Katcho’s Re-election Coverage

The Tribune, paper of record for San Luis Obispo has finally published a story on Katcho’s re-election efforts. The first news broke from the Santa Maria Times, which often scoops the Tribune, at least on south county news. According to the Tribune, Katcho will face two opponents in the upcoming June primary, Chris McSweeny and Judith Wirsing; however, so far there is very little information about, or comment from Mr. McSweeny:

McSweeney couldn’t be reached for comment. His phone number is unlisted and isn’t on file with the county clerk-recorder.

It seems to me that if one is running for County Supervisor, that one would provide some contact number like a cell phone, or maybe even a work phone. I’m not sure of Mr. McSweeny’s campaign strategy in not providing some contact information so the press can interview him and publicize his campaign message.

Ms. Wirsing, on the other hand has predictably come out swinging on the Nipomo “growth” issue:

Wirsing, a Nipomo businesswoman and six-year Nipomo Community Services District director, said she will run against Achadjian in order to slow down growth on the Nipomo Mesa.

“I believe I have a better approach that will get the job done,” she said. “We’re growing too fast without consideration of our resources like the water, roads and our infrastructure.”

She said too many developments have been approved by the county in Nipomo.

Wirsing describes the current Board of Supervisors as generally being pro-growth, and says her platform is “controlled growth.”

“I’m not a no-growther,” she said, “but I’m not for running out of our natural resources, either.”

From this report, it is clear that Ms. Wirsing is running as a single issue candidate: The “controlled growth” candidate. Make no mistake, this is a code phrase for “no growth.” Fortunately for voters, Ms. Wirsing has a long public record of her no growth stance. For the past six years, Ms. Wirsing has served as a director on the Nipomo Community Services District board. She has a long history of denying will serve letters for water hookups to builders on a regular basis regardless of the merits of any given project. Her position has been, and apparently remains that Nipomo’s growth is out of control, and needs to stop. She has campaigned for local office on these issues and continues her quest for county supervisor on the same issues.

Ms. Wirsing claims to have a better approach, but hasn’t defined just what that approach will be. If her past is any indication her approach will be to deny each and every development project as it comes to the board, as her definition of “controlling” growth. Calling the current board of supervisors as pro growth is simply inaccurate. If anything, the current board is more of a “controlled growth” board than anything else. They have already imposed a 1.8 percent growth cap on residential growth in Nipomo. See the Tribune article here:

County law limits residential growth in Nipomo to 1.8 percent per year. For other unincorporated areas in the county, it’s 2.3 percent.

Concerns about traffic and whether water and other government services can keep up with growth led the county Board of Supervisors to make Nipomo’s restrictions stricter.

This is hardly the mark of a “pro growth” board of supervisors. The current cap, according to Olde Towne volunteers and residents has actually inhibited needed growth in the old downtown area of Nipomo:

For the kinds of mixed-use projects of homes and retail envisioned for Olde Towne, the cap means developers are allowed to build the commercial aspects of their projects immediately but have to wait up to five years in some cases to build the residential units.

This conflicts with an effort to revitalize Olde Towne Nipomo with the kind of mix of homes and businesses — with condos or apartments upstairs and stores or offices below — envisioned in the area east of Highway 101.

Developers “are going to bail out because they can’t do anything for seven years,” said Kathy Kubiak, a founding member of the Olde Towne Association. “It’s going to kill the Olde Towne commercial area. Businesses there will leave; it will become a ghetto.”

County supervisors last week asked planners to see if changing the growth-management ordinance and allowing these kinds projects to move forward more quickly would be beneficial to Nipomo.

Supervisors are expected to review possible solutions at a May 9 meeting.

It will be interesting to see how Ms. Wirsing addresses this issue in the coming weeks and months of the campaign. If her past campaigns are any indication, and even as this story suggests, we can expect many meaningless platitudes from Ms. Wirsing: “I’m not for running out of our natural resources.” Which candidate would be for that? Which of Nipomo’s residents want to run out of natural resources? When running for the NCSD Ms. Wirsing would postulate that she was for clean, safe, and affordable water for all residents. Well, ok. Who wouldn’t be? We need a supervisor who has more than to offer than simplistic platitudes.

Katcho has a long public record of controlled growth for Nipomo, as reflected in his statement to the Tribune:

Achadjian says he’s ready to contest the race and he’s not worried about raising money if a run-off election results.

He also says his work for the South County has been beneficial. He said he’s controlled new construction but hasn’t called for a building moratorium.

“I’ve put the brakes on in regards to Nipomo’s growth,” Achadjian said, relating his oft-used metaphor for the South County.

“I can go on a diet but if I got on a starvation it’ll kill me,” he said. “So I go on a balanced diet and I’ll maintain my nutrition and be healthy and I’ll lose weight.”

He said he’s worked to enact a growth cap specific to Nipomo; he’s been part of efforts to lower that growth cap by a half-percent; and he’s helped institute a community-based transfer of development credit program to prevent sprawl.

I’m hoping that there will be several public forums where the candidates can and will interact with each other and the public. One immediately comes to mind: The Dave Congalton Show. You can contact Dave through his blog at the preceding link. Suggest that he have these three candidates as soon as possible, and as often as possible.
Having opportunities for the three candidates to personally present their positions to the public, and answer direct questions from the public about their positions, and the basis for those positions will be indispensible in helping inform voters about the issues facing Nipomo and how they will address those issues. One of the most important issues Nipomo faces in the near, and even longer term is more local self-control of its destiny. I know from personal experience in my work with incorporation in Nipomo that Katcho has always been supportive of Nipomo assuming more local control. He has always been supportive of those individual volunteers and committees working toward incorporation. He has provided guidance and influence where needed to help local residents obtain information and education on incorporation issues.

Ms. Wirsing, on the other hand, has on several occasions expressed her opposition to incorporation efforts. She has written several letters to the editor in the local newspaper expressing this opposition. As a director on the NCSD board she has likewise been either opposed to incorporation efforts or slow to embrace the concept.

I don’t know Mr. McSweeny’s incorporation position; however, I would like to know his views. If he stops by, I invite him to leave a comment or two and help enlighten us on his ideas for Nipomo.

Much is at stake in this election. The voters should pay attention to the three candidates, and ask probing questions, while demading meaningful answers.

2 thoughts on “Katcho’s Re-election Coverage

  1. Nobody reads the Santa Maria Times or their throwaway weeklies. Look at the shooting coverage. Doesn’t even compare. Santa Maria’s was weak.

  2. Hi Bob . . . It may be the case that overall the Santa Maria Times’ news coverage is weaker than that of the Tribune; however, it is also the case, on several stories I have read over the years, that the Times will often scoop the Tribune in stories than otherwise are in the Tribune’s back yard. This particular story is an example. The Tribune was scooped by the Times, the paper which first published an article about Katcho’s reelection opposition.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting

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