The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) held its hearing on the city of Morro Bay's application to add the controversial hills outside of north Morro Bay as a sphere of influence (SOI). The intent of an SOI is to annex. The intent of annexation is to develop. The city's claim is it can preserve agriculture and open space by allowing development. LAFCO bought it.
LAFCO had to make two determinations: the first one being the critical one. They had to certify an environmental document. The public submitted overwhelming data—historical, contemporary, primary, and secondary sources—to show the environmental impact report was inadequate. The commission adopted it anyway.
As clear as LAFCO's mission statement is—"committed to serving the residents" of SLO County—objections raised by 900-plus homeowners/residents were not addressed. We read the policies; we read the procedures. Yet the public was guided by "misinformation," as one commissioner put it.
The salt in the wound was the dominating silence from the commissioners. Three of the seven commissioners never showed their faces during the Zoom meeting. There were no names or pictures: just a blank screen. No one asked questions in spite of the extreme controversy. One commissioner suggested topics for discussion, but none of his cohorts would engage. Only three of the decision makers explained their vote.
What has become of open meetings? Why are decision makers hiding? What has become of LAFCO: once an active, inquisitive body serving the people of SLO?