California uses an un-republican process for filling county board vacancies. Interested candidates apply to the state for appointment, and bureaucrats select two or three for the governor’s consideration.
This process will eventually produce a person to serve the final few months of the late Supervisor Paul Teixeira’s term. The appointee would also become the District 4 incumbent during the June 2014 election. National statistics show incumbents hold a large advantage in local races, particularly low-spending ones.
New Times sent five prominent applicants for the vacant seat questions about three divisive issues: the groundwater crisis in Paso Robles; enforcement of the county’s dust control rule at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area; and the adequacy of PG&E’s proposed seismic testing programs. We limited their pre-edited responses to 55 words.
New Times: Should the county pass an ordinance to limit new water use in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin? A. Yes, for the whole basin. B. Yes, but only east of Paso where wells are going dry. C. No.
Michael Winn, former Water Resource Advisory Committee chairman: A. Yes, except for the Atascadero sub-basin.
The particulars of the “urgency ordinance” need definition. Some draft features—e.g. no new wells—are clearly enforceable and would effectively provide breathing space for crafting a long-term solution. Other features—e.g. regulating crops—may not be legally enforceable. The board must work further with stakeholders and the Water Resources Advisory Committee for a more comprehensive solution.
James Harrison, Nipomo Community Services District president: A. Yes, for the whole basin.
The county needs to take a greater role in obtaining supplemental water for this basin. SLO County has an allotment from the State Water Project that could be used to mitigate some of this problem. In the meantime, it is necessary to take action to limit the over-pumping of the basin.
Mark Millis, Lucia Mar School Board president and former Arroyo Grande mayor: A. Yes, for the whole basin.
We must find a way to provide enough water for people and agriculture. The groundwater basin is interconnected and does not know city limits. The time has passed for peaceful adjudication of the basin. This may require a court-ordered solution. Band-Aid solutions are not the answer. A long-term permanent solution must be found.
Caren Ray, Arroyo Grande City Council member: A. Yes, for the whole basin.
Evidence is clearly showing the basin is in crisis. It is vital that the Board of Supervisors act quickly to protect both the residents and the economic viability of viticulture. It is the first step toward a careful and comprehensive plan to ensure the long-term economic vitality of the entire basin.
Dan Woodson, South County Advisory Council chair: A. Yes, for the whole basin.
The emergency ordinance should be approved immediately, and it should cover the entire basin, although it may be too late. Judging from the South County experience, an adjudication process has been going on since the ’90s and is yet to be fully resolved.
NT: Is Rule 1001 the right way for the county Air Pollution Control District to address harmful fugitive dust blowing off the Oceano Dunes? A. Yes. B. For now, but let’s review the data. C. No.
Winn: A. Yes, but the rule is not the only tool available. The Board of Supervisors should facilitate mediation between State Parks and the APCD, and should initiate a citizens’ blue ribbon committee to help craft a long-term transition plan for the use of the dunes (not instead of applying the rule, but simultaneously).
Harrison: B. Yes, with review and monitoring of the program to determine any effect on PM-10 concentrations downwind. I’m not totally supportive of the APCD implementation of the additional charges to the operator of the off-road vehicular area that have been proposed. A plan needs to be agreed on by APCD and the operator to reduce the emissions.
Millis: B. For now, but let’s review the data. We need to obey state and federal laws regarding air pollution from dust blowing. The people’s health must be our top priority. We also know that many people enjoy the dunes, and that helps our community. We need more public and scientific input to find some creative solutions using the best available technology.
Ray: (No letter selected.) Supervisor Teixeira voted for Rule 1001 on behalf of District 4, and his replacement should not dishonor his decision by overturning it.
Woodson: A. Yes. It appears that Rule 1001 was adopted in November of 2011. Those arguing against the rule seem to be concerned about the Temporary Baseline Monitoring Program and appear to want a monitoring program that would not be of sufficient accuracy to determine the true state of PM-10 contamination. Meanwhile, dust plumes encroach on the mesa.
NT: Would you support PG&E’s seismic imaging project if it came back for approval next year? A. Yes—the utility’s first attempt was sufficient. B. It depends on what they come back with. C. No.
Winn: B. It depends on what they come back with.
Harrison: B. It depends on what they come back with. The effort needs to be made to determine if there is a seismic problem that cannot be mitigated. Is this plant safe or not? I am open to hear whatever the utility has to say about the situation as well as other scientific information that may be available.
Millis: B. It depends on what they come back with. We do not yet know the final results from the seismic imaging project. We are near many earthquake faults. We must make as sure as humanly possible that the plant is safe to operate. The plant produces essential electrical power statewide. It is also an important part of our county’s economy.
Ray: B. It depends on what they come back with. Careful study needs to be done to ensure Diablo Canyon’s continued safety and reliability as it moves through the relicensing process. I look forward to seeing how they propose to acquire new data while still respecting the very valid concerns of the environmental community regarding the impact of their study methodology.
Woodson: B. It depends on what they come back with. If, as some advocate, they are looking for oil deposits, I would oppose the project. If they are trying to refine the mapping of the Hosgri fault, I would ask why. If they are searching for new faults, I would support the project.
SLO County residents can send letters of support or opposition to Patrick Henning, Chief Deputy Appointments Secretary, 1315 10th St., Sacramento, CA 95814, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Staff Writer Patrick M. Klemz offers his sincerest apologies to Mr. Henning. Send Klemz your crowd-sourced opinions at firstname.lastname@example.org.