Members of the Grover Beach City Council chose not to take sides on a ballot measure that would ban fracking and new oil and gas drilling in SLO County.
At a Sept. 17 meeting, the council voted 4-1 to remain neutral on taking a position on Measure G, which has become one of the most divisive countywide initiatives placed before local voters in November.
"I'm inclined to think that this is a decision for each of us as individuals to make in the county, and I don't think I can speak for the community fairly by voting one way or the other," Councilmember and mayoral candidate Debbie Peterson said.
Both supporters and detractors of the measure attended the meeting to make their case to the council. Those who wanted the measure to pass argued that it would protect the county's groundwater and mitigate other harmful environmental impacts caused by fracking and oil drilling.
"Those who support this measure do not wish to see a very small group of people profit substantially while jeopardizing the water and quality of life for people in SLO County," said Dominique Dashwood, a Cal Poly student and member of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County.
Opponents of Measure G claimed its passage would have a negative impact on the local economy and would result in the loss of jobs.
"The citizens of Grover Beach do not need some vocal environmentalists to set city policy," Grover Beach resident Gene Quayle said. "Our citizens are intelligent enough to make their own decisions about oil production and Measure G."
Councilmember Mariam Shah was the lone vote against remaining neutral. She was skeptical of claims that the measure would result in the loss of jobs, and raised concerns about fracking and drilling causing environmental disasters.
"If something terrible does happen and I had the chance to vote to stop it and didn't, I don't know if I could live with myself," said Shah, who is running for re-election.
In addition, the council also voted unanimously to remain neutral on Proposition 10, a statewide ballot measure that would allow California municipalities to pass rent control ordinances by repealing decades-old legislation that imposed restrictions on rent control in the state. Δ