DA’s office and city of SLO feud over ballot measure

July 28, 2017

A feud has broken out between the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office and the city of San Luis Obispo over the city’s upcoming special election. The districts attorney’s Office says it appears the city unlawfully repealed the rental inspection ordinance confusing the ballot question that voters are now receiving in the mail, prompting angry responses from San Luis Obispo officials.

Earlier this year, a citizens’ initiative succeeded in calling for a special election on repealing an ordinance that allowed city workers to inspect rental properties and collect fees and replace it with a nondiscrimination in housing rule. The city is holding the election, as required, but city officials have changed the wording of the ballot measure, resulting in significant confusion.

Following the citizens’ signature drive, the San Luis Obispo City Council opted to repeal the unpopular rental inspection ordinance but not replace it with a nondiscrimination in housing ordinance. Then, the city altered the text of the ballot measure that was submitted so that it no longer mentions repealing the controversial ordinance.

San Luis Obispo resident Kevin Rice, who is campaigning for the ballot measure to pass, requested that the district attorney’s office examine the city’s handling of the initiative. Last month, Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham responded to Rice in a letter signed by District Attorney Dan Dan Dow that stated it appears the city council unlawfully changed the ballot measure.

But, Cunningham said in the letter that no intentional fraud occurred; thus the city did not do anything criminal. Cunningham stated Rice’s only remedy may be to file a lawsuit.

Christine Dietrick

In response to Cunningham, San Luis Obispo City Attorney Christine Dietrick wrote a letter stating the SLO County District Attorney’s Office’s findings are unfounded based on the facts. Dietrick also stated the district attorney rarely deals with elections code, and it should have consulted the city on the matter.

SLO council members, including Mayor Heidi Harmon, are siding with Dietrick and criticizing the district attorney, as well as Rice and other proponents of the ballot measure. Council members claim backers of the initiative are playing political games and are aiming to destroy the city’s affordable housing programs.

As vote-by-mail ballots have begun to arrive at voters’ homes, several San Luis Obispo residents have contacted CalCoastNews saying they want to vote to make sure the rental inspection program is not reinstated, but they do not know whether to vote “yes” or “no”  due to confusing wording of the initiative.

Proponents of the ballot measure say the city is confusing voters and trying to play up it decision to repeal the rental inspection ordinance in order to derail the initiative. Backers of the initiative say the city is planning to return with a new rental inspection program, while city officials claim rental inspections in San Luis Obispo are not coming back.


Aside from this criminal attempt to confuse and obfuscate the issue, no one seems to have brought up the convenient timing of the election.

The vast majority of our renters are out of town, being summer break and the stoonts are gone. These folks are the largest single group of victims of this intrusive effort by our big brother city.

What a cowardly way for the arrogant elected officials to get their way, on both counts.

Tell all your friends to vote YES on this ballot.


Thank you, Kevin Rice, for keeping a close eye on the City of San Luis Obispo and the details of the documentation being circulated by the City.

Re: Cunnigham’s response, it sounds way too familiar and appears to be a democratic party ploy to accuse those who are doing the right thing. Lies and accusations.


This is reason enough to vote Yes on the measure. I wouldn’t put it past the city officials to have done this deliberately so that if/when it passes, they can cry Foul and try to overturn it. The fact that they were the ones to change the wording makes this argument ludicrous, but it still wouldn’t surprise me! Whatever it takes to bring back rental inspections ;and the next thing will be private owner-occupied homes. It’s all about the money.

If this passes, will the Progressives on the Council blame it on the Russians? It wouldn’t surprise me in this city run amok.


I beg to differ. While I, like you, cannot under-emphasize the pure corruption and disregard for the residents of this City by the current City administration, private owner-occupied homes will NOT be the next, or any, step. I will explain why. There is a poop-load of unpermitted work everywhere, we’re not talking about not getting a permit to replace a water heater or furnace, we’re talking about additions, conversions, and remodels that add sleeping rooms. The City wants to squeeze the rental market but would never get in the way of unscrupulous real estate agent who doesn’t do their job, a.k.a most of them, who do not disclose what they know because they know what not to know. This inspection ordinance is a politically and economically, not safety driven. The claim that the application of the ordinance only to rentals that are less than a triplex is because “the state” takes care of them is openly false, just like their illegal modification of B-17. The State of California does not do any such thing. The state has no inspectors for this. The State does have very strict renters rights laws that oblige the landlord to maintain the property per codes that apply to all buildings. Any renter, or neighbor, can file a complaint with the City to enforce state property maintenance codes. If the landlord doesn’t comply, good luck in court. The problem is lack of complaints. The big landlords charge big rents on their complexes where the windows and screens are dutifully replaced every year after being thrashed. The problem is that the desired student housing, then and now, is a reasonably priced funky house with some cool roomies near downtown or Poly. The City wants to “clean up” this problem, money for the City, higher prices for big landlords, crack down on the little ones, it’s a win-win-win.


“Cunningham said in the letter that no intentional fraud occurred.” Give me a break, is he just saying that this was a typo error and no one is to blame? Sounds like it. Everyone knows what is going on. Who submitted the change for approval? I would say that this has Litchig and Dietrick written all over it. Something like this is way out of the pay scale of the current city council. But if it wasn’t then they are just as guilty. This will certainly bring about some additional promotions and pay increases for those at the city who did this. The beginning of a sanctuary city where crime pays.

Business as usual. Is everybody still happy in SLO?


In response to rukidding: “Is everybody still happy in SLO?” … most likely, Oprah will need to be consulted.


Drain the SLO swamp.


This should not surprise anyone…. for the last ten years the city has been filled with elected officials (save a couple) and city administrators who simply wipe their butts with the city code of ethics that are framed and prominently displayed at city hall and the various admin offices.

IMO – the city execs have zero credibility. Given the opportunity they will lie and they will cheat to achieve their goals. SAD, SAD, SAD !!!

George Bailey

I do not trust SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon, or City Attorney Christine Deitrick, and both of these people have shown that they put their personal agenda over the common good.

Kevin Rice was well within his rights to complain, and the opinion by the San Luis County District Attorney’s Office speaks volumes about the political shenanigans of the whacko left. Under Harmon and Deitrick, we will have high taxes, big government and taxpaying citizens will be made to subsidize housing for the lower class.

It might be a newsflash to Harmon and Deitrick, but housing in San Luis Obispo is UNAFfORDABLE for many, and nothing will change that, especially government.

Politicians who play games with our election process ought to be recalled from office and prosecuted, and I would urge Mr. Lee Cunningham to do the right thing and bring criminal charges in this case. Enough is enough.



When do we conclude dishonesty is the rule at city hall, and honesty doesn’t exist? As for the mayor’s defending staff, she eats out of their hands. No surprise there. Staff walks on water according to mayor.


It is amusing when the overlords feud among themselves, but we all know who will eventfully pay, the taxpayers. I’m guessing a raise for Dietrick can not be too far away.