Before residents had the chance to voice their opposition or support for changes to two South San Luis Obispo County advisory councils, newly elected 4th District Supervisor Paul Teixeira decided at the Board of Supervisors meeting on March 15 to indefinitely withdraw his controversial proposal in order to continue discussions with community members.
As one of his first major policy decisions since taking office in January, Teixeira placed an item on the agenda that would have modified county guidelines for how South County communities are represented and how council members are determined.
Citing a lack of communication between advisory groups and the residents they’re elected to represent, Teixeira proposed disbanding both the South County Advisory Council and the Halcyon/Oceano Advisory Council and replacing them with a new council to represent the entire fourth district.
The South County Advisory Council (SCAC) is currently comprised of 16 elected volunteers and represents the greater Nipomo and South County Planning Area. Teixeira proposed creating a new council of 11 appointed members: two apiece for the areas of Arroyo Grande, Oceano, and Nipomo; and one each from Corbett Canyon, Edna Valley, Halcyon, Huasna, and Suey Creek.
Advisory councils act as an avenue for citizen participation in matters concerning county policy. Council recommendations are sent to the Board of Supervisors or Planning Commission for consideration, but aren’t binding.
At a special meeting March 9, the SCAC voted 10-2 to ask the board to reject Teixeira’s plan. The council’s chairman, Dan Woodson, said that under Teixeira’s proposal, representation wouldn’t be evenly distributed. An area such as Suey Creek, which is home to only a couple hundred residents, would have one appointed representative, while Nipomo—with its population of much more than 10,000—would have only two.
Teixeira did not return New Times’ requests for comment as of press time.
Roughly 70 county residents from both sides of the debate packed the board chambers at the SLO County Government Center. About four hours of public comment were lined up before the item was pulled.
“I respected you and voted for you,” former SCAC member Kevin Beauchamp told Teixeira. “I would not make this your first pass at working with us in the community.”
Others echoed Teixeira’s sentiments that the advisory councils had become sources of contention involving too many people, often leaving many residents—namely younger ones—disconnected.
“Paul was elected to bring change to the South County,” said Arroyo Grande resident Bob Blair. “This council only represents a small segment of the community.”