Dan Carpenter’s election story

October 25, 2016
San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter

San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter

Special to CCN by Katelyn Piziali

If you ask San Luis Obispo City Council member Dan Carpenter, being a nice guy should mean finishing first.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has a history of unruliness during its public meetings, where Carpenter hopes to win the District 3 seat. Carpenter says the source of this incivility is his opponent, incumbent District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill.

“He is antagonistic, he is misogynistic to the women, he is disparaging to the speakers, and he cuts them off,” Carpenter said. “That level of incivility I think is all nurtured by him and so me replacing him would be the answer.”

Aside from how the Board of Supervisors works together, both Carpenter and Hill point to four pressing issues for the county: Water, traffic, Phillips 66 and the closing of Diablo Canyon.

Water is the most urgent topic at hand, Carpenter said.

“If you don’t have water, all the other issues are a moot point to me,” Carpenter said. “You can talk about open space, you can talk about transportation infrastructure, you can talk about all kinds of fun things we do here, but if we don’t have water, we can’t sustain life in our community.”

Carpenter’s plan to cope with continuing drought is to build surface water storage, such as dams and reservoirs to collect rainfall and upgrading the San Luis Obispo County wastewater treatment plant, he said. The wastewater treatment plant treats sewage and rainwater runoff using a three-step process. This involves filtering out solids and treating it with chemicals before releasing it into the creeks that lead out to the Pacific Ocean.

The recycled water is still not drinkable, but can be used for landscaping, Carpenter said. With a $65 million dollar upgrade in the city of SLO, the plant can add a fourth step to its process to purify water to a point where it has low enough level of nitrates. Then, it can be put back into the groundwater basin, Carpenter said.

San Luis Obispo County cannot control droughts, but it can control its current inventory locally, Carpenter said. San Luis Obispo county water is regulated by the San Luis Obispo Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The city of SLO recives its water from three main sources: Santa Margarita Lake, also known as Salinas Reservoir, as well as Nacimiento Reservoir and Whale Rock Reservoir near Cayucos, Carpenter said. To add to San Luis Obispo’s water inventory, San Luis Obispo City Council recently acquired 2,200 more acre feet of water from Lake Nacimiento, Carpenter said. Acre feet is the volume needed to cover one acre with a foot of water.

Thinking ahead and creating more reservoirs and dams to collect future surface water is critical to staying ahead on water conservation, Carpenter said.

“We have not built a dam in this county since the Lopez Dam in 1969. That’s 47 years. We should be building water storage now for the next time it rains,” Carpenter said. “When it’s a real wet year, nobody thinks about building more dams, and then in a real dry year, it’s ‘we can’t build a dam because there’s no water to fill it.’ ”

Raising the height of existing dams as well as looking for new water storage is essential to adding to the county’s water supply, Carpenter said. When Santa Margarita Lake was acquired by the county in 1947, it was established that the county could add a 19-foot gate atop the dam to raise the lake by 19 feet, Carpenter said. This addition would require a full environmental review before being built. Reviews would also be required for new dams and reservoirs. Carpenter does not know the costs to acquire land or build new dams and reservoirs, but the county can acquire state grants to pay for additional storage where it is most needed in the south and north parts of the county, he said.

The county also has to resolve the flow of traffic just as the flow of water, Carpenter said. The county is responsible for accommodating all vehicle traffic and maintaining roads within the county.

During peak times of early morning and evening, Highway 101 between Avila Beach and Grover Beach and Highway 227 from Tank Farm Road to Price Canyon Road are the most congested, Carpenter said.

County roads are also congested, Carpenter said. Traffic on Buckley Road near the airport could increase if the city approves several subdivision of about 3,000 homes there.

“Buckley Road is still a two-lane road. Tank Farm road is a two-lane road. Prado Road doesn’t go through to all the sports fields down there, so we have these three two lane roads and we’re building 3,000 homes out in an area that’s already impacted by traffic. The traffic is just going to get more and more congested,” Carpenter said.

Since creating new roads is not an option, widening two-lane roads to four lanes is the answer to alleviate traffic congestion, Carpenter said. Land for widening lanes can come from private property owners or be bought by the county. Carpenter does not know the specific costs, but widening lanes can cost millions of dollars from the start of land acquisition to the end of construction, he said.

A controversial proposal that requires an impartial view on his part is the Phillips 66 oil-by-rail proposal, Carpenter said. Phillips 66 seeks to build a rail spur to transport crude oil to the Nipomo Mesa refinery by train.

The proposal was initially rejected by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission, which then gave Phillips 66 10 days to appeal the decision, Carpenter said. Last Wednesday, October 19, Phillips 66 appealed the decision to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, who will now vote to either repeal or reject the decision, according to Cal Coast News.

If Carpenter wins the District 3 Board of Supervisors seat, he will reserve judgment in the appeal hearing for Phillips 66, he said.

“You have to consider both sides without prejudice. I want to be open-minded, listen to both sides and then make a decision,” Carpenter said.

If the appeal is approved, the oil traveling by train through the county will present a great hazard to county residents, Carpenter said.

“We have so many of our residents who live right up next to the train tracks, like students,” Carpenter said. “So it is a healthy and safety issue.”

Both candidates see problems with the closure Diablo Canyon. Since PG&E decided not to renew its operating licenses, the plant will decommission and shut down in nine years, Carpenter said.

Diablo Canyon contributes $1 billion dollars to the local economy annually, as well as providing more than 1,500 head-of-household jobs with annual salaries well over $100,000 dollars, Carpenter said. The loss of slightly more than $1 million dollar property tax revenue will have a significant impact on the housing market as well as the school districts and nonprofits that depend on its donations, Carpenter said.

As the 1,500 workers and their families start to leave, there will be more houses than there is a demand, causing the housing market out there to go down, Carpenter said. Diablo Canyon pays about $50 million dollars a year in property taxes, Carpenter said. About $20 million dollars goes directly to the county, while the San Luis Coastal School District receives $10 to $12 million dollars a year.

The closure of Diablo Canyon will only affect 1 percent of the county’s budget, but it cuts 13 percent of the school district budget, Carpenter said.

“That’s a huge cut when you’re a school district already operating at full capacity with little extra in the budget.”

“I think it’s just going to be a devastating effect. I think we’re going to have a new normal, where we’re going to have to accept the fact that that’s not going to be a part of our economy and everybody’s going to have to adjust. I think having the nine years helps us transition a little better, but I don’t think that we’re going to be able to replace the jobs in nine years. I think it’ll just get us used to living without it,” Carpenter said.

Addressing these issues and encouraging public comment is what propels Carpenter through his campaign, he said.

Carpenter believes his level of civility and respectful manner toward people makes him the right candidate to replace his opponent, he said.

“I think this campaign has been much about character, civility, and behavior. We both acknowledge that each other is probably not doing the best job we can in that area. When it comes down to the other issues, I don’t think we differ that much on what we would be voting. I think it comes down to behavior. That’s all.”

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On my honor.

Good to see everyone agrees that water is the #1 issue. So on that note I would like to know what incumbent/candidates will do about the fact that the Arroyo Grande Oil Field currently uses 1,500,000 gallons of fresh water every day that they pull up from an aquifer that is part of the commons that then has to be injected back into the ground as a toxic waste byproduct.

The current Board of Supervisors is not enforcing its own emergency water mandate and 20% reduction on non-essential water use. Why? Or why are they not enforcing the State mandate for 20% reduction on non-essential water use?

Using water to produce a toxic waste is a100% non-essential use of water. Water used for oil extraction has zero benefit to the people of this county.

The State Constitution states ” that the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water be prevented, and that the conservation of such waters is to be exercised with a view to the reasonable and beneficial use thereof in the interest of the people and for the public welfare.”

The new owners of the Arroyo Grande Oil Fields, Sentinel, which bought the bankrupt Freeport McMoRan the current Board of Supervisors was romancing with a sweetheart deal for expansion of 450 wells and which would increase unreasonable water use by 300% and on average 4.3 million gallons of fresh water per day, is looking to pick up where Freeport left off.

If water is really the #1 issue then what I need to hear from the candidates and incumbents is an “on my honor promise because in fact when elected that is exactly what the oath of office is all about. A promise on their honor.

So, again, if water is the top priority then what I need to hear is something more than easily made, easily broken pie crust campaign promises.

What I need to hear is, “On my honor, I promise that the first order of business when I am elected is to enforce the 20% water reduction on all non-essential water use at the Arroyo Grande Oil Field and I promise to uphold all the local, State and Federal mandates and laws on water usage and safety. “

I am listening candidates and incumbents, are you?

This doesn’t pass the laugh test. More dams? Dan, the problem is we can’t count on getting enough rain to fill any reservoir. It’s called climate change. We don’t have too few reservoirs, we have too many dry reservoirs. Nacimiento’s watershed, supposed to be the most plentiful source of water from the Bay Area to LA, has dried out. Looking at his points, they’re mostly City of SLO stuff — this guy’s not well prepared for the county seat he seeks. Very convenient that he has no position on the greatest public health and safety threat of the day: the oil trains. That shows great courage of conviction. Sorry Hill haters, but the unfortunate fact of this election is the opposition isn’t prepared for the job.

Also, CCN, neither of these candidate stories delves into where their campaign contributions come from, which is really interesting. Developers and Karl Rove funders lining up with Carpenter, though HIll also has some unsavory support. (One Tea Party developer-type funder who’s put millions into Rove’s operations put $20,000 into Carpenter — why?) You really should reveal this info to your readers cause whoever’s elected is likely to dance with them that brought ’em to the party.

It is unfair to characterize the $20k contributor to Carpenter’s campaign as a “Tea Party developer-type” or a “Rove supporter.” He stopped giving money to national issues and started focusing on state issues because he realized that the national types would tell him whatever he wanted to hear to get his checks. In California, his support has mostly gone to criminal justice and prison reform issues, including proposition 47 and issues related to rehabilitating people rather than imprisoning them. Hardly Tea Party issues

Oh Danny Boy the voters, the voters are calling

from glen to glen and down the mountain side

The summer’s gone and all the roses dying

’tis you ’tis you must go and win our hearts and minds

But come ye back when Adam in soon forgotten

and when the valley’s hushed and free of evil

‘Tis I’ll be there in sunshine or in shadow

Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy we love you so. ..

Oil train. Simple as that.