Hill challenges Shoals

November 15, 2014
Jim Hill

Jim Hill


The recent election represents an opportunity for residents of Grover Beach, Oceano and Arroyo Grande to change some policies at the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District that have not been in residents’ interest. In 2010, a spill estimated at 384,000 gallons of raw sewage was released from the treatment plant, seriously affecting nearby homes and the area environment.

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has authority to levy fines of up to $10 per gallon for such events, but according to OCSD Director Lucey’s statements on the record, the water board responded with a settlement offer to the district of $300,000. This would represent a charge of roughly $10 per resident of the district, rounding the population to 30,000.

John Wallace, then Administrator of the sanitation district, didn’t want a fine on his record and prevailed on his friend, Arroyo Grande Mayor Ferrara, to challenge the fine with the regional water board.

The sanitation district board, led by Mayor Ferrara, voted to challenge the fine and hired an attorney to represent the district before the water board. The legal fees for the challenge came to about $750,000 –two and a half times the amount of the settlement offer – or about $25 per each resident of the District.

Due to the challenge, the water quality board thoroughly investigated the sewage spill, finding Administrator Wallace directly responsible and increasing the fine to nearly $1.2 million (still a relatively small fraction of the potential maximum), or another $40 per resident.

Just now, Mayor Ferrara has convinced the current sanitation district board to file a lawsuit against the state to protest the increased fine. The same attorney who lost the challenge at the water board has been engaged again.

There is no reason to believe the legal fees alone would not exceed $750,000 this time around, $25 more per resident on top of the $65 already charged, and it is very unlikely the sanitation district will prevail in the lawsuit – in fact, the fine could be increased yet again.

I invite newly elected Mayor Shoals of Grover Beach to join my effort to stop the lawsuit before more damage is done. If not, each resident’s liability could increase to $90 or more in legal fees and fines, or $360 for a family of four.

I know this is unaffordable for most Arroyo Grande families and I’m pretty sure the same is true for Grover Beach and Oceano. Worse, there will be no tangible benefit for the money spent.

It remains for each city and the OCSD to pursue restitution for the fine with former Administrator Wallace, something outgoing Grover Beach Mayor Peterson would have been willing to pursue, and the regional board did determine the spill was directly Wallace’s fault. That course seems to me far more likely to reduce the cost to district ratepayers than additional lawsuits engineered to protect favored interests.

Jim Hill is a write-in-candidate for the Arroyo Grande Mayor seat against Ferrara who is currently trailing in unofficial results.


It may be time to lobby for a five person board. It sure couldn’t hurt.

Kevin Rice

Well, first, there are three agencies involved, so I think you’d have to go with six. Next, the board is set by state law so the local Board has no day in that.


The board did have 5 members in the past.


No it didn’t. Where are you getting your misinformation?


The County Board of Supervisors formed the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District on September 3, 1963. At that point in time Board was compromised of five members.


Only the 4th. District Supervisor ever sat on the SSLOCSD Board. This practice continued until the District loaned Grover Beach the money to buy into the District.

This effectively eliminated the need for the 4th. District Supervisor to participate any longer, despite the area of Halcyon being within the District’s sphere of service and without representation on the SSLOCSD Board.

Should the District go to a 5 member Board, the obvious solution is that Halcyon would select their delegate, and the 4th District Supervisor would again sit on the SSLOCSD Board, or an “at large” election could take place within the entire District to select the final member.

Just FYI, a 5 member Board was discussed numerous times in the late 80’s and early 90’s and at that time it was felt that one member from each of the 3 major contributors (owners) was sufficient for proper management of the District.

Perhaps that has changed now…


Perhaps that’s my point…


Tonight, Tony, Steve and Teresa were seen at City Hall going over the vote count…..



Is this something we can take to the district attorney??????


Has no one learned anything from what we did in AG?

We have the power to change things, you just have to have the drive and desire to do it.

I think people need to start attending the san dist meetings, if no one is there they don’t feel the need to change.


We come on the Sloop Jim B

My friends, neighbors and me

Around Arroyo town we did vote

Campaigning all night

Jim’s name we did write

Well we feel so good now

We want to go home

So hoist up the Jim B’s sail

See how the main sail sets

Call for Tony no more

Let us go home, let us go home

We want to go home, yeah yeah

Well we feel so good now

We want to go home

The city manager and friend got drunk

And broke in city hall to bunk

The constable had to come and take them away

Mayor Tony’s about to be gone

Why don’t you leave us alone, yeah yeah

Well we feel so good now, we want to go home

So hoist up the John B’s sail

See how the main sail sets

Call Tony no more

Let us go home, let us go home

We want to go home, let us go home

Why don’t you let us go home

(Hoist up the Jim B’s sail)

Hoist up the Jim B

We feel so good now we want to go home

Let us go home….


What a breath of fresh air! A Mayor who actually works for the benefit of the people.

It really is a brand new day in AG. Thanks, Jim.


The other problem is still Guerrero in Oceano, he needs to get on board with straightening things out also.

Jim can only do so much, let the people of GB know what is going on, and for them to put pressure on their mayor to do right by them. Shoals is friends with John Wallace and is not going to just go against him I don’t think.

Thanks Jim, keep up the good work and bringing light to a bad situation


Guerrero wants to be a judge and Shoals wants to be a supervisor.

Both have hitched their carts to Adam Hill, the king maker.

Neither will compromise their future and neither will support any investigation into uncovering their past actions.

Both will weasel out of it.


That is why I am making the citizens of GB aware of this. They need to put pressure on their elected officials.


Don’t you think we need to let Shoals actually take office first?

I’m pretty sure that if the evidence lines up, Shoals will do the right thing….let him actually take office and get it on the agenda….



Wy would Shoals agree to an audit now when he wouldn’t in the past?


And I forgot to say, both had hitched their carts to Tony, too.


Bless you Jim, for being willing to stand up for what is right. Geez, you just can’t make this stuff up!

I am so glad we will have a transparent Sanitation Board now and no more of these shenanigans will be going on!


You don’t have a transparent board now. Until Jim Hill is sworn in on December 2nd (provided the vote is certified by the County by the end of November) you have Ferrara and Guerrero. After that you will have Shoals and Hill and Guerrero.


I appreciate an argument based on logic and not emotion .

I don’t know if fine was warranted but as a business decision settlement is.

cant let ego get in front of the interest of the people of arroyo grande.

that is where humility comes in.

that is in short supply these days


I think we should ask someone to do an audit of the sanitation district. I think the books need to be opened, I think they need to be scrutinized and I think we need to push for reform here as well. It can happen. We do not have to be held hostage by three people who do not have our interests in mind—only theirs.

It’s time for our local leaders to understand they are accountable to us-the voting public and we are not going to sit back and let them make poor decisions. Adam Hill will not last long—he is going to come tumbling down as well.

While the board may not be transparent now, it will be—time is a wonderful ally for those who are true, just, and righteous.

To AAADADDYO–what is the argument you are referring to that is based on emotion?? If you are referring to the article, it seems based on fact to me—what part of the article appeals to emotions other than those who are making poor choices for the voting public?

Mike Byrd

Mayor Peterson tried to get an audit but the other two refused. Nothing good happens without two votes on the san district board.


Thanks Jim, for putting the information out there, front and center, NO POLITICS, just looking out for the residents and giving it to us straight. This is information the public can understand and do something with. No Double talk here ! I hope Mayor Shoals is listening better than Tony Ferrara ever has.


Not likely. Shoals has been a good friend of Ferrara for many years and Ferrara endorsed him to run again, as did Adam Hill. Shoals refused twice in 2010 and 2011 to put someone else on the San District board despite being asked to do so by a majority of the city council.


Perhaps, with Ferrara being gutted in the 2014 election, Shoals will see the handwriting on the wall and realize that AG has a new mayor, one who stands up for the people of AG.

I don’t think Shoals is going to want to be associated with Ferrara in the future. Ferrara is a political untouchable now.


Indeed. Shoals will schmooze. That’s what PG&E pays him to do as their government affairs representative.