SLO County’s battle over polystyrene could shutter the IWMA

April 14, 2021

IWMA legal counsel Jeffrey Minnery


San Luis Obispo County’s waste agency voted Wednesday to continue the countywide polystyrene ban even though the majority of board members voted to end it, leading several agencies to voice their plans to leave the agency.

Divided along party lines, the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) voted 7-6 to repeal a countywide ban on polystyrene. However, several of the losing voters demanded a super majority vote of the board, which legal counsel Jeffrey Minnery approved, leading the IWMA to decide the polystyrene ban would continue.

The IWMA is a joint powers authority made up of one representative from each of the county’s seven cities, all five members of the SLO County Board of Supervisors, and one representative for the county’s community services districts.

SLO County supervisors John Peschong, Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton voiced concerns with seven cities having the power to control county residents who may have different political views.

After a caller accused those in favor of the polystyrene ban of acting like slave owners, Supervisor Peschong called the allegation over the top.

During the last two meetings, supervisors Peschong and Arnold noted plans to pull the county out of the IWMA if they continued to force ordinances on communities they were not elected to represent. Paso Robles Councilman John Hamon agreed, saying Paso Robles would likely exit the IWMA with the county.

Currently, five of the seven cities in SLO County — Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo — have existing polystyrene bans. Each of the ordinances prohibit restaurants and stores from providing food in polystyrene containers, while the IWMA ban is far more restrictive and includes prohibiting polystyrene meat trays.

While it appears likely three to four of the IWMA’s 13 member agencies will pull out, it is unclear if the agency will continue or when members plan to exit.

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Yes it is true.This was a very unclear situation.we should ask Tom omaley, ex atascadero mayor why he resigned from the noarf and sudendly disapeared ftom public lifr

Let’s not forget that it was the rampant theft of IWMA funds by its manager and others that was at the center of the lawsuit against CalCoastNews, which came close to shuttering this news site and nearly ruined Blackburn and Velie financially. The district attorney looked the other way as ratepayers’ money disappeared into personal purchases by staff. Dow looked the other way when a well-known private investigator proved that case was won through perjury: “I don’t do perjury,” he said. “No one does.” IWMA should have been dissolved then. And where is the DA’s promised “report” on the forensic audit of the agency which clearly showed criminal behavior? He’s been keeping it under wraps for unknown reasons.