LAFCO denies Pismo Beach project

March 15, 2012

Bruce Gibson

The San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) denied a request to annex a 182-acre proposed development, known as Los Robles Del Mar, into Pismo Beach on Thursday primary because of an alleged lack of water to support the project.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor and LAFCO Chairman Bruce Gibson led the charge against the future development of 300 homes saying that state water is unreliable while also promoting the controversial idea that seawater intrusion has put the groundwater supply at  risk.

Following a 2009 report of seawater intrusion contaminating the unincorporated community of Oceano’s groundwater supply, numerous local agencies have used the information to promote or stop projects based on the idea that sea water intrusion has made ground water throughout the basin, which includes Pismo Beach, unreliable.

However, for more than a year, Oceano Community Services District board members have been saying reports of seawater intrusion are nothing but propaganda and that they have studies to back their claim.

Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco refused to vote against the project reminding the other commission members about an earlier meeting where they had denied the project and asked the developer to secure state water and bring the proposed annexation back to LAFCO.

The developer had secured water rights from a neighboring property owner before coming for a second time in front of the commission.

In a vote of 5-2, commissioners again voted against the project.

The development of Los Robles Del Mar has divided many in the South County beach community, primarily those for or against developing Price Canyon.

San Luis Obispo County 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill is currently up for reelection. Hill’s campaign has received considerable support from Gibson, the current chair of LAFCO and the most vocal opponent of the annexation.


Sea water intrusion in Pismo Beach: bad. Sea water intrusion in Los Osos: who cares! Certainly not Bruce Gibson, my favorite hypocrit.


LAFCO is exactly what it sounds like. An unelected government entity that votes to protect each and every one of members voters. A laugh Company.



LAFCO is an elected board, with the exception of one member from the general public who is elected by the board.

It has always had a very broadbased makeup. I didn’t care for this decision either, but don’t blame it on LAFCO.


Excuse me, but when did you ever vote to put someone on the LAFCO board? Yes it’s made up of elected people, but not a single one of them garnered a public vote to sit on that board.

People in Los Osos have a very good understanding of LAFCO ask one of them.


I vote for a potential LAFCO member every time I vote for a city councilman or supervisor.

At the same time I’m also voting for a member of SLOGOG.

Then they appoint members of various planning commissions, etc.It’s the way the system is designed.

The reason local government is becoming so dysfunctional these days is because of too much citizen decision making on the micro level, not because there isn’t enough.

We claim we need to pay our local public employees what I think are extravagant wages so that we can “attract the brightest and the best decision makers.” Then after we’ve hired them, we don’t let them manage or decide a single thing. Every project goes out to a community group of one variety or another to “let the stakeholders weigh in” When that’s complete the project comes before the board and final decisions become a popularity contest.

A benign form of mob rule.


I disagree that the issue is that there is too much public participation. The public should be allowed to participate in the decision of any issue that impacts them.

You are also wrong about public employees not being able to decide anything. The BOS, on a regular basis, makes decisions that the rest of us have to follow. Some of these are very conflict-of-interest laden.

Other local government agencies regularly make decisions for us, many of which suit the best interests of their cronies first and, if they represent the public’s best interests at all, it is only by bizarre coincidence.


I don’t think developers and their backers were protected.


Huh? Protected from what, what do you mean?


I was responding to Vagabond’s post, 12:17 PM, to which the posts below it are responding.


The vote by LAFCO today was the right one. The developer obtained an insufficient amount of state water that was already in Pismo Water supply books, this wasn’t new water. It was clear, there wasn’t adequate, sustainable and reliable water for this project.

If your going to bother posting an article on this issue, at least try to do some research and set aside your obvious bias. It just reduces credibility for Cal Coast News when an article like this is posted.


The total water provided 100 AFY was not sufficient for a project of this size. RRM changed their water analysis from 2008 to fit the water provided for this. The new water report showed that if the world were perfect and there were no droughts, state water shortages, everyone conserved (not just this project but the all the residents of Pismo Beach) and Pismo’s water recycling was up and running maybe just maybe there would be enough water. But, as a resident of Pismo Beach, I’m not comfortable with creating another Paso Robles or Pismo Robles. Duane Picanco lack of rationale for his support for this just verified in my mind why Paso Robles is experiencing problems ie increased water bills, lack of city funds to provide adequate police protection and is a classic example of uncontrolled growth where the Fiscal Analysis of these projects failed to produce the revenue claimed. I certainly don’t want that for Pismo Beach.


At 0.33 AF/Y/residence, it might be sufficient, if a good many of the homes were condos, the lots were very small, there was no lawn allowed (and there could be no lawn in the future), only drought-tolerant plants were used in the landscape, no sprinklers were to be allowed anywhere on the development, and if the project had very stringent regulations, for specifically defined water waste.

The problem is that compliance would depend on the residents and landscape maintenance company that tends to the common area. The HOA would contract with the cheapest gardener they could get, which would be a blow-and-mow with no experience in landscape water efficiecy, who would mismanage the landscape irrigation, etc., etc.

In addition, if the water to be used is State Water Project water, water delivery would be unreliable and it would be a public health risk to allow development with an unsecured water supply.


What in the article indicates bias?

There is a quite thorough article linked, below the article in this folder, about the faux saltwater intrusion and other water issues. What other issues would you expect to be covered?


This is a good example of why this article is lacking. You just don’t understand. There’s much more to this than salt water intrusion.


And other issues, including development and water needs, are discussed in the article that has a title with the word “saltwater” in it.


Just for clarification…it was a brokered water transfer of contracted deliver form the State Water Project?

If that is the case, the certainly the project should not have been approved. As I posted previously, the SWP has stated that it will only be able to fulfill 60% (at best) of the contracted water from the SWP. This year it will be 50% or less secondary to the Sierra snow-pack water content being only 30% of “average.”

Indeed, ANY residential development should be based on receiving NO water from the State Water Project.

According to the Stanford University News, a 6.5 earthquake could severely damage the Delta levee system, immediately stopping ANY water from being delivered from the SWP.

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake could severely damage the San Francisco Bay Delta levee system and cut off vital water supplies for millions of Californians, according to findings presented by a panel of experts at a May 10 press conference in the Blume Earthquake Engineering Center.

There has been a deafening silence from California media, in many regions, regarding the permanent decrease in SWP deliveries, as well as the risk to ending SWP delivery by an earthquake as low as 6.5.

Gibson made the right decision. Picanco took the weiner’s way out because he is running for Mayor again.

The Nipomo residents who are being forced into the Santa Maria water line project are being fooled by the NCSD, which is not being honest about what they are buying.

NCSD has contracted to bring over a certain amount of water. They will be charged for it, whether it is delivered or not. Some of the water is supposed to be from the SWP, with groundwater from the SM groundwater basin making up some of the rest of it. The SM GW basin is connected to the GW basin underlying Nipomo Mesa. Will the Nipomo residents end up paying themselves into bankruptcies for water that will come from the same GW basin they are currently using?


When watching Picanco I feel that he really doesn’t understand the water issue. The rest of the board get it. Even Vardis, who also voted to annex this property gets it. Vardis understands the water he just wants to carry on the legacy of Pismo hearting developers even if it means running out of water, bottle necking traffic and having a high home vacancies rates. But when hearing Picanco’s views he really just doesn’t get it. He really doesn’t understand hydrology and other technical things. I’d be really surprised if he really reads the reports/studies with any understanding of what he’s reading. He understands that a developer wants to develop his land and that he should be able to do so no matter what and that’s about all he gets. He doesn’t appear to stay focused and he’s rather cranky. I honestly hope that someone good runs against him, not just for poor Paso but for LAFCO as well, his vote has the power to affect the entire county.


The project as planned is terrible and the LAFCO did the right thing, It happens.


Aside from the fact that water is a huge issue here, the traffic generated on Oak Park would put us back to the time when the congestion was unbearable. That situation took many years to partially correct, and it’s still a tricky intersection. If something HAS to be built on this property, estate size view lots are warranted more than a high density nightmare.


The traffic study was highly flawed. You’re right it would be a nightmare. Caltrans has written several letters saying that at this point the traffic can’t be mitigated. The 101 through Pismo is the busiest stretch of hwy/fwy in the county as it is if this was to go through then it would be at a level of service of F, like school it’s the worse grade you get. As you said, Oak Park is already a mess during rush hours. For some reason the LAFCO doesn’t seem to care about the traffic, they only cared about the water. I believe that they trust the terrible traffic study..

The property is currently zoned in the county to build between 18-28 homes, no one objects to that.


“The property is currently zoned in the county to build between 18-28 homes, no one objects to that.”

I didn’t know that. Seems much more logical, all things considered.


Not if they don’t have a secure water supply.


Water takes top priority, period. It is a public health issue if sufficient water cannot be delivered to residents.

if the water rights the developer bought was from an unused contracted amount of water from the STate Water Project, there is a good reason to suspect that it won’t be able to be delivered.


There are more and more times during the day when the overpass is at it’s max waiting for the light by AJ Spurs. Seems like more traffic is coming down Branch and turning left to go over the overpass. Did the opening of InNOut, Hampton Inn, and Petco create this extra traffic? Imagine how 300 additional homes would impact that intersection.


The traffic study didn’t include those businesses that you listed as well as few others which is another reason why that the traffic study was flawed.


No doubt I’ll get booted off for voicing my opinion on this. But I’ll give it a try anyway. This story is one sided, talk about ax grinding. It’s very clear that you don’t like Mr. Gibson and Mr. Hill. This issue has nothing to do with Mr. Hill, why bring him up? It appears that you couldn’t resist making it all look very nefarious. Hill had NOTHING to do with this, he’s not on the LAFCO board and Bruce Gibson did a great job at being objective and fair.

“Following a 2009 report of seawater intrusion contaminating the unincorporated community of Oceano’s groundwater supply, numerous local agencies have used the information to promote or stop projects based on the idea that sea water intrusion has made ground water throughout the basin, which includes Pismo Beach, unreliable”

Where did you get this information? Pismo used to pump their ground water, as stated at the meeting today, when they were pumping the ground water there were indications that Pismo was causing salt water intrusion. As soon as they stopped using it, the aquifer filled back up and the salt water went away. Even the city admits this. Do you think Pismo stopped using this cheaper form of water because they like paying more for water? You have simplified this issue so much that it makes it look silly.

“The development of Los Robles Del Mar has divided many in the South County beach community, primarily those for or against developing Price Canyon.”

What in the heck does this mean? This project has NOTHING to do with the Price Canyon developement. How on earth has this divided many in this area? If anything it has brought people together. That was such a silly thing to say, where did you hear this, was this simply fabricated? The room was packed today, standing room only, probably a couple of hundred people. Other than Pismo city staff, not *1* *ONE* *UNO* person spoke in favor of this project. There is NO division. What type of research did you do? Other than the city staff and I guess some poster here ‘Mr. Holly’ (whoever he is), there as been absolutely NO support for this project. I challenge you to find supporters (of course other than developers and the city).

“Gibson, the current chair of LAFCO and the most vocal opponent of the annexation.”

You are so wrong about Gibson, have you been following this at all? Up until these last two meetings Gibson was leaning towards the developement, I know this first hand. BG told some of us last year that wanted this to go through, we were very worried about his vote. He as not been the most vocal opponent, that’s simply not true. He opposed LRDM these last two meeting because it was shown factually that there’s simply not enough water to support the developments. He’s a very smart man, he can read and interpret the water reports very accurately.

There are a few reasons regarding water that caused this project to be denied. You failed to mention that one of the main reasons it failed was because when calculating how much water was needed for this project, one source of water that they were relying on was recycled water to re-charge and stabilize the aquifer which in turn would help ward off salt water intrusion. After 20 years Pismo still hasn’t set up a real plan or initiated anything to put water recycling in place. The city doesn’t even have the funding to start water re-cycling. There is much more to this, it’s much more complicated then this and it’s much more deep then just a few swipes at Hill and Gibson.


Good grief, could you be anymore obsequious? Do you keep a bust of him on your dining table?


I’m curious about your credentials, Maxfusion. Dr. Gibson is a geophysicist. Perhaps he deserves a little respect for his intelligence and knowledge. We are lucky to have a man of his caliber on our BOS.


Max’s statement was not directed at Gibson, but, rather, for the idolatry of a poster for a politician she considers to be her BFF, which produces bizarre overreactions.


Her/his BFF? Oh my gosh I feel like I’m in an episode of the old show Green Acres and I’m trying to communicate with Mr. Haney.

Mary, you might find this hard to believe but a lot of people respect Mr. Gibson, he’s a very intelligent man. Why do you want to insult another poster for respecting the man.


I respect Gibson. I think he’s brave to have taken the stand he did on this project. Making that decision came with some risk.

I have no issues with Gibson, other than he happens to be on the BOS, which makes some incredibly bad (for the people) decisions. But he’s just one of the supes, and one person can only do so much.

I just don’t see the bias in the article. It seems very straightforward to me. I think it gave him considerable credit for standing up to a developer.

It is your overreaction to anything that is not fawning praise of Gibson that is causing the problem.

As a supporter, you gain him no credit.


Please see MaryMalone’s post on 3/16 at 1:43 pm.




What he says publicly and what he says otherwise may be different. The public cannot rely on what he says privately because they do not have access to that information.

I agree with you that the development project had flaws. TDealing with the increased traffice is one of them. I also believe that there is simply no more water available for new development.

An article in the LATimes today indicated that, although most don’t know about it, there is has been a lot of “fracking” oil drilling in California for many, many years. This puts at risk the aquifers that are still able to provide water. Even if the fracking was stopped today, the fracking that has been done will continue to put the aquifers at risk. It also puts us at risk for earthquakes.

The State Water Project has said flat out that SWP water delivery is unreliable. it will only be able to provide, on average, 60% of what has been contracted for by its contractee agencies. This year it will only deliver, at the most, 50% of what has been contracted to be delivered.

It is obvious that Gibson is one of your sacred cows, but, really, I think you are oversensitive to any comment made about him, and your other sacred cows.


I just don’t get why this article and some of the posters are making B. Gibson the topic of this story.


I think the argument can be made that Gibson is the most powerful person who voted against the project. That brings focus to him more than others. It is just human nature.

If Hill, Patterson and President Obama went to a tittybar, who do you think would gain the most focus?


No doubt I’ll get booted off for voicing my opinion on this.

moderation is not the topic the replies that mentioned it have been deleted.

on the other hand readers are more interested in what you think about the article than what you imagine about other posters. thank you


C’mon, Pismo needs to build 300 homes. Just look at the demand. An additional 8 years of inventory will only bring down neighboring property values another 10-20%.

Mr. Holly

So what’s new Bruceeee Boy? Follow the rules and or requests and they still turn you down. Great for business.The next election is really building up some excitement. Will the voters keep these slugs in office or will they vote for change.

Duane Picanco finally has done something right. Maybe now that he was able to blow off a little steam he can go back over the Hill (not Adam) and take care of business in Paso Robles.


Do you know anything about this? Obviously not. Obviously you were slanted by this biased story. Mr. Gibson was 100% spot on, he did the right thing. We were lucky that Picanco stayed away for the entire meeting. If you had half a clue then you’d know that it was proven by an outside group that studied the water that there’s not enough water for this project. It’s people like you and Picanco that would let us run out of water to favor the developers.


The next step will be for the developer to wail that he’s losing (or already lost) money on this project. Apparently he didn’t do his homework and see that water has always been an issue in California beach communities. I have no sympathy as there is nothing that says that the developer is guaranteed a profit. Ya pay yer money and takes yer chances…that’s how capitalism works. Obviously the current residents don’t want to pay for an expensive water source to benefit a developer…what a shock!


True, water has always been an issue in California coastal communities.

But that is only half of the “issue” story, the other half being additional growth.

Water scarcities, real or perceived, becomes the perfect tool to control growth.

Simply saying “State water is unreliable” without reciting the facts to back it up is misleading and untrue. Bruce knows that but he also knows that the rest of us will never take the time to learn more either. Most of the members of WRAC who make major water policy decisions don’t under understand it either.

Bruce’s decision is a shameless gamble for support for Hill’s reelection. It’s also a gamble that may backfire. We’ll see.


That’s rediculous, Gibson has a thorough understand of water but it doesn’t matter, there was an independent company that came in went over Pismo’s water study, it was a black and white decision, either the water is there or it isn’t and simply isn’t there. What ‘facts’ are you referring to? Were you at the meeting? Have you read the water study. Again, what does this have to do with Hill? My gosh the way you people go after him on a story that has nothing to do with him caused me to empathy for him. Maybe he’s just another victim of this mob thing. Again, Hill is not on the board. Don’t forget, Gibson’s not the only member on the LAFCO.


What was the name of the independent company?


I know that I will kill this name, maybe I can look up the correct spelling later but I’ll give it a go. The Shibatani Group. The original study was done by a company that the city hired. Due to so many questions with that report that just didn’t add up, last Jan 19 th the county had Shibatani come in and check over the cities figures. I spoke with Mr. Shibatani, he seemed to be very fair. But even without Shibatani many of us including everyone except Vardis from Pismo and Picanco from Paso could read that the water wouldn’t work. But the county was trying to work with Pismo so that is why they hired this outside group.

It wasn’t just the state water that didn’t add up. I won’t bring up the SWI because I understand that we have difference of opinion on that. But the city was required to have a water recycling program in place, that recycled water was on paper counted as usable water. The city isn’t set up for recycling water and it doesn’t have the money to set it up.


If you took the time to research the facts and read the water report, you would know that they were of record instead of using this as a sounding board for your own political agenda. Remember the vote was 5-2. BTW, do work for Cal Coast News?


It is a well-known fact that state water is unreliable. The State Water Project said so itself in its 2009 required every-two-years report on the reliability of delivery of SWP water. In fact, the SWP states flat-out that it will, in the future, be able to deliver, at best, 60% of the water it has been contracted to deliver.

This is not arcane news. The seriously low level of snow-pack water content has compelled the SWP to issue a warning to its contractees that they will only get 50% of the water for which they have contracted with the SWP to be delivered.

State Water Project Reliability Report — 2009

LATimes: “Water content in snow pack 30% of normal”


If the project was denied because of water issues, there is more than enough evidence to show that LAFCO acted responsibly.


The story wasn’t biased. I agree with Gibson, and think he acted responsibly.

I believe you are creating problems by insisting that, not only everyone agree with His Wonderfulness, Supervisor Gibson, but that they also agree with your assessment of bias in the article.


“Follow the rules and or requests and they still turn you down.” Anybody have a clue what this guy is talking about?


I have no idea as to what he’s talking about,, and neither does he.


Try reading the article. You and TQ are amazingly alike.

…Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco refused to vote against the project reminding the other commission members about an earlier meeting where they had denied the project and asked the developer to secure state water and bring the proposed annexation back to LAFCO.

The developer had secured water rights from a neighboring property owner before coming for a second time in front of the commission.

In a vote of 5-2, commissioners again voted against the project….”


Gibson did the responsible thing by voting it down, especially if the source of the water rights he bought was from the State Water Project.


Seawater intrusion is a vital component of the green weenie grand scam. Want an example of just how far the weenies will go to push their nonsense? But shame on me, after all they’re “saving the planet”. Just ask them.


Those links have nothing to do with salt water intrusion. SWI has nothing to do with climate change and it’s not a ‘green’ thing. Obviously you don’t understand SWI.


Salt water intrusion is part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s very large “green” agenda–clean water, protection of ecosystems, etc. His links were to show some far fetched “green” ideas.


I know what he was trying to demonstrate but it’s ridiculous. This is not a green thing or a right or left thing. Even the very most right winged person with a tad bit of knowledge understands the FACT that salt water intrusion is a hazard to not just our area but is an issue for a large part of southern Ca. as well as the valley. It’s not an opinion it’s a fact. Geez, why does it always have to come to this crazy nonesense (rhetorical).


I actually agree with you on this development. Lack of water and traffic should have ko’d this idea a long time ago. No one benefits except the developer and the city coffers of Pismo.

I actually think that Cal Trans and traffic studies should be enough to stop developers in their tracks. In Paso, Cal Trans is ignored because they produce traffic facts that the city doesn’t like, but Cal Trans is the one who’s correct. That’s why we have a traffic mess developing on 46W near the 46/101 interchange. Picanco is part of that group ignoring traffic studies and Cal Trans advice.


A friend of mine was told by a Caltrans rep that cities like Paso and Pismo ignore them because they know that Caltrans doesn’t have the funding to fight them or sue the cities when they screw up. So basicly Caltrans has no authority at this point other than to write a few letters. I feel it’s despicable that they would ignore Caltrans, if anyone understands our roads it’s Caltrans. Cities that do this don’t have their citizens best interest in mind when they do this.


Oh yes I do, and the links speak to the mindset of the green weenie. Mr. Gibson is an end justifies the means “green” politician. Unfortunately, as I’ve stated in the past, his “philosophy” is the petri dish for totalitarianism. Research environmentalism and the rise of the National Socialists German Workers Party. You’ll find some interesting parallels.


The ideological roots of fascism have been traced to the 1880s, and in particular the fin de siècle theme of that time.[72][73] The theme was based on revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society and liberal democracy.[74] The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism and vitalism.[75] The fin-de-siècle mindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.[74] The fin-de-siècle intellectual school of the 1890s — including Gabriele d’Annunzio and Enrico Corradini in Italy; Maurice Barrès, Edouard Drumont, and Georges Sorel in France; Paul de Lagarde, Julius Langbehn, and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck in Germany — saw social and political collectivity as more important than individualism and rationalism. They considered the individual as only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals.[74] They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.[74] They saw modern society as one of mediocrity, materialism, instability, and corruption.[74] They denounced big-city urban society as being merely based on instinct and animality, and without heroism.[74]

The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including Darwinian biology; Wagnerian aesthetics; Arthur de Gobineau’s racialism; Gustave Le Bon’s psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson.””