SLO City Council votes to outlaw odors

April 1, 2015
Mayor Jan Marx

Mayor Jan Marx


The San Luis Obispo City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to enact an ordinance that allows the city to prosecute people who allow foul odors to creep across their property lines for a misdemeanor.

During public comment, a handful of people asked the council to vote against the ordinance, calling it vague and poorly assembled. In addition, speakers said it was unfair, unenforceable, and could be used indiscriminately.

Several speakers questioned how the ordinance would be enforced when residents share property lines at apartment complexes and duplexes. No one from the public spoke in favor of the ordinance.

Last year, the city had several complaints about an undesirable scent emanating from a medical marijuana grow in the backyard of a San Luis Obispo home. When the council failed to adopt a proposed medical marijuana ban, staff responded by drafting the foul odor ordinance. An ordinance that includes an exemption for all city owned properties.

On Tuesday, when asked how many odor complaints the city has received in the past, Community Development Director Derek Johnson said there had been two.

As a result of the new odor ordinance, city code enforcers are mandated to respond to odor complaints. If a property owner receives three verified complaints from neighboring property owners, code enforcers can issue citations to the property owner.

Mayor Jan Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson, two of whom are attorneys and one of whom is married to an attorney, voted in favor of the “odor nuisance” ordinance at Tuesday’s council meeting. Councilmen Dan Carpenter and Dan Rivoire cast the two dissenting votes.

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Dear SanSimeonSam,

I really thought I was in the laughingest stock county in this nation. I’m sorry to say, y’all just made my day! Guess I’m in second place.

Sorry my friends . And good luck.

We are only at the ban the BBQ level in my world. But your progressive activists seem to be moving my way and generally pissing everyone off.

Sorry I don’t have a solution.


Does this go for the city sewer plant also? Seems like it’s always stinking up South Higuera.


I heard the city is exempt from this, can some verify this?


Yes, they exempted all city operations including their sewer stink. Rules adopted by the wise ones only apply to other people!

How about we park a dead cow in Marx’s yard some night, then turn her in for her stinking carcass? Remember, she’s the one who voted for the ordinance that required hiding garbage cans, then got cited herself, thinking it only applied to other people. There’s got to be some way to get her for a stink of some sort.


This is really an excuse to hire more community “inspectors” as the past laws about trash cans and parking on lawns are only enforced in Cal Poly (RQN) neighborhoods. My section of the city has trash cans in the street, people living in trailers, parking on lawns, unpermitted whole home remodel’s and more.

The only inspector I have seen took a picture of me replacing 3 feet of siding on my garage as he was parked in front of a home with 3 cars on the lawn next to a hooked up 5th wheel. Cars and 5th wheel still there 6 months later.

Also can someone get art critic Peg Pinard to mow her weeds? At 3′ there must be a ordnance covering tall weeds in the historic neighborhood.



Just claim that Pinards weeds are stink weed and file a complaint under the new ordinance

Mitch C

This obviously is an April Fools joke.


Fools for sure, but joke 365 days of the year.


Once again, the SLO city staffers act as busy-bodies, hoping to appear as if they’re actually accomplishing something. Who cares about crime or the homeless epidemic when *GASP* there are “foul odors” to deal with!!

The elected councilmembers were stupid to approve this ordinance but the non-elected city staffers are the true intrusive and–as Kevin Rice says–authoritarian ones.

The staffers want long-term job security. Councilmembers come and go but the city managers and staffers can be employed for decades.

Sorry to all the SLO residents who now cannot legally feed the ducks at Laguna Lake, store their trash cans in plain view, use a drive-thru restaurant, or wear smelly perfume or use a BBQ in their own backyards, lest they are cited for “foul odors.”

But a snarky congrats to Mayor Marx–as in Marxist–and the SLO City staff for once againsuccessfully crafting another absurd ordinance that chips away at personal freedoms.

Keep it up, Jan Marx, and your crazy “brewfing” ordinance just may get approved, too.


Nobody has even mentioned or thought of the wood fireplaces in homes or the little fire in the back yard roasting marshmallows? Now we can complain of the smoke that is emitted from them on those clear cool nights when we have our windows open. How about the neighbor who never picks up after his dog in his back yard? Staff is going to have to hire more people to cover all of the complaints. Now, when Laguna Lake starts to smell from lack of water circulation shall we shoot the ducks, seagulls and geese? Oh, wait, the smelly garbage truck that passes by or the dumpster behind the restaurant that needs “steam” cleaning? I have spent way to much time on this, but, most likely, more time than the city council did.


The APCD covers fireplaces and BBQ’s.


No, they don’t. BBQ’s are allowed. Even commercial ones. Check out the Farmer’s Market.


“Councilmembers come and go but the city managers and staffers can be employed for decades.”

The phrase used in SLO city hall is “Elected officials come and go, staff is forever”, yes this is a quote.


Who are you quoting? Please tell us.


“No one from the public spoke in favor of the ordinance”. This alone is a miracle, with all the air-head Marx supporters that one would expect to tout the ordinance.

Of course, nothing will be done about something real, the health-damaging impacts of disturbed sleep and peace, from my pet peeve loud illegal motorcycle removed or modified exhausts. Might as well let whatever foul odor, raucous party noise, thug biker, smart meter radiation, just let it all bedevil SLO residents.

The incongruity of Marx outlawing odor while allowing the vicious sounds of thug bikes to be OPEN SEASON on us all, is huge.


I am a devout vegetarian. The smell of BBQ chicken or Beef is horrific. I shall be roaming the streets of SLO and filing complaints against anyone with a BBQ going. The odor is obnoxious and i will be complaining. At the same time I am wheelchair bound and will file ADA complaints against homeowners that do not allow for wheelchair access to their backyards so that i can get close enough to their barbeques to really get a good smell of their foul smelling food. I think i will make a template and print a 1000 copies. The city better hire some more code enforcers and a couple of real lawyers to handle the lawsuits

Kevin Rice

Right wing authoritarians, flexing their hubris.


right wing authoritarians?


Yes, isn’t that what a progressive really is? They are authoritarians masquerading as liberals.. a bit like the Nazis who masqueraded as socialists. The sooner real liberals figure this out, the better off the U.S. and the whole world will be.

Kevin Rice

tomsqueak: Yes. These kids fought authority in their day. Jan Marx particularly was involved with campus rebellion protests. Now, they have authority, and they abuse it against others the same way an abused kid turns into an abuser.

They are so entrenched in their personal rectitude, they fail to realize they have become exactly what they protested against.

Conservatism = orthodoxy. 1960s views Right-wing authoritarians.


Yes! When they fought authority, authority always won. Now they’re on the alleged “winning” side, making the rest of us losers.


We will be the laughing stock of the entire nation.




Perfect motto for the happiest city!

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