John Wallace steps down from sanitation district

February 21, 2013
John Wallace

John Wallace

Amid allegations of mismanagement, South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Administrator John Wallace announced his retirement at Wednesday’s board meeting.

During a closed session to discuss his performance, Wallace said he would be resigning after 27 years with the district.

Wallace is the chief administrator of the district and also owner and president of the Wallace Group, a private engineering consulting firm located in San Luis Obispo that receives between $50,000 and $80,000 a month from the district for a variety of engineering services.

The sanitation district, which serves the residents of the Oceano Community Service District, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach, is governed by a three person board consisting of one representative from each community. Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson had recently asked for a complete audit of the district’s finances and a review of Wallace’s performance.

In October, the state levied a $1.1 million fine against the district because of a 2010 sewage spill determined to be caused by Wallace’s mismanagement. The district is facing additional fines for three releases of improperly treated sewage into the Pacific Ocean during the second half of 2012.

The district board later appointed an interim administrator, retired engineer Paul Karp.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Here’s a link to the most recent WQ/EPA report that details further, ongoing fecal coliform violations, as well as a host of other issues with the Sanitation District:

The amount of times this plant is actually causing a threat to the public health is pretty scary. This situation needs to be resolved immediately before someone gets seriously sick from swimming in water that has raw human feces in it.

It looks like the plant is literally falling to pieces. How much money did John Wallace make over the last ten years engineering this mess?

Looking at this pictures I really have to wonder why the San Dist Board would even contemplate for a second keeping John Wallace as District Engineer.

Ten Years? actually since 1985. District employees told the media Wallace visited the plant maybe 2 or 3 times a year until the shit hit the fan a few years back. Granted Wallace was general manager but the brunt of this responsibility is on who is there every day, and were not talking about Barlogio. This would be the Shift supervisor who has been there for some 15 years. He is the individual who has been reportedly disciplined twice for utilizing untrained temps, yet he continues to do so in defiance of the law. He is responsible for the untrained, unlicensed temp helpers who he blamed for shutting off the chlorine pump causing yet another discharge of partially treated sewage. He is the one there every day directing the other operators on what to do, and how to do it. He is the one who refused to talk to State inspectors during the investigations of fraud and violations.

Ms. Peterson and Mr. Gurrero, You have done a great service to the citizens and tax payers of 5 cities by pressuring Wallace to retire. One cannot stress the importance that you finish this job of ending this culture of corruption and costly mistakes by terminating the shift supervisor. The public, our beaches and atmosphere deserve far better than this individual who has no respect for the laws or the ability to competently operate this facility.

John Wallace did not RETIRE from the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District as the Administrator – He quit before he got fired!

John Wallace still administers other similar districts in this and other counties.

John Wallace still heads up the Wallace Group, an engineering firm that has many tentacles in all aspects of our local government.


In my opinion, this comes as too little, too late…He’s done far too much damage!

isn’t that how it works?

So Wallace steps down after years of betraying the public trust. Now the question remains is why any reputable agency or person would do business with him at all? In all likelihood he sees the end coming and elected to bow out before he was forced out. I remember one article referencing a million plus dollar fine, then following this 3 more violations occurred. So again, he is bowing out before things just get too bad. Good job calcoast, turn on the lights and watch them run!

I wonder when the dots will link Wallace back to all the corrupt managers, directors, council members and board members?

QUOTING MsMINIVER: “Now the question remains is why any reputable agency or person would do business with him at all?”

You’d be surprised how many local government agencies still pay John Wallace and The Wallace Group to screw them over.

One of them is Avila Community Services District has John Wallace for its general manager, and Mikey Seitz for its district counsel. Then there is the perennial screwee, Los Osos CSD, which also has JW as district engineer, and has for many years.

It is mainly smaller local government agencies now who are contracting with Wallace/TWG. However, if you look at the smaller agencies, you will see JW and Mikey Seitz are still doing quite well.

P.S. Of course, JW/TWG still contract with crony-led local government agencies, such as the City of Arroyo Grande (crony: Tony Ferrara, also a board member for the SSLOCSD).

For instance, in the Arroyo Grande cash disbursement log submitted to the board on 2/12/2013, The Wallace Group was written checks (on 01/08/2013 and 01/07/2013) totaling $13,641.12.

Do I smell a chapter 7 in the air?

Unfortunately that is not likely unless there are major successful lawsuits against his firm. I am sure that Wallace is not hurting personally and (so far) this only affects his personal income not that of his firm. I am also sure that TWG has adequate resources to survive the loss of one contract — even the substantial one that SSLOCSD has should they either void it due to violation of standards or let it lapse when it expires.