Drought conditions worsen in the county

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors held a regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 9 a.m. Due to some technical difficulties, Supervisor Peschong relocated from his remote teleconference location to the meeting room.

The consent agenda was passed 5-0, followed by the proclamation declaring Oct. 3 to 9 as National 4-H Week in San Luis Obispo, Oct. 24-30 as Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, and the month of October as Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month.

James (Jim) Taylor was recognized upon his retirement from 35 years with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office. In his comments about his time with the Sheriff’s department, he mentioned the diversity among the employees in the Sheriff’s department and that leaving it more racially and ethnically diverse than the county population.

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Public comment for items not on the agenda focused on the opening of the Kansas Ave safe parking location and the improvements still needed to be made there.

Next, the Board heard a 60-day update on the drought conditions following the proclamation of a state of local emergency made in the Jul. 13 Board meeting. San Luis Obispo is still in a D3 drought with some areas of D4. The upcoming forecast is a “La Niña” year, meaning that the county will see minimal rain in conjunction with high temperatures, puts the county into a dire circumstance in regards to water. The immediate and long-term impacts of the drought pose a threat to the health and welfare of county residents and a negative impact on the economy of San Luis Obispo.

Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg inquired about when the county turns the corner to look into new ideas for water conservation and production.

Item 17 was eight proposals and resolutions to amend or establish agricultural preserves throughout the county. All eight items were approved individually by the Board.

Item 19 was an added item from the last meeting of the Supervisors regarding the appointment of the County Clerk-Recorder. The direction from the Board was for staff to return with seven applicants for the position, and since, as stated by law, the position does not require experience in the position that was not listed as a requirement. Staff returned three applicants for the position, and it was brought to the attention of Supervisors by members of the public.

“In today’s divisive climate, it is more important than ever to work to restore citizen’s confidence in their government by showing that we do follow the process.” Stated Supervisor Debbie Arnold. In reading the minutes from the volunteer review board, there were only three names moved forward for in-person interviews, but there were four additional individuals listed as candidates but not moved forward for in-person interviews. Supervisor Arnold suggested adding those additional names which would achieve the seven candidates requested without taking more time from staff or volunteers.

Public comment on the item came from both sides of the discussion. Half the comments urged the Board to continue with only the three names presented and stating that adjusting the results now would be bringing in less qualified candidates, overlooking the work that the review committee did. The other half of the comments expressed the desire for the full seven names to come forward, as directed to staff by the Board in the motion made, and that failure to do so instills doubt in the minds of citizens about processes being followed.

Supervisor Peschong iterated the need to have the direction of the supervisors followed and that while he does not have doubts about the integrity of the elections within the County, the issue is simply that processes be followed as instructed.

Chairperson Lynn Compton asked staff what the next steps would be if the Board interviewed the three candidates and could not come to a majority vote. Staff advised that the next steps would be up to the Board, and they could pull more candidates from the original group, interview the full 44 applicants, or go back and invite more applicants to submit their names.

The motion was made by Supervisor Arnold to bring back all seven applicants that were suggested during the review committee, with a second by Supervisor Peschong. The motion failed 2-3.

The meeting then went into closed session. The next meeting of the Supervisors will be held on Oct. 12 to conduct interviews with the three candidates presented by the review committee. The meeting links and agenda can be found on the District’s website when they become available slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Board-of-Supervisors/Board-Meetings,-Agendas-and-Minutes.aspx