Gibson attempted to ax the public from water debate

February 19, 2015
Supervisor Bruce Gibson Photo by Daniel Blackburn

Supervisor Bruce Gibson
Photo by Daniel Blackburn

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson attempted to push forward a vote on a hotly contested water use ordinance during a Feb. 17 poorly attended board of supervisors hearing on planning department priorities.

Throughout this month, the board has wavered back and forth on whether or not to extend a temporary ordinance that restricts agricultural and residential development in North County in order to preserve water in the Paso Robles groundwater basin. A hearing on the proposed ordinance extension is scheduled for next week’s board meeting, head county planner Jim Bergman said Tuesday.

But, on Feb. 17, Gibson motioned to have the board direct county planning staff to start crafting an extension of the ordinance. Gibson called for the vote on the Paso Robles basin ordinance during a hearing titled, “Report on Department of Planning and Building priorities.”

He said the motion was justified and the vote on the ordinance should not come as a surprise to the public. But, the board voted down Gibson’s motion on a 3-2 vote, doing so shortly after Supervisor Debbie Arnold accused him of using a backdoor tactic to avoid public scrutiny.

“The public has not been noticed that we are having this discussion,” Arnold said. “For us to do it today, I think would be a complete disservice to the public.”

Supervisor Frank Mecham currently holds the swing vote on the ordinance since he has voted this month both in favor of and against some type of ordinance extension. Mecham agreed with Arnold on Tuesday, saying that it did not make sense to vote on the issue when it was scheduled to come before the board at a different time.

“I don’t know why we need a motion to do this when we are going to be hearing it anyway in a week,” Mecham said.

Gibson said the benefit of voting Tuesday, as opposed to waiting a week, was that it would give planning staff an additional seven days to get to work. Crafting the ordinance extension is large task that involves preparing an environmental impact report, Gibson said.

He also said that the meeting was properly noticed for a vote on the Paso Robles basin ordinance.

“The public knew we were talking about building and planning priorities here,” Gibson said. “That was as plainly noticed as possible.”

A county staff report on Tuesday’s hearing described it as an opportunity for the board to make any desired changes to county planning priorities. A top county planning priority is implementing the groundwater basin ordinance, Gibson said.

Just last month, though, the board violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, when Gibson did not let the public comment on the realignment of board leadership positions. That meeting, too, was not properly noticed.

Gibson admitted making the Brown Act violation a week later, saying it was a mistake. Many members of the public, though, suggested that it was a deliberate effort to place his ally Supervisor Adam Hill in a leadership position.

Hill cast the only other vote in favor of Gibson’s motion on Tuesday. He, like Gibson, said a crisis exists in the Paso Robles basin and that the county is risking a new wave of development and water extraction in the area if the ordinance is not extended.

The ordinance is currently set to expire in August. As it exists now, it prohibits residential or agricultural development in the basin unless developers or ranchers create conservation projects that preserve an equal amount of water elsewhere in the area.

Arnold, who opposes the ordinance, said the county is choosing winners and losers by keeping it in place. She said that property owners in the basin who cannot afford the conservation projects will not be able to use their property whether or not they have water on it.

Simultaneously, the ordinance appears to be driving up the price of land in the area, especially property with irrigation. Those landowners stand to gain as they will be able to sell their allotment of water to others above the basin, Arnold said.

Supervisor Lynn Compton also opposes the ordinance. She said Tuesday that the regulation takes property rights away from landowners, some of whom live in areas that are not as impacted by water shortage issues.

Mecham indicated last week that he would favor some kind of temporary extension of the ordinance. He said he would not support making the ordinance permanent, but Mecham has often voted with Gibson and Hill on the issue.

The board is slated to discuss the issue at its upcoming Tuesday meeting.


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Myself

Thank God that Hill isn’t at the top of the heap or this would most likely blown thru like the wind,Arnold has the sense to see this crap for what it is.

Question, are we,that post here, the only people in the county that think Gibson and Hill are wacked out,don’t other people read this news blog,don’t other people think these two are jerks, and finally don’t those two have enough brains between the two of them to figure out they are morons.


ToHellinaHandBasket

Gibson. Hill.


Both a Summer’s eve product.


I wish these two to be removed soon. However, and even if they will be, their stink upon elected government officials, and those whom elected them will waft about for sometime afterward.


Although it is becoming increasingly reduntant, thank you CCN for continuing to shine the light where darkness is concerned.


Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


obispan

Meacham is now clearly a left-wing nut case. The “water problem” is nothing but a communistic tool by Obama-supporters.


fhill123

Maybe the ”ax” will flip and do damage to future elections.


abigchocoholic

What question do you think Gibson wanted to ax the public anyway?


justbeware

Gibson has his own agenda.


It does not include axing the public anything, or listening to them either.


Pelican1

Just more Brucefoolery!


agag1

Apparently Mr. Gibson hasn’t learned from his “mistake”.


taxpayer

Mr.Gibson doesn’t think he’s made a mistake. He’s a sociopath and believes that he knows what’s best for everyone. He’s a diabolical schemer who will do whatever it takes, legal or illegal, to move his own personl agena forward. Ask his ex-wife how ethical she thinks he is. He more that a disappointmet: He’s a person who’s very focused on doing what he wants done and not what his constituents want. He could care less about the people who supported him. What a selfish and thankless person the 2nd District has elected.


pigsrule

If and when the dust ever clears on the water problems, Gibson will be right at the top of the heap of cow manure that’s left.


AAADADDYO

Left or Right Water is an issue. politics gets in way of good decision making.

in the end we will all pay the price ,


justbeware

Really Bruce? Again?


isoslo

He doesn’t know any other way to be


Rich in MB

Hey you guys on the Left….

Can you defend this Tyrant Gibson?

He’s turning into the laughing stock of the County.


fhill123

If he is the laughing stock then (ant) Hill must be the bonds.


agag1

No takers?