Opinion » Shredder

Rejected, not dejected


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If a city doesn't like a voter petition to put something on the ballot, can it just reject it?

Grover Beach and Paso Robles think they can. Morro Bay, not so much.


In the grand scheme of axes to grind against city policy, a segment of Morro Bay residents have a big one—the proposed battery storage facility that aims to take over the old Morro Bay Power Plant site. Not only do the Citizens for Estero Bay Preservation not want it, the group's members don't even want the Morro Bay City Council to be able to approve the project without first asking for voter consent.

Talk about bureaucracy making the wheels of government turn slowly! Imagine if every development project needed to go before voters. Oy. We'd never get anything done.

Although the ballot measure going before voters in November won't mention the name Vistra Corp. or the words "battery storage facility" or the fire potential residents are worried about (A similar facility in San Diego caught fire and burned for a week because firefighters had trouble putting it out!), it aims to explicitly limit City Council's power when it comes to zoning—or rezoning—in a certain area of the city.

Cough, cough, close to the smokestacks! Duh.

Measure A-24 is positioned as a necessary way to "protect the natural beauty, the tourist industry, the character and tranquility of Morro Bay," as if the tourist town's council members don't want to do that.

At the time the petition was making the signature rounds in town, folks alleged all kinds of things about it, including that it was false and misleading. Like everything on the ballot is true and leading. Hah! But when it came time for Morro Bay to just accept the petition and its signatures and place the measure on the ballot, the city did just that.

Grover Beach and Paso Robles, not so much.

Paso Robles decided that the petition aiming to get voters to turn over some of the controversial parking regulations that Paso's City Council passed wasn't up to snuff. The city clerk "had concerns about the form being used" to gather signatures and the verbiage in the petition? "Confusing" and "misleading" to voters, the city said in its rejection letter.

The petitioners were pissed, but the city also decided to get rid of its paid parking program, anyway. So, what could they do? Bend over and take the win, I guess. And like it!

You know who's not going to bend over and take the win? Grover H2O, which sued the city of Grover Beach for rejecting the multiple petitions it filed over the city's water rates shenanigans and Central Coast Blue. Not only did it sue the city, it prevailed in court! Now, who's bending over and taking it?

Grover Beach, which rejected the petitions for false and misleading information among other things, claimed that a SLO County Superior Court judge's ruling against the city wasn't a big spanking. It was just a "narrow" one. The court didn't rule on whether the statements were actually false or misleading, Grover Beach said in its statement on the city website, the court ruling "indicated" that the city should have challenged the petitions in court—not rejected them outright.

"So there!" Grover Beach practically exclaims.

I'm not sure why the city's insisting on claiming victory, as the court directed the city to accept and allow circulation of the recall petition in question. The spin game is real! It's just not very good.

Seems like if a voter petition is submitted, it needs to be accepted, whether it's false and misleading, from whack-a-doo junction, or used the wrong form or title or whatever. Hash those details out, the judge said, in court.

So, Grover H2O is proceeding with its efforts to recall one of the three Grover Beach City Council members it started out to recall—even though the whole issue at hand was increased water rates and a supplemental water facility that are no longer at hand. Grover Beach voted to walk things back recently, and Grover H2O insists on standing up for that win and its court victory.

Grover H2O spokesperson Debbie Peterson said Councilmember Daniel Rushing is in the group's crosshairs, and if the recall doesn't make it to the November ballot, the residents are going to push for a special election—even though it could cost $300,000.

They don't want to, she opined, but they will if they have to.

"We don't want our city to have to spend that kind of money," Peterson said.

Speaking of money, apparently shopping carts cost $300 a pop! Who knew, other than grocery stores, which seem to be hemorrhaging those little buggies all over the Central Coast. Carts just turn up everywhere.

Street corners, riverbeds, open spaces, sidewalks! They're an eyesore. Full of trash, items pulled out of dumpsters, personal belongings. And in various states of disrepair.

What's a city to do? They have to clean them up, which costs money. Citing the people who stole them doesn't do much. Grocery stores sometimes don't want them back.

With two local cities that have passed shopping cart ordinances that hold stores responsible for their own carts, Atascadero is considering doing the same.

How about a ballot measure to outlaw them instead? Δ

The Shredder's signature pen is ready. Send petitions to [email protected].



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