Grover Beach is hoping to become the second city in San Luis Obispo County to cut its cord with the state.
On a 3-2 vote July 16, the Grover Beach City Council voted to place an initiative on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would give the city the authority to switch from a general law to a charter city.
Such a move gives cities like Grover Beach the opportunity to step outside the shadow of the state and enact a local charter, as opposed to general law cities, which generate all their authority from the California Constitution. Charter cities also have the ability to save money by skirting prevailing wage requirements on projects that don’t use state or federal dollars. But the prevailing wage piece has proven a sticking point in the area.
Mayor John Shoals and Councilwoman Phyllis Molnar voted to not send the proposal to the ballot. Following concerns brought by union representatives and construction trade employees, Shoals and Molnar seemed worried about undercutting prevailing wage for all local projects.
“I think this should be a little bit more comprehensive,” Shoals said.
Union representatives argued to city officials that prevailing wage is, in fact, a good way to ensure quality work and fair wages for local projects.
“The law was passed to protect the community and the workers,” said Steve Weiner of the Tri Counties Building & Construction Trades Council.
In fact, the same issue derailed Arroyo Grande’s charter dreams. City officials there were rocketing toward their own charter ballot initiative for November, but the City Council voted June 12 to halt the process.
Grover officials held two public hearings before the final vote on July 16. With City Council approval, city staffers will get the proposal ready for voters in November, which will include impartial analysis of the proposal. City councilmembers added some small tweaks to the proposed charter to rename the mayor pro tem position to vice mayor and to clarify job qualifications for the city attorney position.