APCD to pay consultant to teach civility
January 31, 2016
Amid disagreements over high salaries and the controversial dust rule, the divided San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors voted to hire a consultant for up to $5,000 to moderate a team-building workshop tentatively scheduled for March 23.
Initially, staff recommended spending $15,000 for a consultant. However, Grover Beach Councilman Jeff Lee made a motion to spend no more than $5,000. SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson seconded the motion with SLO Mayor Jan Marx, Paso Robles Mayor John Hamon, Atascadero Councilmember Roberta Fonzi, Morro Bay City Councilman Noah Smukler and SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill voting in favor of the motion.
Arroyo Grande Councilmember Barbara Harmon, Pismo Beach Councilman Ed Waage and SLO County supervisors Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold voted against spending $5,000 on a consultant, though they said would support a team building workshop at no cost to the district.
After a lengthy debate over a request by APCD Director Larry Allen for a 4.8 percent raise in pay, the board voted to provide a 2.5 percent salary increase increasing his yearly compensation to approximately $250,000. The 12 person board, made of five members from the San Luis Obispo County board of Supervisors and a representative from each city, is often split on key issues.
Conservative members have voted primarily against large pay raises and the Oceano dust rule while liberal members have voted for increased salaries and supporting the dust rule.
The APCD dust rule requires State Parks to reduce the amount of particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes to the Nipomo Mesa or face fines of up to $1,000 a day. Opponents of the rule claim it was based on flawed science in an effort to raise money to pay bloated APCD staff salaries.
In 2015, a state appellate court invalidated part of the Oceano Dunes dust rule. Nevertheless, the APCD staff has been battling to keep the regulation in place with support from about half of its members.
Last year, Adam Hill served as chair of the air board. However, in recent years, several members of county and regional boards have objected to Hill serving in leadership positions because of his propensity for sending disparaging emails and attacking his critics in published writings.
In January 2013, Hill lost out on opportunities to serve both as air board chair and president of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments because of his lack of civility.
Morro Bay City Councilman Noah Smukler took over as chair in Jan. 2016.