San Luis Obispo adopts budget, opts not to defund police

June 4, 2021

BY JOSH FRIEMAN

Despite calls from members of the public to defund the police and shift money into other programs, the city of San Luis Obispo is increasing the SLO Police Department’s budget.

On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo City Council adopted a two-year financial plan consisting of budgets of approximately $173 million and $174 million for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 respectively. SLO’s major city goals for the next two years are: economic recovery, resiliency and fiscal sustainability; diversity, equity and inclusion; housing and homelessness; climate action, open space and sustainable transportation.

Within its approximately $100 million per year general fund, the city is budgeting $19.1 million for the San Luis Obispo Police Department in 2021-2022 and $20.1 million for the police department in 2022-2023. In the last budget cycle, police department operations totaled $17.6 million in 2019-2020 and $17.8 million in 2020-2021.

Police department funding accounts for approximately 25% of the operating expenses within the general fund, which is more than any other city department receives. The Public Works Department accounts for the second largest portion of general fund operational expenses, 19%.

One new addition to the police department will be the expansion of the Community Action Team (CAT) to include a second social worker in order to improve public safety and social services in the downtown and creek area. The team currently consists of one officer and one social worker. The city is budgeting $118,688 and $116,188 for the next two years respectively in order to add the second social worker to the CAT.

Meanwhile, the city is embarking upon a pilot program dubbed the Mobile Crisis Unit, which will handle encounters with chronically homeless individuals. The Mobile Crisis Unit will consist of a social worker paired with an emergency medical technician.

The unit will respond to non-emergency 911 calls involving homeless individuals, which is intended to reduce law enforcement and paramedic encounters. The city has budgeted $300,000 for each of the next two years for the Mobile Crisis Unit.

City officials say they plan to spend approximately $126 million on capital improvement projects over the next five years. Among potential capital improvement projects the city is considering building a new police station.


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fredpacker

I’m sorry, but this local “abolish the police” group is absolutely insane. Have you seen the crazy crap they are promoting? “Don’t reform the police, abolish them outright and abolish prisons too while you are at it.” Clearly none of them have ever spent time in a high crime area. Do they think all the gangs, mafia, MS-13, cartels, etc will just nicely lay down their arms and pass out tulips once we abolish the police? Check out their crazy Instagram page: https://instagram.com/calpolysqe


obispan

De-funding the police is not the first thing you do it’s the last thing you do. After all of your magical social programs make the police unnecessary I will glad to be the first person a laid-off officer asks if I want fries with that. Don’t hold your breath. Unfortunately we will be needing more and more police to protect us in an increasingly dystopian society.


Maven

Defund BLM


kayaknut

The snowflakes are going to melt.


Buchon

Can you even imagine just how big of a boondoggle the new SLOPD Station will be? Whew! Gotta keep up with the SLO City Fire Department!


Build! Hire! Build! Hire! Build! Hire!


I can already envision the grey stucco. The black sheetmetal trim. The oddly sloped roof. The weird signage. It’s going to be huge and opulent — yet hideous.


Slosum

Most citizens just want to have a safe, clean community with filled potholes. The city goals ignore all of that. Nothing “inclusive” about it. Jeez.


womanwhohasbeenthere

$100,000+ for a social worker to talk to homeless people? Where do I apply?


paragon

Eh, have you ever talked to some of the homeless people around here? You are welcome to it! You couldn’t pay me twice that much to do that job.


Buchon

You mean the ones that become highly agitated when you dare mention “40 Prado” while they’re hustling you?


Francesca Bolognini

Not sure where you are getting the figures. A team, means 2 people working at a time. Given how many homeless we have, that would likely be a busy, 24 hour job. So, there will need to be more than one shift in a day. Two or three. Then there are needed supplies, both medical and practical, vehicles and maintenance, Back ups for when a worker is unable to respond. Dangerous work, actually, so insurance, definitely. During any sort of crisis, there will be a need for extra teams available. That budget sounds pretty tight once all that is figured in. But it will seem totally worth it if it ever came to a crisis happening any where near your house. And such a response would probably eventually lead to more people getting into programs that get them off the streets., which would be far cheaper in the long run! .


mazin

Salaries and benes are too high, particularly administrative and supervisorial … great officers but just paying too much.


commonsenseguy

After all of Harmons’ grandstanding, bloviating, and demeaning of her own Police Department, the reality of facts slaps her upside the head. She has a long way to go to improve the division and racism she caused in the community. There wasn’t a problem until she helped to create one. Double talk as always. Over the last couple of weeks many more business have announced their future closing. Another residual of her failures as a leader.


Michael Stove

So racism is never an issue unless one discusses it? Or is it that racism just didn’t exist here?


Did SLO just escape the racism that affects the rest of the nation? Or was it just because it was so homogenous race wise until recently when African/Hispanic/Asian Americans moved here.


Buchon

Interesting attempt at spin, but no sale.


“African/Hispanic/Asian Americans” have lived in what’s now San Luis Obispo at differing levels from the very beginning.


Please stop trying to gin-up racism in San Luis.


Michael Stove

Ah thanks for clarifying that racism was just never a problem here in SLO. It is definitely an outlier. That is escaped the pervasive racism that has affect every corner of our country. Really helpful.


fredpacker

If racism is a problem in SLO, then it should be easy to provide specific examples of racism occurring here, as well as providing measurable metrics of what “good” looks like, in other words how can we track the effectiveness of measures to make the city less racist and how will we know when the racism problem has been solved? So far, all that has been said is vague “SLO is racist. All police are racist. We need to get rid of the police.”


The only claim of racism anyone seems to be able to offer is the DA’s prosecution of Arata for her protest, but since her protest was about alleged racism in SLO, unless she was clairvoyant it seems quite circular to assert that she was preemptively protesting the response to her own protest. Also, since no other protest group in SLO has ever blocked an entire freeway and hers did so twice, it’s hard to establish what the SLO law enforcement baseline police response to such behavior would be to prove that their response to her behavior was indeed racist.


slo-to-load

The article doesn’t mention it, but the budget was passed unanimously, so yes Harmon voted for it. Despite her posturing, even she realizes that a sufficiently funded police force is an essential service. It’s only the random nut jobs looking for attention that go around calling for the police to be abolished, but do they really think their community counselors can help them the next time an active shooter inevitably pops up?