Opinion » Shredder

Sue everyone!



What's happening down in Grover Beach?


It seems like former Mayor Debbie Peterson wants to make the decisions there. She could have been doing just that on the Grover Beach City Council she seems to have a vendetta against, but instead, she quit in 2019.

While quitting, she alleged corruption of both the city and SLO County. She accused her colleagues of "double dealing" in appointing people to serve on regional waste and wastewater management agencies' boards, of "pay-to-play" for awarding commercial cannabis business licenses, and of "insider games."

Then she wrote a book about everything!

The Happiest Corruption: Sleaze, Lies, and Suicide in a California Beach Town claims to uncover it all, capitalizing on former 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill's suicide and all the corruption allegations and charges that followed. Don't worry, Aaron Ochs, I'll give your book about antagonizers akin to Peterson a shout-out too—Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community and Those Who Dared to Fight It. He was talking about CalCoastNews and Karen Velie.

What's up with the people around here? Does everyone need to write a book about SLO County's shitty small-town shenanigans because all of the largely mediocre fish in extremely little ponds just can't stand to be out-fished? Everyone's upset about something.

Now, Peterson's continuing her quest to "rid" that California beach town of alleged corruption, leaning on her hang-ups about the Central Coast Blue recycled water project (something Grover Beach agreed to participate in while she was an elected official). She got the members of her "grassroots" organization, Grover H2O, to pony up the dough to sue the city of Grover Beach!

Grover H2O sued the city clerk, city attorney, and one City Council member over election tampering due to the way the city handled its recall petitions against three council members and repeal initiative over increased water and wastewater rates due to Central Coast Blue. That's quite a charge!

The city apparently rejected the petitions five times in the winter and spring of 2024—and always on the last possible day at the last possible minute.

"Each notice of rejection impermissibly and illegally demanded the removal of language that was false or misleading," the lawsuit states. "In petitioners' experience, it is highly unusual to continuously wait until the last minute to reject a petition. ... Petitioners believe the city clerk's actions were intended to obstruct and delay the electoral process."

Whew. That's a lot.

I guess if petitioners want to include false, misleading information in their initiatives or recalls, they can? We can look no farther than Morro Bay and the initiative that city voters will decide on in November about zoning, the City Council, and visitor-serving uses. Really, it's about stripping power from the elected body. It's about preventing Vistra from developing a battery storage plant on the land that holds a defunct power plant. The initiative itself uses unclear language, makes misleading statements, and is kind of vague.

But that's what citizen initiatives are all about. Even government-sponsored ones, like Gov. Gavin Newsom's baby, Proposition 1, which voters passed, are vague and do more than they claim to on the surface. Our funding for county mental health services is going to hemorrhage back to the state, and no one really knows what the full impact of that that will be. All anyone heard about was all the money California was going to put toward housing the homeless—not the services that would be losing out to it.

Really, though, I don't understand why Grover H2O is moving forward with anything at all. The group got what it wanted. Grover Beach City Council voted to pull out of Central Coast Blue on April 22 and is going to look at its water and wastewater rates again. The lawsuit was filed on April 26.

So what does Peterson really want? To try to recall City Councilmember Zach Zimmerman for voting to raise rates to pay for Central Coast Blue—but he recanted. The principle of the matter is no longer on the table.

Lawsuits seem to be the way to get work done outside of the traditional political processes if decisions don't go people's way. Democracy be damned!

After SLO city business and property owners threatened SLO County over a proposed location for a temporary housing project designed to give roofs and services to homeless individuals, they got what they wanted. SLO County moved its Welcome Home Village to a spot that's more welcome to it—at least for now.

Instead of the Department of Social Services housing the housing, the Health Agency campus will house the housing. An LA-based lawyer was critical of the county's initial plan, saying it hadn't thought through zoning issues that would require a comprehensive environmental review. Funnily enough, the county didn't mention the letter, the lawyer, or the disgruntled property owners in its press release announcing the new location.

Surprise, surprise!

Although Homeless Services Division spokesperson Suzie Freeman said the underlying zoning at Social Services prevented residential use "altogether," the county touted this new location's proximity to all of these really great services.

At least the Welcome Home Village is going to be run by an organization that knows what it's doing, Good Samaritan Shelter. Fingers crossed it isn't a clusterfuck like the county's safe parking site program was. The lawsuit over that one is ongoing. Δ

The Shredder is a legal beagle. Send advice to [email protected].


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