Council approves revised groundwater sustainability plan

PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles City Council members adopted a revised groundwater sustainability plan at the council meeting on Tuesday, June 21.

In 2014, the California Legislature passed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) for local management of groundwater resources in California through the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and preparation and implementation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

In response, the City of Paso Robles formed a GSA within its jurisdiction along with three other local agencies within the Salinas Valley, including the Paso Robles Area Groundwater Basin (Paso Basin), the County of San Luis Obispo, the Shandon-San Juan Water District, and the San Miguel Community Services District. The agencies are collectively known as the Paso Basin GSAs. 


In June 2021, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) completed their review of the Paso Robles Basin GSP and in January 2022, they declared the basin’s GSP did not meet the sustainable management criteria required by SGMA and the GSP Regulations.

The DWR stated the basin’s GSP lacks justification for the sustainable management criteria for groundwater levels, particularly the minimum thresholds and undesirable results, and the effects of those criteria on the interests of beneficial uses and users of groundwater. Additionally, DWR said the Paso Basin GSP did not demonstrate interconnected surface water or undesirable results related to depletions of interconnected surface water are not present and are not likely to occur in the sub-basin.

In response to the DWR findings, Todd Groundwater was hired for its technical expertise, and adjustments were made to the GSP plan. Council unanimously approved the new plan.

Council also approved ballot measures to be voted on by Paso Robles residents in the November 2022 election. 

On Nov. 8, residents will vote for two council members and a new mayor. Terms for councilmembers John Hamon (District 1), Maria Garcia (District 2), and Mayor Steve Martin will expire in December 2022.

Martin, Hamon, and Garcia have not announced whether they will run for re-election, and no additional candidate announcements have been made.

Some measures will also be on the ballot for residents this fall. 

City residents will vote to decide if the city treasurer position should be appointed. Paso Robles and Atascadero are the only cities in San Luis Obispo County to have elected their treasurer. 

The only qualifications to serve as an elected city treasurer is that a candidate is of age and a registered voter; there is no guarantee that an elected city treasurer will possess the necessary skills and expertise required — which made the council question if they should make the position an appointed one, similar to what they have done for the city clerk position.

Another measure on the ballot will be to decide if the transient occupancy tax (TOT) should be increased from 10 percent to 11 percent. The tax is paid by hotel, motel, and short-term rental guests.

During the April 19 and May 17 City Council meetings, the City Council agreed to move forward with the necessary items to place a TOT increase on the next statewide general election.

The current TOT rate in the city is 10 percent (there is also a 1.5 percent San Luis Obispo Tourism Marketing District assessment [TMD], and 2 percent Paso Robles Tourism Improvement District assessment [TID] for a total lodging assessment of 13 percent). The increase of 1 percent would anticipate revenue to generate $700,000 and $800,000 annually, dependent on the price of the lodging, occupancy rates, and length of stay.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for July 19 at 6:30 p.m.