Arroyo Grande’s mayor elect wants lawsuit abandoned

November 20, 2014
Jim Hill

Jim Hill

By KAREN VELIE

Amid mounting legal costs, incoming Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill asked the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board to immediately cease and desist legal action against the state.

Two weeks ago, the sanitation district board voted unanimously to file a lawsuit against the state over a $1.1 million fine in a fight that has already cost ratepayers over $750,000. The sanitation district serves the residents of the Oceano Community Service District, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach and is governed by a three person board consisting of one representative from each community.

More than a dozen people attended Wednesday night’s meeting in which a letter from Hill was read by outgoing Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson. Eight people spoke during public comment, either questioning a lack of transparency regarding the lawsuit or asking for an end to litigation.

Peterson then attempted to place the lawsuit on a special meeting agenda.

However, district legal counsel Mike Seitz said the item did not qualify as an emergency, but it could be place on the Dec. 3 agenda. Both Peterson and Oceano Community Services District President Matt Guerrero voted to place it on the next agenda.

In 2010, issues at the sanitation district resulted in 384,000 gallons of raw sewage flowing into Oceano homes and the ocean. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board then determined the spill was the result of mismanagement and offered a $300,000 settlement to the sanitation district.

The district board declined the $300,000 settlement offer at plant administrator John Wallace’s suggestion. The district then paid about $750,000 to Wallace’s engineering firm the Wallace Group and a team of lawyers to argue against the allegations of mismanagement and the proposed fine.

At the hearing, the state water board determined that the 2010 sewage spill was due to careless and improper maintenance of the district and levied a fine of $1.1 million.

The district board then attempted to lodge an appeal, but their request was denied prompting the Nov. 5 district board decision to mount further litigation.


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7 Comments

  1. LeAnn says:

    I know the Mr. Hill (Jim), will do an excellent job as mayor—he has already taken steps to prove that he is going to work for the community not himself. I am so proud to have been on some of the front lines campaigning as well as voting for Jim.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  2. agag1 says:

    Good for you, Jim.
    Good for South County!

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  3. ToHellinaHandBasket says:

    An honest and moral individual in politics in this, the 21st Century?

    Sigh of relief……..

    Congrats Mr. Hill.

    (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
  4. Pelican1 says:

    First time at bat…and Jim hits it out of the park! ((( HOME RUN)))) (((((HOME RUN)))))

    (25) 35 Total Votes - 30 up - 5 down
  5. MaryMalone says:

    This is such an excellent example how things will be different with Jim Hill as mayor.

    I am so tired of politicians wadding up the voters best interests and using it for toilet paper.

    We voted for change, and that is what we are getting. I cannot remember an instance in many years when what a person running for office promised being even close to what the politician delivered.

    Jim Hill is an ethical man, and I could not be prouder of the way he has jumped into gear to get things back on the right track.

    (27) 33 Total Votes - 30 up - 3 down
  6. aft50s says:

    Good for Jim!

    Pay the $300K and cut our losses. Actually its only a “loss” of $150K as the water board allows the use of up to 50% of the fine to be used for projects related to the environment etc.

    (32) 38 Total Votes - 35 up - 3 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Don’t forget also saddle John Wallace and his company with the failure and fine

      (39) 43 Total Votes - 41 up - 2 down

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