Why I oppose the Arroyo Grande City Charter

October 20, 2014
Jim Hill

Jim Hill


The passage of Arroyo Grande City Charter, Measure C-14 on city ballots, would make two fundamental changes from the general law requirements that are not in residents’ interests.

First, as explicitly stated in Section 302 of the charter, the city would no longer be required to contract for city-funded construction projects under “prevailing wage” requirements. In this case, prevailing wages are the customary wages in the area for construction trade jobs. Middle class head of household jobs that are the backbone of the economy.

This provision may be barred under a state law (Labor Code section 1782) that is currently under appeal; but in the event, the state could still withhold funding from the city for any and all projects to encourage prevailing wage compliance.

The second issue is not explicitly stated, but is even more dangerous. Section 100 gives the city full authority over “municipal affairs,” including areas where general law provisions would otherwise provide protection. The City budget is a “municipal affair.”

Together with Section 304, “public financing”, there would no longer be a requirement that the city balance its’ budget. The people of Stockton, Bell, and others have come to deeply regret charters that have no explicit balanced budget requirement.

The city could also hold elections on different days than the state, when people are far less likely to participate.

The proponents claim that the charter will allow volunteers to construct public works and donate materials. In fact, people and organizations may now donate money for city projects. And there are hundreds of ways volunteers may participate. As a large company, PG&E provides a great example, encouraging and facilitating volunteers among their employees, whether or not union members, to participate in environmental activities such as coastal cleanup, and trail maintenance in area parks.

The proponents correctly decry the state taking of certain funds from the city. It is true that the state has taken excess funds from the city, but one should ask, why has the city collected excess funds in the first place?

I am always open to your comments or questions. As your write-in candidate for mayor of Arroyo Grande, I am the only candidate for city office opposed to the charter. Please join me in voting no on Measure C-14.

If you have questions, contact Jim Hill, write-in candidate for mayor of Arroyo Grande, at (805) 481-5654.

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Josh Payne

Mr. Hill,

I am so pleased to read your opinion on Measure C-14. I refuse to let Arroyo Grande go the way of Bell, California. Thank you for trying to keep the public informed of the shady political trickery and class warfare designed to destroy the middle class. With a well informed public and trustworthy politicians like yourself, we can continue to have a prosperous community. You have my vote sir.




It is refreshing to Mr.Hill outline his position on the Charter City proposal.

With all the paid consultants running stealth campaigns because they fear the Independent Voters in the South County.

After the Police and Fire Tax Increase Defeats, the last thing they want is a debate based on facts.

I hope Voters will look past the old PM Spin, Strategic “education mailers” paid by taxpayers and unions.

Charter City,Free Speech,Sales Tax Extension,Excessive New Cuesta Building Tax , Automatic Rate Increases, and waiting for the green light is the costly South County Sanitation District.


One of the arguments used for people in favor of the Charter City is that it allows cities to not have follow the same rules that general law cities have to follow, like those that dictate taxes and how those are levied, collected, and used; thus supposedly giving the city more authority over how it manges them However, there are several popositions as well as Constitutional ammendments that show otherwise—in most circumstances, these popositions and ammendments are appliled equally to charter cities and general law cities.

If you visit the League of California Cities webpage and click on the grid that outlines the differences between a charter city and a general law city, a scary word is used on the first line of the charter city side of the grid—plenary—meaning absolute, unrestricted, sweeping, comprehensive, full, complete, entire…they have plenary power over all things deemed “munincipal” in nature, which is not clearly defined, and won’t be unless there is reason for a court to define it…

If you ask me, this charter is just asking for trouble. It does not require cities balance their budget and if you read the 5 page document which was created by a citizens group in AG, it is not very clear on any of the language, and most of them are not, they are created this way on purporse so they have broad and sweeping powers and are left up to interpretation, the interpretation of the mayor and city council that is…

I am not voting for the Charter intiative…I do not want the city I live to be run into the ground by the current leadership. The stakes are very high this election season. We all need to WRITE-IN JIM HILL and fill in the bubble and then vote NO on Measure C-14. Did I mention that a charter city gets to determine it’s own term limits for public office????


very informative Leann…..


The specific propositions and ammendments are as follows:

Proposition 1A (2004 and 2006)

Proposition 22 (2010)

“Just as the protections against future State efforts to take and/or redirect local governements’ share of VLF revenues enacted by Propositions 1A (2004), !a (2006), and 22 apply equally to all Californnia cities, general law and charter cities are equally vulnerable to future State efforts to exploit any loopholes in those laws…When the State found a loophole in Prop 22 for protected RDA revenue general law and charter cities alike were affected by the State’s actions.” (Olsen, Hagel, and Fishburn, LLP, June 18, 2013).

On the Arroyo Grande.org website, Mayor Ferrara and the City Council signed a document which states that the State of California redirects $800,000 annually from the city budget of AG. Where is the proof of this? And, what is to ensure that a charter city would stop this from happening? NOTHING! This $800,000 dollars is not defined in the document, and from what I have read about the propositions listed above, the funds the State can take from local governments have to meet certain criteria. Moving to a charter does not guarentee that the $800,000 will automatically be protected from the arms of Sacramento. DON’T TAKE WHAT THEY TELL YOU AS THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!! Measure C-14 is not a good idea for AG.


I don’t live in Arroyo Grande, but the ramifications of a Charter City are interesting to me. The big issue to me is Prevailing Wage. Solvang is a Charter City and their public utilities departments can get a much lower price on work done by contractors than a city that requires Prevailing Wage. On Prevailing Wage jobs, contractors that are non-union have to pay their workers union scale (prevailing wage) AND do a bunch of extra (and costly) paperwork to prove they meet Prevailing Wage requirements. It drives up their cost dramatically. I would say it doubles their costs easily. Who ends up paying for that? The city’s tax payers of course. So, any city can be run well or not and it may be that Arroyo Grande needs a change in leadership. I will leave that up to the voters in Arroyo Grande to figure out. I just wonder if there are well run Charter Cities in California that could be used as an example for AG or other cities that want to go that route.


I agree with you in theory, that a charter city can save the City money. But the question becomes what does the City do with those savings? Look at San Luis Obispo’s salaries and budget over the last eight years. You will see what are done with the contractor savings, the employees give the money to themselves. The money will not be returned to the taxpayer.


I don’t get it. What does a Charter City have to do with what you do with those savings? Are you saying that if SLO wasn’t a Charter City, there is some sort of oversight that would prevent them from spending so much on city employees? Just trying to understand the ramifications of a Charter City.


Savings realized in a Charter City, or revenue generated in a Charter City, has a very wide latitude to be spent by Politicians and Managers with less transparency than a General City. Politicians and managers will have more money to play with, period. If you trust your politicians and managers to give those savings back, then have at it, vote for Charter and the politician of your choice. At least you are informed.

In essence a General city is bound by California laws governing Municipalities.

A Charter City has:

Has supreme authority over “municipal

affairs.” Cal. Const. art. XI, § 5(b)

I dont like the sound of that unless that politico is Marcus Aurelius.


Wrong all around. SLO, a charter city, pays prevailing wage for contracted work. So there are no “savings.” Besides, what they pay contractors has nothing to do with overpaying staff. You might recall, however, the end run the city did on prevailing wages for its last parking garage. It was built by the Copelands, on property the Copelands owned, so it technically wasn’t a city project requiring prevailing wages, then transferred to the city. Lot of good that did — the Copelands ended up suing the city for $3 million on the deal. Didn’t read about that in the Fibune or New Lies, did you? But it’s there in the staff report for the last round of the Chinatown giveaway, when city agreed to transfer to Copelands for $1.1 million OUR land worth probably $18 million or more. Heck, the little city office building which makes up a small part of the $1.1 mil package was itself appraised at $2.9 million. Didn’t read that in the Fibune either.


And what do the Copelands do to show their gratitude for the city’s generosity? How about sell out part of their holdings to an east coast investment fund, reported in the press to be a $100 mil deal, with Copelands gaining a reported $50 mil. Folks, we made some of that possible by sub-value transfer of city property to them, and they didn’t share a dime of it with us. The deals this city council makes with the likes of the Copelands makes anything corrupt in DC look like nothing at all. When’s enough enough? When do we get better people running for office and ending this giveaway of public property?


an example of “supreme authority”


So glad to see it’s not just a small group of deranged AG citizens who are unhappy with the way the Trib covers the news.

Our Mayor discounts other “fringe media sources” and only wants people to obtain their news from the Trib.

Yes, the very same paper our city pays a great deal of $$$$ to each month to publish their legal notices…and carry their water.


It really is just your small group. Good luck to you all.


The more I read about Charter Cities, the more obvious it becomes how bad an idea it is for our Arroyo Grande. Just look at SLO and their management issues, and fiscal problems! Go on-line and familiarize yourselves with the facts, as I did. “No on Charter City!”


Write in Jim Hill for mayor. Let’s get back on track.


People better wake up! If you think your on the fence or scared of Tony now, just you wait , if you do not use your rights to stand up and vote for a change, Tony will be worse then ever. Lots of people stand to lose thier jobs. Just remember, noone knows how you vote! Write-In Jim Hill for Mayor and darken the bubble!


One other city that is not mentioned above, is San Luis Obispo, which is a charter city. The SLO City Government and its employees have run roughshod over the entire citizenry. What proof do I have? Over the last eight years, SLO’s population has increased by 3% and the city budget has increased by over a whopping 340%. Exorbitant salaries and benefits are the norm, not the exception. What proof do i have?



There are over 107 employees in SLO City Government with a total compensation cost exceeding $100K per year.

Hmmmm……don’t let Mayor Tony, whose ethics have been highly questionable during his tenure, get total control over Arroyo Grande, via Charter City Designation.

Think South Sanitation District Scandal

Think Verdin Marketing Contract

Think City Hall Purchase and Nick Thompkins.

Think First Amendment Obstruction

Charter City is a great power and even the most moral people would be tempted by its power and offerings.


Excellent examples of how Taxes and Budgets go out of control when excessive powers are granted to a select few.

It is time to give citizen voters the opportunity to decide if they want a Sales Tax Extension and Automatic Rate Increases.

Vote- Inform Others- Return Mail Ballots

a bubble {X} and a name


Notice how many of those are police and fire. Way overpaid. If you go to transparentcalifornia.com you can see names attached to these salaries. Always fun to snoop.


Yet AG considers them heroes… even after they made the city bend over for them.


RE: The City’s argument that they can allow volunteers to construct public works and donate materials…

What has Arroyo Grande in Bloom been doing? I am now wondering if the City maintenance department has been denied work because they have been outsourced by these volunteers? Why do we need the charter if it is OK for them now?

Maybe Tony could get his remaining three trees removed by volunteers! After all, those 10 year old trees are “overtaking him now!”


Seems to me thy Berry Gardens gets a lot of attention. I remember the Mayor requesting that Farroll be placed on the resurface list because he traveled it a lot.