Governing Philosophy / Issues
Public Health & Safety
Protecting our community against rising crime and improving emergency response times is priority No. 1. Having grown up under a police officer’s roof, I have a deep respect for law enforcement and believe in the need for strong public safety.
Public Health – Air Quality on the Nipomo Mesa
Last May, the San Luis Obispo County Health Commission wrote the Board of Supervisors a letter, outlining in detail the serious risks of exposure to PM10 silica dust, calling out State Parks’ “very slow and ineffective” efforts, over years, to mitigate the hazard. In its own words, the Commission states: “Nipomo Mesa residents remain exposed to very acute, chronic and cumulative health impacts.”
The Air Pollution Control District (APCD) has tried to secure compliance with health requirements and standards. Larry Allen, the District’s former Director has pushed for the Board of Supervisors to place on its agenda the need for immediate mitigation of the air quality health risks, but the board majority, including Lynn Compton, has refused. The board could take a hardline approach with State Parks using the 550-plus acres of County-owned land (the La Grande Tract) as leverage to ensure that mitigation is implemented. Instead of selling the land to State Parks as recommended by Compton, I will vote to retain ownership of the land and use it is as leverage to ensure the proper mitigation is completed.
Public Safety – Sheriff’s Substation
Lynn Compton negotiated a backroom deal with a developer leaving Nipomo residents with only half of a Sheriff’s Substation. As Fourth District Supervisor, I will bring the skills and experience necessary to manage the Sheriff’s Substation project to completion. In addition, I will not be compromised in my decision-making because of my commitment to not taking money from developers.
Roads & Infrastructure
South County deserves a supervisor who knows how to plan, fund, design, and build public facilities and infrastructure. As a construction project manager for the last 10 years, building projects like new parks and road improvements to relieve traffic congestion is in my blood.
I bring over a decade of planning and building experience working on public facilities and infrastructure projects. I worked on projects for SLO County, Butte County, Kings County, Del Norte County, the State of California, and the City of Santa Monica. The skills I acquired while planning, funding, designing, and building these important public projects are what I will bring to the Board of Supervisors every day when working hard to make the improvements we need.
As Supervisor, I will address our many infrastructure needs including Highway 101 congestion relief near Pismo Beach, improvements on Highway 227, the Highway 101-Tefft Street interchange in Nipomo, and the Highway 101-Brisco Road-Grand Avenue interchanges in Arroyo Grande. These are public safety issues that have been ignored for too long. Funding and building the park improvements and recreation center needed in Nipomo is a top priority – all projects that will benefit from my skills and experience.
Position on Senate Bill 1
Due to passage of Senate Bill 1, agencies in San Luis Obispo County are expected to receive $10 million per year in additional funding for road maintenance. SLOCOG also plans to move forward with major projects, including much-needed improvements to the deadly Cholame Y.
SB 1 is a major source of funds for improving our roads and infrastructure locally. The California Transportation Commission recently approved $261 million in state transportation money to repair roads and improve infrastructure in San Luis Obispo County. The commission’s decision gives the region the most state transportation money it has ever received, according to the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG). Not only will the money go toward fixing the deadly Cholame “Y” intersection on Highway 46, where another tragic accident occurred leaving two dead, but the funds will go to projects that benefit District 4, including Highway 101 congestion relief near Pismo Beach, short-term improvements on Highway 227, Highway 101-Tefft Street interchange improvements in Nipomo, and Highway 101-Brisco Road-Grand Avenue interchanges in Arroyo Grande. Notwithstanding the deaths at the deadly Cholame “Y,” which has been dubbed “Blood Alley,” with the type of traffic congestion we see on the Highway 101, accidents go up, injuries go up, and deaths occur. For the price of what may be a cup of coffee a week, lives can be saved and quality of life for commuting residents will go up. For these reasons, I support SB 1, and will fight to ensure that District 4 receives every penny that has been allocated to it. In addition, I will use my planning and construction background to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
To support our small businesses and protect our local workforce and families, we must proactivity address our housing crisis. I will work to make housing more affordable through low impact solutions that won’t outpace our infrastructure, overburden our water supply, or destroy our beautiful open spaces.
The lack of affordable housing has been identified as the single greatest threat to a sustainable local economy. The County is grossly underperforming in its responsibility to provide affordable housing as evidenced by its failure to meet state-mandated goals. The Board of Supervisor’s vote on December 12, 2017 to reject proposed revisions to the County’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO), which had broad-based community support (including the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, Economic Vitality Corporation, and Homebuilders Association), underscores the Board’s lack of interest in addressing the problem.
In addition to supporting the County’s IHO, as the Fourth District County Supervisor, I will support implementation of housing policy that incentivizes construction of next-generation housing. Our County ordinances currently prevent (or disincentivize through costly fees) construction of truly affordable housing solutions such as tiny homes and accessory dwelling units (“granny” units). Our policies should incentivize these homes by reducing or eliminating fees for those who are willing to incorporate energy and water conserving measures. This is the right time especially in the wake of a new state law that went into effect on January 1, 2018 requiring local jurisdictions to essentially allow accessory dwelling units by right.
There are plenty of innovative ways to address the affordable and workforce housing crisis. What we need is the desire and leadership to get us there.
Long-term Water Security
With continuing drought conditions, we need a 4th District Supervisor who has the skills and experience to develop a long-term water solution. Innovative solutions such as treating and using our wastewater instead of sending it out to the ocean and desalinization can be implemented with the right leadership.
It is my firm belief that the residents of District 4 are most concerned about our water security. With continuing drought conditions, we need a Board of Supervisors that is focused on developing a long-term water solution. Whether it is desalinization using and upgrading the plant at Diablo Canyon or the existing plant at the Phillips 66 Oil Refinery, our leaders need to move forward with real solutions. Of course, conservation comes first, and there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that our wastewater is reused. This is why I support the Central Coast Blue project, a local water sustainability project that will create a new, high quality, and reliable water supply for our Five Cities communities, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, and Oceano. Agencies representing the Five Cities communities are designing and building a new advanced water purification facility to create a high-quality water source to supplement local supplies. This project will allow the Five Cities to have sufficient supplies even in times of water shortage or drought. This project, however, will not bring additional water to Nipomo. Therefore, it is vital that our leaders work toward generating additional water sources for Nipomo residents.
As 4th District Supervisor, I will work to resolve the litigation that has ensued between the Five Cities, the Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD), and other water purveyors in Nipomo that has obstructed the ability of our local communities to work together to develop a strong regional approach to addressing our water needs. I will ensure that the County – in conjunction with the NCSD – works to implement a streamlined and cost-effective greywater promotion program that incentivizes residents to implement greywater systems to conserve our water supplies. Finally, I will make decisions with regard to new residential and commercial developments that take into consideration our scarce water resources, instead of approving projects to appease campaign donors.
Preventing Offshore Drilling
It is imperative that our County take a firm stance against offshore oil in order to preserve our scenic beaches and local tourism economy. Rather than relying on the energy sources of the past, we should be focused on developing clean renewable energy that will protect our environment and empower our local economy.
I do not support offshore oil exploration and drilling off of our coasts, or an increase in onshore production. I believe it is imperative that our County take a firm stance against offshore oil in order to protect our scenic beaches and local tourism-based economy. I am also focused on a forward-thinking agenda, which entails transitioning our nuclear energy powered economy to a post-Diablo Canyon renewable energy-based economy.
Mental Health & Homelessness
After the tragic death of Andrew Holland and others in our County Jail, it is clear that our County needs reform. Improving services for those experiencing mental illness and homelessness must be prioritized instead of ignored.
Mental Health Services
As stated by Jill Bolster-White, Executive Director of Transitions Mental Health Association, in her recent viewpoint in the SLO Tribune, “The death of Andrew Holland was a community tragedy that exposed failures in our systems of treatment and incarceration. Mr. Holland’s case reflects our collective failure as a society to provide effective and humane help for the tens of thousands of our County residents who suffer from mental illness. Yes, tens of thousands of our fellow residents need help. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five people experience a mental health condition. In our County of 280,000 residents, that suggests 56,000 of our friends and neighbors struggle with mental illness.” The article goes on to say that the County’s two facilities for mental health crises, the 16-bed Psychiatric Health Facility and the new 4-bed Crisis Stabilization Unit, will still be inadequate to serve the entirety of this vulnerable population.
As the Fourth District County Supervisor, I will work to ensure that our County has a dedicated psychiatric care facility at the County Jail. Due to a federal mandate requiring inmate population realignment, inmates were transferred from our state prison system to our local jail. California jails now have the responsibility for supervising certain kinds of felony offenders. This has turned many California jails – including ours – into de facto prisons. Similar to a prison, our jail needs a psychiatric care facility staffed with experienced psychiatric technicians, psychiatric nurses, and physicians.
I also think we need a seasoned prison level jail administrator – similar to a warden – to guide our jail operations while updating jail policies and protocols that reflect the changes in our jail population. This would be someone with the knowledge, experience, and training to deal with the influx of mentally ill inmates. This administrative role will ensure more transparency and accountability.
In addition to building partnerships between the public and private sector to work together to address the lack of services available for people with mental illness, the best way to ensure that these reforms are implemented is to establish them as County budget priorities. Only when we have a Board of Supervisors that makes mental health reform a priority will we comprehensively be able to implement the reforms needed.
The Tragedy of Andrew Holland
The treatment and death of Andrew Holland is a tragedy of epic proportion. Those involved must be held accountable. Our most vulnerable, including those suffering from mental illness, have been grossly under-served in this County for far too long. We need to restore transparency and accountability to our local government, and we need elected officials who are interested in making the changes we so desperately need.
When something tragic occurs such as this, it is incumbent upon the elected San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, who constitute the accountable legislative authority, to do their job. The board should have asked for a full, complete, and transparent formal investigation. This investigation should have been followed by issuance of a transparent report of what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and which officials and employees failed to follow administrative procedures and adhere to standards of common decency and respect for human rights.
An independent outside investigator should have been used. The fact that the FBI is conducting an investigation does not relieve the board from the responsibility to conduct an investigation of the systemic failures in operations, management, communication, and accountability that the County admits occurred. Accordingly, I support an independent investigation, which will determine whether County employees should be disciplined.
As part of its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, SLO County conducts a census of its homeless population every two years, which also ensures that the County continues to receive funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for shelters, services, and permanent supportive housing. The census conducted in January 2017 found 1,125 homeless persons in SLO County, many of which were veterans. This is unacceptable. We can do better.
Many of the organizations that are doing the hard of work of serving our homeless need more funding. According to Janna Nichols at the Five Cities Homeless Coalition, the programs they are implementing work well – they just need more funding for additional housing and services. For example, the 50 Now program that serves the most vulnerable of our South County homeless population, has been successful and achieved program performance metrics. Why not make it the 100 Now or the 250 Now program? While the Prado Day Center and Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter (the “Homeless Shelter”) operated by CAPSLO provide a great service to those in San Luis Obispo, people experiencing homelessness in South County do not get the benefit of these services. The South County’s People’s Kitchen and Five Cities Homeless Coalition, which also run the Warming Center at Hillside Church, do great work, but more housing and services are needed.
First, our County supervisors need to show that they are serious about addressing homelessness through County budget priorities. Second, we need to bring new ideas to the table to identify additional sources of funding to improve existing programs and fund new programs. Pay for Success programs are an innovative way to leverage private investment to build housing and provide more services for those who are chronically homeless. In addition, partners such as Hope’s Village of SLO should be given all of the resources the County can offer to ensure their projects come to fruition. Finally, the County should implement the City of Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program, which gives panhandlers a chance at a change in life and provides caring members of the community with a better way to donate their money.
Thriving Local Economy
Closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant
The County Board of Supervisors have appropriately supported State Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham’s efforts to co-author SB 1090, legislation that would give San Luis Obispo County the full $85 million settlement for economic mitigation initially proposed by PG&E in its plans to shutter the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant by 2025. The plant closure will be followed by a decommissioning process that is anticipated to take approximately ten years. The plant currently employs approximately 1500 employees with reported average salaries of approximately $157,000 per year. It is imperative that the County do its best to ensure that PG&E’s employee retention program is comprehensive in nature and will enable a smooth transition to other jobs for the numerous employees who have made the Central Coast their home. It is also essential that planning take into account job transition strategies for all of the building trades that have worked at PG&E over the years.
The County has also appropriately supported the Economic Vitality Corporation’s efforts to analyze and manage the overall economic planning of the closure. The Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) is a non-profit economic development organization serving all of San Luis Obispo County. In its role, the EVC will select and oversee one or more consulting firms to help the community mitigate the negative impact to our local economy by completing an economic impact study of effects caused by the impending closure and developing in collaboration with community stakeholders a regional economic strategy. The first phase will entail completion of economic and fiscal impact analysis of the plant’s closure. The second phase will entail completion of an economic strategic and implementation plan that unifies the region under a collective vision and guides County leaders in the development of a coordinated economic strategy that fosters strong regional partnerships. I am eager to 1) expedite this process and 2) ensure that it is completely transparent to the public. So many livelihoods depend on a smooth transition into a post-Diablo Canyon economy.
In addition to economic planning, the County should continue negotiations with PG&E to ensure that the plant site is repurposed in a way that will benefit the community at large. I recently toured the plant with PG&E representatives to discuss plant decommissioning and future site uses. Future public use of the existing desalinization plant, repurposing of PG&E’s many high-tech office buildings and facilities, preserving land for public access and recreation (e.g., hiking trails to Montana De Oro), and turning the site into an incubator for renewable energy pilot projects in partnership with Cal Poly were among the discussed potential site uses. It is imperative that the public weigh in on the process currently being undertaken by PG&E through their Citizens Engagement Panel to garner public input on site repurposing. As Fourth District County Supervisor, I will work to ensure that the public is engaged to the full extent possible in developing the plan to repurpose the site.
Downtown Revitalization in South County
I am extremely passionate about revitalizing Olde Towne Nipomo and the Oceano business district. I’ve been thinking about Olde town for the last 11 years. In 2007, I developed a community design plan – while studying City and Regional Planning at Cal Poly – for East and West Tefft St. in Nipomo. I am excited to use my ten years of practical planning and building experience to bring business owners, residents, and other community stakeholders together to revitalize our District 4 downtowns.