ve been here.”
“You’ve risen to greatness and I’m actually looking forward to having you serve the city in a different capacity,” Nelson continued. “You’re level headed, you have good insights and you’re a great leader.”
Opel echoed Nelson’s comments, adding that she wished Gabbard luck.
Dana Point City Council is scheduled to consider applicants to fill Gabbard’s vacant seat at the Planning Commission during its Jan. 17 meeting.
According to city staff, there are currently two applicants but the period to apply has not closed. Applications must be filed with the city clerk by Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m. For more information or to obtain an application, visit the City of Dana Point’s website .
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com