Proposed Paso Robles water district trampled by voters
March 8, 2016
Correction: The number of Measure B-16 votes for the formation of the district was 753 and the votes against the district 2,643.
In a crushing loss to large North County agribusiness interests, 77.83 percent of landowners above the Paso Robles basin have voted against Measure B-16, formation of a proposed Paso Robles water district.
Funding for the district, Measure A-18, also failed with 74 percent of voters against funding the district.
For the past two years, San Luis Obispo County supervisors Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill, and Frank Mecham have pushed for the district, claiming the basin is in “overdraft.”
Both supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton voiced their opposition to creating the district; the balloting cost taxpayers about $1 million.
Proponents, like vineyard owner Jerry Reaugh, claimed the election would determine “local control.” Reaugh is chairman of the well-funded, pro-district Paso Robles Alliance for Groundwater Solutions (PRAAGS). A number of major players in the state’s water hierarchy helped draft the failed proposal, and the vote was authorized by legislation carried by Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo).
Opponents, on the other hand, countered that the plan was a “water grab.”
Tuesday’s votes were preliminary as ballots postmarked March 8 will be counted for the next three days. Nevertheless, it is unlikely the vote will change substantially.