Gibson and Hill ploy leads to cancellation of APCD meeting
July 24, 2013
The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District cancelled its board meeting scheduled for Wednesday following a late and likely politically strategic decision by Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill not to attend.
Gibson and Hill likely would have been part of the minority voting block if the meeting occurred, due to planned absences of other board members. By choosing not to attend, Gibson and Hill prevented the board from achieving a quorum needed to hold the meeting.
San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, Morro Bay Councilman Noah Smukler and Arroyo Grand Councilman Joe Costello, who each tend to vote with Gibson and Hill, announced prior to this week that neither they, nor their alternates would attend the meeting Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the APCD cancelled the meeting when it determined the board could not reach a quorum. To achieve a quorum, seven of the 12 board members must be present.
The board is currently missing one member due to the death of Supervisor Paul Teixeira, so, entering this week, eight board members planned to attend the meeting.
APCD board clerk Kim Johnson would not indicate when or why Gibson and Hill announced that they planned not attend the meeting. Johnson said district staff completed polling board members Monday on whether or not they planned to attend. She also said that she believed both Gibson and Hill spoke with Air Pollution Control Officer Larry Allen by phone.
Both Gibson and Hill attended Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Wednesday’s APCD agenda included a vote on a proposal to levy $49,420 of air monitoring fees on the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The APCD is currently battling state parks to implement the Oceano Dunes dust rule, which would require the state agency to reduce the amount of particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes to the Nipomo Mesa or pay fines of $1,000 a day to the air district.
If the meeting occurred Wednesday, the board likely would have voted down the proposed fees and may have placed a repeal of the dust rule on a future agenda. The majority of the board members who planned to attend the meeting often vote against proposed APCD regulations. One of the members of that voting block, Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson, recently campaigned to repeal the dust rule.
However, by the time the board meets again in September, Peterson may no longer be a member of the regulatory body.
Earlier this month, Peterson requested that the other members of the Grover Beach council join her in opposition to the implementation of the dust rule. Peterson’s fellow council members chose not to do so and instead decided to consider replacing her on the APCD board.
The Grover Beach council is scheduled to determine whether or not Peterson remains on the APCD board at an August 5 council meeting.
On Tuesday, Peterson sent an email stating Gibson and Hill were working to remove her from the board.
“Both Hill and Gibson have been petitioning the Grover Beach City Council to remove me from the APCD board,” Peterson wrote. “If I am removed as the APCD representative, Hill and Gibson may be able to restore their majority by the next APCD meeting.”