Meanwhile, up the coast a bit, Supervisor Bruce Gibson has a challenger in the upcoming 2014 race.
Muril Clift recently announced that he plans to challenge Gibson for the 2nd District seat in the upcoming June 3 election. Clift is a current director of the Cambria Community Services District, current chairman of the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), and a retired insurance agent.
Clift said he’s become frustrated during his time serving on the Cambria CSD, which has been addressing water woes in conjunction with the county. The source of that frustration? The way Gibson and the county planning department operate. The two had been long-standing friends, and before Clift retired from the insurance business, Gibson was a client of his.
“Over the last two or three years it’s become apparent that he really has been kind of a controlling obstructionist to anything we wanted to do up here,” Clift told New Times. “He expounds the concepts of smart growth, but if you look at the results, it’s no growth.”
The conflict, Clift said, came after tensions arose between Cambria and the county during an ongoing process to address the town’s dwindling water supply. Clift and other Cambria residents worked toward building a desalination plant on the coast, a controversial proposal that was twice rejected by state agencies.
As far as things go between Cambria and the county with Gibson at the helm, the sitting supervisor said he looks forward to Clift putting his issues forward and seeing the two campaign on those issues.
“I’d like to understand specifically what his concerns are there,” Gibson told New Times. “I’ve been working with the CSD for years to help them try to get a source of supplemental water.”
Clift contends that in order to raise funds to put together a solution for Cambria’s water problems, the locality needs to be able to issue new building permits, which will provide an upfront sum in the form of water hook-up fees, and help distribute costs of infrastructure improvements among residents. From the county’s end, Gibson said, the Planning and Building Department needs to see the available resources—in this case, a water supply—in order to be able to issue permits. It’s a sticky situation where revenue for resources and resource availability get caught up in each other.
Asked how his particularly local experience in Cambria will translate to a larger, district-wide campaign that includes other towns and the city of Morro Bay, Clift said he has a particular appreciation for what local agencies, like the Los Osos CSD, have had to deal with over the years.
Gibson said he looks forward to a campaign where these issues come to the table.
“It’s early yet. I’m sure we’re going to have a good discussion on the issues,” Gibson said. “I certainly will be campaigning on both my record of accomplishment in both my record in the district and the county as a whole, and my vision of the future.”
Clift said he planned to file paperwork to form a political action committee on Oct. 16.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay