SLO Mayor admits her role in anti-Dalidio development campaign

January 11, 2011


San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx answered more questions Monday following a CalCoastNews exclusive report, published last week, which revealed her involvement in the closely guarded campaign to prevent the development of Ernie Dalidio’s 131 acres of San Luis Obispo farmland.

The CalCoastNews report, titled “State probe casts a shadow on new San Luis Obispo mayor,” exposed the detailed California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) investigation and supporting documentation into the funneling of cash and gifts into the anti-Dalidio campaign, where the state commission fined the major campaign sponsors for 16 illegal maneuvers.

The newly-elected mayor requested the interview and its response on the terms that it would be handled in writing. She later requested that her response be noted on CalCoastNews.

The following are some of the questions that prompted the mayor’s response, which is subsequently provided:

1.  Would you like to re-clarify your involvement in the anti-Dalidio campaign? It would be most clear if you listed it chronologically.

2.  Do you admit you were involved from 2004 through the second election in 2006?

3.  Why did you change your mind about the project as agreed following the negotiations and bargaining agreement around the year 2000?

4.  After everything that has transpired, some people would argue that the project, Dalidio Marketplace, as you and the city had originally negotiated and approved, would have been a better project from the city’s perspective than the proposed project approved in Measure J. Would you agree or disagree?

5.  The FPPC investigation details a paper trail of your involvement in “Save San Luis Obispo” and “No on J”. However, we cannot speak for your motivation. Please explain.

6.  Have you at any time been on the Copelands’ payroll?

7.  If you continue to insist you did not know the Copelands were involved, was it not obvious considering Suzanne Fryer was the vice president of the CCLC and at the same time the Copeland’s corporate attorney?

8.  Some of our readers, who voted for you in your race for mayor, are upset by the disclosure of your involvement in the Save San Luis Obispo and No on Measure J campaigns and are asking for you to step down as mayor, or else they will move to organize a recall election. How do you respond?

9.  If you chose to remain in office do you think it may be necessary to recuse yourself from decisions regarding Copeland and Dalidio business?

10. Do you feel like you accurately represented your true position on future Dalidio development in your campaign for mayor?

The following is Marx’s response provided verbatim:

“My actions regarding the various Dalidio projects have been volunteer, compliant with the law and grounded in my civic commitment to the orderly development and environmental quality of the city as laid out by our general plan update of 1994.

“As you know, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. It also protects freedom of assembly and freedom of association, rights freely exercised during political campaigns. Opposing or supporting government decisions is our right, crucial to the democratic process. The California Constitution gives citizens the right of referendum and initiative, and projects on the Dalidio property have seen both kinds of campaigns.

“My active participation in each campaign in 2005 and 2006 was well known at the time.

“Like the plus or minus 50 percent of people in the city San Luis Obispo, I have opposed several versions of a mall project on the Dalidio property. This does not mean that I am opposed to any development at all on that site. I affirm and have affirmed since 1994 the city’s general plan, which allows 50 percent of that 131 acre (65.5 acres) piece of prime agricultural land to be commercially developed in exchange for preserving 50 percent in agricultural open space (65.5 acres) on site.

“I have also advocated thorough analysis of environmental impacts, for the protection of the community’s quality of life. None of the projects proposed by the developers on that land so far have offered to protect 65.5 acres of that land in agricultural open space.

“My website in the last election stated my position on this issue, which is my position today:

“I believe that any development on the Dalidio property should take place in the city, not in the county. Developers should respect the city’s general plan and devote half of the land to open space, which could include local agricultural food production. They also should do a satisfactory environmental impact report, flood plain analysis and traffic study, so that residents are protected from negative impacts and green house gases are minimized.

“Development must pay for itself, according our general plan. The question of whether the city or the project creates the need for a Prado Road overpass or interchange should be thoroughly dealt with during the circulation element update.”

“You asked whether I was ever hired by the Copelands. The answer is no. I also have not favored any particular developer over any other. The development itself, not who owns it, is what counts for me. For instance, I spoke out against the ‘sweetheart deal’ the city council gave the Copelands regarding the under-market price sale of city property for the Chinatown project. I respect Mr. Dalidio and his property rights.

“You inquired about my participation in the 2002 council subcommittee with John Ewan, which was tasked with the goal of requesting the Board of Supervisors to send the project back to the city and propose a framework for further work and processing. My participation in that subcommittee did not constitute a pledge that I would vote for the project, no matter what.

‘As it turned out, the project submitted in my estimation short-changed open space (offering 54 acres on site) and created unacceptable traffic, flood and other impacts, therefore after deliberation, I voted against it.

“Whether or not, or when, Mr. Dalidio and his partners decide to apply for annexation into the city or stay in the county, of course, is up to them. They could have applied for annexation years ago, but have not done so. Two out of three ownerships in the immediate area have decided to comply with the general plan’s open space requirements and do the necessary environmental work. These two are now annexed into the city.

“I hope that the Dalidio property owners will follow their neighbors’ lead, when they deem the time is right. If they apply, the city will treat their application fairly, just as any other application.

” ‘Here is the relevant text of the land use element of our general plan (see sections 1.12.5 (E) and 8.8) Please note that all of the properties which have successfully annexed into the city have met these requirements.

” ‘1.12.5 Open Space

” ‘Each annexation shall help secure permanent protection for areas designated open space, and for the habitat types and wildlife corridors within the annexation area that are identified in the conservation and open space element. Policies concerning prime agricultural land shall apply when appropriate. The following standards shall apply to the indicated areas:

” ‘A. Irish Hills Area properties shall dedicate land or easements covering an area in the hills at least equal to the area to be developed. (See also hillside planning section 6.2.6.H.)

” ‘B. Margarita Area properties shall dedicate land or easements covering the hills above the elevation designated in the hillside planning section and riparian and wetlands areas as identified in the conservation and open space element. (See also hillside planning section 6.2.6.E.)

” ‘C. Orcutt area properties shall dedicate land or easements covering the Santa Lucia foothills and Mine Hill, as identified in the conservation and open space element.

” ‘D. Airport area properties shall secure protection for any on-site resources as identified in the conservation and open space element. These properties, to help maintain the greenbelt, shall also secure open space protection for any contiguous, commonly owned land outside the urban reserve. If it is not feasible to directly obtain protection for such land, fees in lieu of dedication shall be paid when the property is developed, to help secure the greenbelt in the area south of the city’s southerly urban reserve line.

” ‘E. Dalidio Area properties (generally bounded by Highway 101, Madonna Road, and Los Osos Valley Road) shall dedicate land or easements for the approximately one-half of each ownership that is to be preserved as open space.

” ‘8.8 Dalidio-Madonna-McBride Area This approximately 180-acre area of prime farm land bounded by Madonna Road, Highway 101, Central Coast Plaza, and Prefumo Creek is in three ownerships. The city intends to preserve at least one-half of this signature working agricultural landscape at the southern gateway to San Luis Obispo it existed in 1994.” ‘

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Can you not see that these questions fail to meet any standard of journalistic integrity? Bloggers and Fox news get by with slanting questions like this all the time — obviously taking one side or the other — but CCN at one time was credited with being as good or better than other local professional journalists. Not anymore. Karen obviously has an agenda here:

“Do you admit…”

“If you continue to insist…”

“Would you like to re-clarify…”

“If you chose to remain in office…”

“Do you feel like you accurately represented your true position…”

And then there’s this:

“We cannot speak for your motivation.”

Well Karen, clearly you are trying to do exactly that.

These are the questions of a journalist who is trying to make sure there is no wiggle room. I think they are well worded. The fact that it is obvious that Marx wiggled anyway is made obvious from the questions. So sorry Turquoise, you are wrong.

Oh what a web we weave when we try to deceive

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry when we try to deceive