Politics in Arroyo Grande is over water resources

October 7, 2016

AG City Council 6

Opinion By OTIS PAGE

The main issue in the election in Arroyo Grande is apparent, those who endorse growth and those who for good reason support a moratorium.

The headline issue is the large proposed East Cherry development and its impact on water resources and traffic. The East Cherry proposal was finally approved on a 3-2 vote by the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission despite substantial citizen comment opposing the proposal. It may be reviewed by the City Council prior to the election on Nov. 8.

Those running for council supporting the pro-growth agenda include mayoral candidate Richard Waller, Kristen Barneich and Caren Ray. Those that support a moratorium because of the drought and current residential water restrictions include incumbent Mayor Jim Hill, Planning Commission member John Mack and activist LeAnn Akins.

The citizens will make their choice – supporting the water and traffic impacts that East Cherry represents or a curtailment until a more balanced plan is proposed. The proposal for 51 residences has major water and traffic impacts. Its impact is controversial and without question very significant.

The pro-growth advocates have substantial backing by prominent developers where the moratorium advocates do not. For the citizens of Arroyo Grande in this election years, this is the main city issue. Who to elect? The moratorium advocates or the growth promoters.



  1. grayotter1 says:

    Sorry Otis, guess my tongue in cheek wasn’t sticking out far enough…I think governments are idiots for even thinking about adding more people to our dried out water resources and private industry is guilty of being greedy for considering such ludicrous plans. Stupid cronyism has to stop!

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
    • Otis says:

      Again, with reverent admiration, grayotter1, I thank you for the clarification. Forgive me for my response, but I also thank you for the opportunity to make a “no tongue in cheek” rebuttal assuming the statement was serious.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. grayotter1 says:

    No problem… The Five Cities has plenty of water to share with new residents! Lopez Lake has lots of storage. The other Cities (particularly Grover and Pismo) will see the brilliance of this plan and expand their tax base also by encouraging more residentials.. The Oceano Sewer District will save the day. Maybe even get extra resources from Nipomo…

    (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
    • Otis says:

      Respectfully , grayotter1,, if there so much water at Lopez why am I and other citizens of AG penalized if we use it?

      Why are we instructed to conserve water while at the same time we see the price for water being increased because we are conserving it?

      If there is so much water why are we forced to use low flow toilets with dirtying propensities? Why must our green lawns turn brown?

      Considering this, why does the Council majority support a 51 home development that uses more water only from Lopez – not out of a well now used for ag use that is not metered and that is sustained by other water sources? (See References below)

      The Council majority appears to want its cake and eat it too. On one hand it penalizes the citizens while on the other hand it serves the ambition of developers who proceed despite the profound drought that exposes the citizens to terrible consequences if developments are not sustained.

      The developers can build and walk away where the citizens remain with the problem and risks while the puddle at Lopez Lake dries up. If the staff is wrong in its assessments of water use, they will not be punished but the citizen homeowners will be –SEVERELY!!


      Plan documents:

      • PC 2016-09-20_08a E Cherry Specific Plan.pdf
      • PC 2016-09-20_08a Resolution.pdf
      • PC 2016-09-20_08a Attachments 1,2,4,5,7,8.pdf
      • PC 2016-09-20_08a Attachment 3.pdf
      • PC 2016-09-20_08a Attachment 6.pdf
      • PC 2016-09-20_08a Attachment 9.pdf

      October 4th meeting staff report:

      PC 2016-10-04_8a Cherry Specific Plan Project.pdf

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  3. Seecanyonrd says:

    Otis, wrong again.
    Go to city website and check election donations.
    Mayor Jim Hill – developer donations 2.
    Kristen Barneich – developer donation 0.
    John Mack chooses to build outside of city to avoid permit fees.
    The Tribune was right for once – read their endorsements.

    (-3) 31 Total Votes - 14 up - 17 down
    • kayaknut says:

      How about checking “donations” to Barneich’s In Bloom group?

      (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
    • StakeHolder says:

      You should do your own research before making false claims. Read the names of the 2 large donors of Mayor Hill. One sells residential real estate, the other is a retired contractor who did his business in Grover Beach. No hidden motives here. Someone is trying to spread a rumor.

      (9) 25 Total Votes - 17 up - 8 down
    • shishkabob141 says:

      Someone is drinking Richard Waller’s Kool-Aid.

      (7) 23 Total Votes - 15 up - 8 down
    • StakeHolder says:

      Seecanyonrd, you have it all wrong! Besides the fact that no developers have donated to Mayor Hill’s campaign (you can view the forms yourself on the city website), you will see donations to Caren Ray from Rooster Creek, LLC, plus another one from an employee of Rooster Creek. Nice way for Nick Tompkins to hide his name, isn’t it?

      And, it is not only the cash donations that back a candidate. You will see a cluster of the three- Waller, Barneich and Ray signs – planted front and center on all the properties owned by Nick Tompkins (past or current). Signs are on the new Courtland/Grand development, The Heritage Oaks Bank property (do you really think the bank is supporting them?), at Mason Bar/new Village Hotel property (both at Branch St level and at the top of the lot at Tally Ho), Rooster Creek Restaurant in the Village, and even a connection with Old Juans Cantina in Oceano!

      Funny, no signs for Waller, Ray or Barneich at the Cherry Creek property. They know that would not be good PR for them, but yes, Nick owns that as well.

      You have to wonder why Nick Tompkins is trying so hard to see that the new City Council is made up with these three. Smell’s fishy to me!

      (5) 23 Total Votes - 14 up - 9 down
  4. tomsquawk says:

    Chinatown….pure and simple….WATER. watch the movie

    (1) 11 Total Votes - 6 up - 5 down
  5. FreeAGCouncil.com says:

    The Bloomers are in town showing off our drought stricken landscapes.
    Big Tony welcomed them all just like he would if he were mayor, NOT!

    The election is about ideologies: the form of government Big Tony & Caren Ray kept very secret, ( remember their chum Ed Arnold?) like not wanting to place Steve Adams on Adminstrative leave, VS. the citizens who want everything out in the open.

    Mr. MACK was willing to be tried by K. Barneich yet she was not willing to do ANYTHING about ADAMS and FERRARA and CARMEL?

    Put that bee in your America in Bloom sunbonnet.

    (8) 32 Total Votes - 20 up - 12 down
  6. Stunned says:

    Even WITH the best mayor in the county they still got this passed huh? Well, take it to the polls Arroyo Grande. Get rid of the small knot that continues to push growth when we have no water. Throw them and their wallets in the gutter!

    Re-elect Jim Hill for mayor!

    (15) 35 Total Votes - 25 up - 10 down
  7. doglover says:

    Are they all still sobbing over the loss of Big Tony and Sleepy joe?
    MOVE ON…

    (23) 37 Total Votes - 30 up - 7 down
  8. Otis says:

    The planning Commission of Arroyo Grande has approved the Specific Plan that provides 51 homes on approximately 11 acres in Arroyo Grande. The plan also has provisions for the Japanese Welfare segment of over 1 acre. A hotel at the corner of Traffic Way and Cherry Street originally specified is now only contemplated for approval at a future date.

    The project has a contentious history. The current one occurred in July 2014 when the proposal was presented to the Council by Randy Russom, a Planning Commissioner, without Planning Commission knowledge or approval.

    A Cal Coast News report on the issue states the present developer Mangano was “a major donor to San Luis Obispo County Supervisor candidate Caren Ray, with whom Russom is in a relationship. Last year, Mangano donated $10,000 to Ray’s supervisorial election campaign. From just the one donation, Mangano remains Ray’s second largest contributor.”



    The plan uses UC Davis water usage assumptions: Crop rotation 2 to 2,25; AFY range 35 to 65.There is no corroboration of actual water used including the facts regarding crops that have been grown in the past year, the actual acreage used, and the absence of meters on the well that serves the area. The plan’s proponents had enough time to meter the water use since the project was introduced to the Council of July 14, 2014!


    Regarding traffic:they stated in the plan. The data presented was an OMNI statement using the Syncho Version 9 simulator showing traffic delay times. This indicated the pile up only at Branch Street. This raises the legitimate question as to the actual traffic numbers used. And were those number related to the traffic counts transpiring today?

    A leading expert on traffic matters observed he was perplexed about the Brisco interchange issue where the traffic simulation didn’t reveal the congestion that occurred there. So, traffic simulators are vulnerable and can only be proven by experience.


    The citizens know there is a drought and they must make dire contributions with penalties and by not watering lawns and in using other water reducing toilets and showers to conserve water. Nevertheless, ignoring the plight of the citizens the staff report for the October 4th meeting of the Planning Commission emphasized that all developments will proceed without impact on the precious water source at Lake Lopez.

    The City staff appears to wish to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand it penalizes the citizens while on the other hand it serves the ambition of developers who wish to proceed despite the profound drought that exposes the citizens to terrible consequences if more strident conservation measures are not sustained while the puddle a Lopez Lake dries by the thirsty consumption of agriculture and residences not only in Arroyo Grande, but also for the cities or Grover Beach and Pismo Beach.

    (15) 35 Total Votes - 25 up - 10 down
  9. Pelican1 says:

    Otis, I have to respectfully disagree at least in part. Arroyo politics is about good vs evil.It has been for decades.There remains an evil element who’s sole intent is to manipulate the community with their self indulgence, personal interests and greed.
    Bully’s in smoke filled rooms pulling all the levers and turning all the dials in an attempt to control both the vertical and horizontal is really what it’s been all about.
    Hopefully….NO MORE.

    (11) 41 Total Votes - 26 up - 15 down
    • RonHolt says:

      One problem of many conservatives is their tendency to see things only in terms of good and evil (black and white). In real life there are mixes of them and most people understand that. When you assume that everything you dislike is due to evil, you lose the respect of many others for your judgment.

      Has there been some “evil” in AG politics (or in all politics for that matter)? Certainly. But people do bad things for many other reasons too. Sometimes it is belief in incorrect information, sometimes it is complete lack of information, sometimes it is because someone is incapable of admitting that a previous decision was a mistake and they rationalize to justify their position. There are probably others as well. It isn’t all about greed for power and money — which I will agree is the root of all evil in politics as well as in real life.

      Otis is correct in that the big issue in this election for AG voters is that of development without pre-existing water supplies (and other infrastructure) for it. That is not an inherently evil decision although some evil can be in play in terms of campaign financial support by those who benefit most from such development.

      (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down

Leave a Comment