Supervisors vote against controversial water district formation
June 18, 2014
By KAREN VELIE
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors changed its position and voted to only support legislation to form a water district to manage the Paso Robles aquifer if it was based on the democratic principle of one person one vote.
Following a change of position by SLO County Supervisor Frank Mecham, the board voted 3-2 to oppose the bill unless it is amended to change how the district is formed. In its current form, the bill would create a so-called “hybrid” district in which a small group of people would have the power to tax, regulate, and enforce water usage within a North County area with yet-undetermined boundaries.
SLO County Supervisor Debbie Arnold told CalCoastNews she is surprised and delighted at the board’s action.
“I am happy for my constituents,” Arnold said.
Multiple groups including the California Sierra Club, the Farm Bureau and the Teamsters Union have voiced their opposition to the bill because of its voting structure. More than 50 people spoke against Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian’s bill during Tuesday’s board meeting.
After receiving approval by the Assembly, the bill moved on to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee which asked that the bill be amended to allow renters living in the district to have a few seats on the proposed water board. After Achadjian sought approval for the changes from the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors, board president Bruce Gibson responded that prior approvals were sufficient.
Last week, Debbie Arnold derided Gibson’s unilateral move as “bullying” and made a motion that the matter come back before the board. The board then voted unanimously to support Arnold’s motion to have the issue voted on during Tuesday’s meeting after a hesitant Frank Mecham endorsed it.
In two separate votes at Tuesday’s board meeting, supervisors Mecham, Arnold and Caren Ray voted against the bill unless it is amended to have a one person one vote while supervisors Gibson and Adam Hill voted in favor of the bill.
Even so, Achadjian plans to proceed with the bill and ask senators to approve the proposed changes during a Senate Governance and Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, said Ross Buckley, Capitol Director for Achadjian