Oceano fire tax fails after recount

April 15, 2020

Oceano Community Services District’s attempt to implement a $180 annual flat-rate special fire tax to property owners through a recount of a vote that lost by a slim margin, has failed.

The Oceano 911 Committee asked the San Luis Obispo County Clerk Recorders Office to recount ballots from the March 2 election. County staff conducted the recount on April 2.

During the recount, staff discovered one ballot where yes was circled rather than filled in. As a result, the fire tax gained one vote for a total of 1,295 in favor of the measure and 663 against.

The tax measure, aimed at allowing Oceano to remain part of the Five Cities Fire Authority, required a two-thirds voter approval to pass, or 66.7 percent.As a result of the recount, the measure failed 66.1 percent to 33.9 percent.

If passed, the initiative would have added $15 a month to property tax bills in Oceano.

Since 2010, the Oceano Community Services District has been served by the Five Cities Fire Authority through a joint powers agreement with the cities of Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach. Over the course of the past decade, the fire authority has experienced financial challenges.

Because of the failed initiative, it is likely Oceano will leave the fire authority, and San Luis Obispo County will take over providing fire services to the community. The district will remain in the Five Cities Fire Authority until June 30, 2021.


“…the authority has faced financial challenges.” Indeed. Shoals and Nicolls, in a last-ditch effort before Shoals left office, hired an unqualified administrator under the guise of “Captain” – a campaign manager and crony of Adam Hill, and best friend of the now-in-hiding former Grover Mayor John Shoals – Steve Lieberman. Lieberman can’t act in the role of Captain because he isn’t trained or educated or experienced to do so. He is a drain on the system who insists on large pay raises. We need a real firefighter as captain. Time to clean house.


Just for clarification I think you mean “chief” not “Captain” in your response.


It’s not like Oceano residents will be without fire services. They just wont have to pay yet another tax.

I know two families who live in Oceano and neither one of them can afford another $15 a month. They’re barely making it as it is.

Mitch C

The idea of having Oceano exit from the Fire Authority is just plane wrong. Whatever their monetary contribution it is a plus to the Fire Authority. There are enough retired former government managers avail to do a management and financial audit of the situation to make operational recommendations to the decision-makers utilizing available staffing and funding from all three agencies.

To eliminate Oceano from the Fire Authority will create many unforseen problems. Count on Arroyo Grande coming up with a ballot measure in the not to distance future to cover fire service expenses.


Paavo put the screws to Arroyo Grande for years by cooking the books on his billing. It didn’t take him long to exit stage left once the gig was up and it was clear Oceano couldn’t afford him much longer. Current leadership in AG most likely wants to keep on with the FCFA but the truth is they can’t afford it and need to face the fact. Who thinks voters are going to vote for a sales tax increase and further subsidizing the sinking ship FCFA, especially in light of the financial distress many are experiencing with COVID-19?

Last Individual

And the winner is Mitch C for use of the most buzzwords in a single sentence to say essentially nothing. Way to go Mitch. That third sentence is amazing.