Vote Yes, Measure J, Dalidio Ranch Project San Luis Obispo County–Or Why The NCSD Is Wrong

Ordinarily I don’t post very much on this blog about issues outside of Nipomo; however, there are times when I make an exception. This is one of those times. What gives this story its local flavor now is a recent voice vote by our locally elected Nipomo Community Services District against Measure J. Below I will comment on that vote as well as why I am recommending that San Luis Obispo County voters vote YES on Measure J, the Dalidido Ranch Project.

This weeks’ Adobe Press (not yet appearing on their website–but give it time) ran a front page story with the headline “NCSD takes vocal stand against Measure J.” The same story appeared in the Santa Maria Times here. The Adobe Press story begins quoting Ed Eby, local environmental activist and NCSD board member:

A unanimous Nipomo Community Services District board took a vocal stand Wednesday against the proposed Dalidio Ranch project based on fears that it could open the door to unplanned growth and divert funding from the Willow Road interchange project in Nipomo.

“As people who have to look out for the welfare of (Nipomo) residents, this is a logical stance,” said director Ed Eby.

Well, that may be logical from Mr. Eby’s perspective; but, that’s not what the voters of Nipomo have elected him or other board members to do. In other words Mr. Eby, it’s not your job as an elected official of the Nipomo Community Services district to look out for my welfare, as a Nipomo resident. Rather, your job as an elected official of the NCSD is to make policy in the areas over which the NCSD has power: Water, Sewer, Lighting, Solid Waste, and Street Sweeping. Noticeably absent on the list of NCSD’s powers is land use planning, not only within the Nipomo community, but certainly not on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo some 25 miles and several independent city governments to the north.

What on earth would prompt our local NCSD board to take a political stand on a issue so obviously and completely outside of their governmental responsibility? Well, let’s take a look at the primary reason as outlined in the NCSD board packets available on their website here, a portion of which states:

OPPOSE MEASURE J

ITEM

Consider opposing Measure J-06 on November 7, 2006 Ballot (Recommend Adopting Oppose Position).

BACKGROUND

Attached is a copy of the Text of Measure J-06, County of San Luis Obispo’s Impartial Analysis of Measure J-06, and the arguments for and against measure J-06 published in the County of San Luis Obispo’s Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet.

RECOMMENDATION

Staff believes that Measure J would result in highway improvement funds needed for the Willow Road interchange being diverted to the Prado Road interchange. It is recommended that your Honorable Board adopt an Oppose Position on Measure J-06.

Well, is that true? Would Measure J result in the diversion of highway improvement funds needed for Willow Road? Will that happen? Surely the NCSD board and staff would have investigated that proposition before making it a political issue, over which, by the way, the NCSD has absolutely no control! The answer to this question is a resounding NO! Our Fourth District Supervisor Katcho Achadjian sent out a special letter dated 10/25/06, apparently to all 4th District residents to set the record straight, and correct the incorrect statements of the NCSD on the Willow Road exchange. You can read Katcho’s entire letter here: Katcho’ Letter About Measure J’s Impact On Road Funding. A portion of the letter stated:

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLO COG) Board makes the decision on how Federal and State money for road projects will be allocated. SLO COG Board is made up of all five County Supervisors and a member from each of the City Councils. We all work well together and we each make a great effort to gain the support of other Board members for projects that are of great importance to our own districts.

The fact is that Measure J will not take funds away (emphasis added) from, nor change the priority of existing county road projects such as Willow Road or other South County road improvement projects because Measure J generate its own funds, possibly a Mello Roos tax district. A Mello Roos tax district would apply to the developed Dalidio property for traffic improvements if Measure J is approved. It is a separate project with a separate funding source for traffic improvements.

Clearly, the rationale upon which the NCSD relied to enter the political fray over Measure J was false. Still, the more troubling question is why the NCSD Board of Directors is taking any position at all on this issue. In my opinion the NCSD Board was way out of line in taking on this issue. Their job, is not land use planning. They should not be taking political sides on a land use issue pending on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo City. I normally support the local NCSD Board in what they do. On this issue I part company. First, it is way outside their job description. Second, they are wrong on the merits of Measure J.

Please visit the Measure J website for a good overview of this project, and its impact on San Luis Obispo County. The County’s paper of record, the Tribune has endorsed The Dalidio Ranch Project, Measure J:

EDITORIAL: From planning to traffic, Measure J passes the tests. It will fulfill the vision conceived by smart planners more than a decade ago

Opinion of The Tribune

To hear the opponents of Measure J tell it, Ernie Dalidio is trying to foist an environmental and traffic disaster on the community.

Unfortunately, his opponents are not letting facts get in the way of their arguments.

Here are the facts, and why The Tribune urges voters to support Measure J:

Measure J will approve a master-planned development that will include shopping, homes and offices, farmers market, organic farm, sports fields, habitat preservation and an extension of the Bob Jones Trail.

This development will generate new sales tax revenue that will help pay for construction of the critically needed Prado Road overpass. And Dalidio will kick in $10 million in property and cash to help fund the overpass and other traffic improvements. No other funding exists on the horizon.

One of the arguments opponents of Measure J use is that the ballot process sidesteps the planning process, and that we have land use planning voters. This is actually quite amusing, because many of those who currently oppose The Dalidio Ranch Project, Measure J on these grounds actually supported a similar ballot land use planning measure years ago. For those who were here in 2000 there was a ballot measure called SOAR, save our open spaces and agricultural resources. For those in our community who oppose Measure J because it is land use by ballot, but also supported SOAR, then you have a short memory.

In this case, the Tribune points out the hypocrisy of this argument:

Ballot box planning

Opponents contend that Measure J circumvents the normal planning process.

We don’t like land-use planning decisions being made through the initiative process; yet, having seen Dalidio whipsawed for 14 years, we understand his frustration and why he chose that channel for project approval.

Dalidio opponents stepped outside normal planning channels when they used the referendum process to defeat the city-approved Marketplace last year. To say that Dalidio can’t seek his day in the court of public opinion using similar tools is nothing less than shameful hypocrisy.

Because of the high costs of the initiative process and the uncertainties involved, it’s doubtful that this will set a precedent for developers to line up and use the same approach.

In fact, ballot box planning has already occurred in the county, but only once in the last quarter century: Voters approved the Williams Bros. shopping center in Paso Robles in 1980 after the city denied the project.

Opponents also claim that to approve measure J would increase the traffic nightmares in the area. The Tribune has a very thoughtful and persuasive analysis on the traffic issues:

Traffic

Opponents allege that Dalidio’s project will generate an unacceptable level of traffic, and that his offer of $10 million for traffic impacts, including $8 million to get an overpass off the drawing boards, is insufficient and doesn’t cover his fair share of interchange costs.

We disagree.

Studies — and common sense — show that traffic problems already exist at the Madonna-101 and Los Osos Valley Road-101 interchanges. These arteries will become unacceptably clogged in another decade regardless of whether a Dalidio project is built.

The answer to that dismal eventuality is to build a Prado Road overpass, a project that’s been on planners’ radar screens for a quarter century. It was a solution that was to be underwritten with sales tax receipts under Dalidio’s 2005 Marketplace plan.

Dalidio’s current proposed project is conservatively projected to generate $3 million a year in property, sales and bed taxes. As in the Marketplace plan, a special taxing district can be created by the Board of Supervisors with bonds secured by the Dalidio property and repaid through those taxes.

We like this approach for three reasons:

• It wouldn’t take money from other county traffic projects because the overpass pays for itself with new Dalidio Ranch tax revenue.

• It wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

• It proactively addresses a 25-year plan for decreasing traffic pressures on the south side of San Luis Obispo — pressures that will lead to gridlock within a decade if not addressed now.

Is $8 million in seed money to get an overpass project started enough of a commitment by Dalidio?

Yes.

There was no similar offer with the Marketplace plan, and there’s no viable alternative being promoted by government agencies.

Whether the county or the city of San Luis Obispo initiates a tax district, there is zero risk that taxpayers will pick up the bond’s cost. Dalidio’s property will be on the hook as collateral. If the property is sold, the bond goes with it as a lien.

Will Dalidio agree to such a tax district? Yes, for two reasons: One, it’s in his own best interests that Dalidio Ranch have optimal traffic flow. Two, Dalidio has had talks with supervisors about creating such a district. He has said he wants one, they have said they would allocate the sales tax to a bond because the overpass would be of overall benefit to the county.

Finally, for those who question the use of Dalidio Ranch sales tax to finance a much-needed overpass, we answer: Improving roads and traffic is a perfectly legitimate use of tax dollars.

Next are the environmental arguments:

Environmental concerns

Opponents say Measure J means the project will avoid the scrutiny of environmental regulators.

That’s simply not true.

What is true is that city and county planners won’t be able to judge the project on its environmental merits. But that doesn’t mean Dalidio Ranch would get a free ride if voters approve Measure J.

The project will be subjected to the stringent nuts and bolts of county plan checking and building permit processes and the project must fully conform to myriad state and federal environmental regulations on everything from asbestos, to air and water pollution issues, to highway concerns and more. Measure J, if approved, locks into place 103 conditions that were taken from the original certified environmental impact report on Dalidio’s 2005 Marketplace proposal.

Bottom line: Measure J doesn’t circumvent environmental review at all.

I think one of the stronger arguments in favor of The Dalidio Ranch Project is that it previously went through the planning process in San Luis Obispo. The City Council approved the prior project by a vote of 3 to 1. Ernie Dalidio has paid his dues. This project went through the planning process in its earlier incarnation. It was approved by the San Luis Obispo City Council. Ernie Dalidio has come up with a well planned project. He owns the land. He has rights as a private property owner to be able to develop that property without having special interest money spreading lies about his future:

Yes on Measure J

Measure J didn’t materialize from the ether regions over night. Its genesis goes back to 1994 when an environmental-oriented SLO City Council decided that commercial growth — subject to annexation — should be allowed as infill on Dalidio’s 131-acre island of county land.

By 2004, the city had approved the zoning and development of The Marketplace. A subsequent referendum reversed that decision.

Dalidio then sought input from an advisory group of community leaders. Vic Montgomery, a principal of RRM Design Group, redesigned a master-planned project, adopting many of the group’s suggestions. We believe the newly designed project is an excellent fit for a parcel that’s surrounded by a shopping center, subdivision, highway and auto malls.

Yet, hyperbole-whipped emotions run high among opponents that Ernie Dalidio and, by extension, his team of architect Vic Montgomery, attorney Michael Morris and public relations director Dave Cox are trying to subvert democracy.

We counter: Why would they? These are good people with deep roots in the community and outstanding reputations. Why would they associate their good names with a less than well-planned and designed project?

• • •

Measure J deserves voter approval because it will fulfill the longstanding vision conceived by smart government planners more than a decade ago.

The Dalidio Ranch project will help finance a substantial portion of the critically needed Prado Road overpass — without it, there is no funding. The project offers amenities that will be a good fit and much appreciated by the community.

Other sources to which I recommend my fellow voters on Measure J:

Dalidio Ranch Measure J Website (Note, there are several excellent links on this site you should also follow).

Measure J Priciest Initiative Ever

Tribune Editorial Favoring Measure J

KSBY Both Sides Speak Out

KSBY Development Surrounding Measure J

Dave Congalton on Measure J

KVEC Podcast on Measure J Debate
To the NCSD Board, I suggest that we get back to work. Let’s keep our eye on the issues truly facing Nipomo. We have a water pipeline from Santa Maria with which we must deal. We have the issue of studying out and developing a plan for a possible desalination plant in Nipomo. In short, there are a myriad of real Nipomo issues with which you should be dealing. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here folks.

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82 thoughts on “Vote Yes, Measure J, Dalidio Ranch Project San Luis Obispo County–Or Why The NCSD Is Wrong

  1. Immediately below is Ed Eby’s response that I received via email at 11:57 a.m., to which I intend to further respond:

    Wrong again, Guy.
    This is not Republican/Democrat, Liberal/Conservative political issue.
    It is a financial responsibility issue. If Measure J passes, it will
    create between 30,000 and 50,000 new vehicle trips in the Prado Road
    area. When (not if) the cars back up on the freeway the County
    officials must declare a traffic emergency and divert funds that could
    be used for Willow Road to build a Prado Road Interchange. The
    developer will get his $4 million back if the interchange project is
    not under way in an impossibly short time. The developer ends up
    paying nothing and the County pays everything.
    When I asked the proponents if they would be willing to pay their fair
    share of the Prado Road Interchange against the actual (eventual) costs
    instead of their low ball estimate reflecting past costs, they said, in
    effect, that they didn’t want to be exposed to the real cost risk,
    should it be higher than their estimates. But they are willing to have
    the County take the risk and pay. (See KSBY tonight for this
    exchange.)
    The AG City Council voted unanimously to oppose Measure J. Do you have
    a beef with them? SLOCOG opposes it for traffic reasons. Do you have
    a beef with them? The Los Osos Community Advisory Council voted 10-1
    against it. Do you have a beef with them? Let me remind you that
    Willow Road is officially in the NCSD Sphere in Influence for all
    powers this CSD may eventually adopt. The NCSD is the only elected
    government entity in this area, and it is very appropriate and
    responsible for its Directors to speak out in the interests of NCSD
    customers, both current and eventual. All five directors agreed.
    This is about the quality of life for NCSD customers, not some abstract
    notion you may have about government responsibility.
    Ed Eby
    NCSD Director
    On Nov 5, 2006, at 10:19 AM, NipomoLaw@aol.com wrote:
    > Upon learning that my local government representatives, the Nipomo
    > Community Services District Board has taken a political position on an
    > issue so clearly outside the boundaries in which they should be
    > operating, I offer my formal written opposition not only to their
    > position; but, the fact they took a position at all. I have posted my
    > comments here.
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Guy Murray

  2. (Note my response to Ed is below, with my comments appearing in italics.

    In a message dated 11/5/2006 11:57:46 AM Pacific Standard Time, edeby@charter.net writes:
    Wrong again, Guy.

    This is not Republican/Democrat, Liberal/Conservative political issue.
    It is a financial responsibility issue. If Measure J passes, it will create between 30,000 and 50,000 new vehicle trips in the Prado Road
    area. When (not if) the cars back up on the freeway the County officials must declare a traffic emergency and divert funds that could
    be used for Willow Road to build a Prado Road Interchange. The developer will get his $4 million back if the interchange project is
    not under way in an impossibly short time. The developer ends up paying nothing and the County pays everything.

    Ed,

    Let’s not change the subject here. I never claimed this issue to be partisan. I claimed that you and the entire NCSD board had and has NO BUSINESS taking a stand on the issue.

    Even assuming all the parade of horribles you outline here in your response (which parade I do not accept), the NCSD has no jurisdiction over, as you call it, “a financial responsibility issue.” If you want to personally oppose Measure J for all the reasons you outline, great. Do so, on your time and on YOUR dime!

    When I asked the proponents if they would be willing to pay their fair share of the Prado Road Interchange against the actual (eventual) costs
    instead of their low ball estimate reflecting past costs, they said, in effect, that they didn’t want to be exposed to the real cost risk, should it be higher than their estimates. But they are willing to have the County take the risk and pay. (See KSBY tonight for this exchange.)

    You still don’t address the issue I raised.

    The AG City Council voted unanimously to oppose Measure J. Do you have a beef with them? SLOCOG opposes it for traffic reasons. Do you have a beef with them? The Los Osos Community Advisory Council voted 10-1
    against it. Do you have a beef with them? Let me remind you that Willow Road is officially in the NCSD Sphere in Influence for all powers this CSD may eventually adopt. The NCSD is the only elected government entity in this area, and it is very appropriate and responsible for its Directors to speak out in the interests of NCSD
    customers, both current and eventual. All five directors agreed.

    Are you elected to the NCSD Board to follow lock step with the A.G City council? At least the A.G City Council has planning powers–though none that allow them to have any impact in on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo’s City limits. Several other city councils and CSD’s (rightly so I might add) have not taken a position.

    The NCSD’s rationale for taking this position as outlined in their board packets was that measure J would take away funds for the Willow Road Project. That was false. Either you knew it to be false before making that the rationale, OR, you didn’t do your homework. Don’t give us the public false rationales for taking questionable political positions as locally elected board. Despite Katcho’s very clear letter to the contrary you still claim in this response that Willow Road funds are at risk here. That is not true.

    And, even if it were true, that’s NOT any business of the NCSD. The fact is that Willow Road while within the NCSD sphere of influence is not subject to NCSD approval of any kind. The NCSD does not exercise road powers, nor is it likely that they will in the immediate future. Perhaps they should–but right now they don’t.

    This is about the quality of life for NCSD customers, not some abstract notion you may have about government responsibility.

    Ed Eby
    NCSD Director

    No Ed. The NCSD isn’t responsible for your abstract vision of the “quality of life” in Nipomo. Stop using the NCSD to further your personal political agenda. It is inappropriate. Speaking of personal political agendas Ed, answer me this question: Who was it who instructed the NCSD staff to work this up and place it on the Agenda to begin with? Was that you?

    Regards,

    Guy Murray
    NCSD VOTER

    On Nov 5, 2006, at 10:19 AM, NipomoLaw@aol.com wrote:

    > Upon learning that my local government representatives, the Nipomo
    > Community Services District Board has taken a political position on an
    > issue so clearly outside the boundaries in which they should be
    > operating, I offer my formal written opposition not only to their
    > position; but, the fact they took a position at all. I have posted my
    > comments here.
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Guy Murray

  3. Below is a further response to my original post. Included in italics again is my reply to Mike Winn’s response.

    In a message dated 11/5/2006 5:32:43 PM Pacific Standard Time, Mike Winn writes:

    I certainly agree with Ed on this, Guy, for a number of reasons.

    Though you did not call this a partisan issue (and some might misread Ed’s initial comments to imply that you did), the opposition to Measure
    J by the NCSD Board was based on principles you should support, even if you reject our conclusions.

    Hi Mike,

    I would likely support some of the principles if the principles had any direct application to the Nipomo area, and specifically the sphere of influence; however, as a matter of practical principle in this particular case, I cannot support what the NCSD did on this issue.

    1) We opposed it because we are the only elected body in Nipomo that has policy-making powers, and that gives us a voice that people respect. We did not dictate to anyone how to vote, but we used the “bully pulpit” to share our views. That’s First Amendment stuff, Guy, and I know you respect the basis for such advocacy.

    The First Amendment has no greater support than I. And, if you, Ed, and the rest of the board want to exercise those First Amendment rights as individuals I think you should do whatever it is you feel–make whatever arguments you want to make in support of or in opposition to any particular political issue.

    You hit the nail on the head in part here Mike. The NCSD used its “bully pulpit” to share what likely are personal political views on a political issue not at all directly related to Nipomo, The Mesa, or the anywhere within its sphere of influence. That, I cannot support. I disagree that the NCSD had ANY legitimate governmental interest in expressing any resolution by the board on this issue. You would have a much stronger argument if the Dalidio project was at least within the 4th District Supervisoral boundary, or even south of Arroyo Grande’s city limit. The NCSD has simply gone out of its way to enter a political discussion in which they really have no legitimate say.

    2) We do not have planning powers and thus do not have a deciding vote for Nipomo on this; but since the State legislature began sharing planning powers with CSDs back in 2001, the law has begun to urge agencies with water planning powers to make sure that land use planning
    takes water into account. Measure J does not do this. It claims that you can’t farm on Dalidio Farm any longer (actually untrue: the Dalidio’s simply will not allow the family who farmed it for years to continue), and they misrepresent the Regional Water Quality Control Board as saying the nitrates from farming are damaging the aquifer; yet Measure J has no responsible means of disposing of waste water. And, if it passes, they won’t have to do more than a cursory analysis.
    Certainly not an EIR.

    The NCSD opposes any proposal to develop without protecting the aquifer. If it’s OK for Dalidio today, it’s OK for WalMart on Willow
    tomorrow.

    Are you suggesting that the Dalidio project somehow endangers the Nipomo aquifer? If so, can you please provide any credible sources that I might review? I don’t recall reading anything in the impartial analysis on Measure J claiming that if this project moves forward that it will somehow endanger the Nipomo Aquifer. If that were to be the case, the NCSD might have had a legitimate voice and opinion to express on the subject. Absent some credible proof of your claim as it relates to the Nipomo Aquifer I see no legitimate political interest of the NCSD.

    It’s none of the NCSD’s business whether the land 20 + miles to the North can be used to farm or not. Or, are you suggesting otherwise? It is after all the Dalidios’ private property. It’s now surrounded by all kinds of development. The project had been approved (perhaps in a different format) but special interest money circumvented the San Luis Obispo City Council and the proper planning process. Mr. Dalidio has some rights here as well.

    3) Guy, you of all people must recognize the value of the NCSD doing what little it can to protect the community from underfunded impact mitigations, especially if we still think to incorporate. If big developers (but not ordinary folks) can pay a PR firm to sell a sweetheart deal to underfund roads and an overpass in Nipomo for which they create a need – and get away with it – the budget for the City of Nipomo will never get into the black. The Dalidio’s and their
    out-of-town backers propose to contribute only $4M in real money, plus some land they say is worth $4M (but no buyer ever would pay that for a bit of Ag-zoned land along 101), for an interchange that SLOCoG and CalTrans say will cost about $49M.

    Fine–let’s fight that yet future hypothetical fight if and when in actually materializes. Until then, I can’t think of any legitimate argument justifying the NCSD’s political intrusion into this particular issue–OTHER than perhaps to more fully disseminate some privately held political opinions. Are you suggesting that Measure J’s passage will impair Nipomo’s future ability to incorporate? I don’t see how. Inventing a hypothetical that doesn’t exist, and most likely will never exist to justify the NCSD’s actions here is not valid.

    Mike, the NCSD board packets clearly stated the reason staff recommend this course of action was some alleged link between Measure J the Willow Road funding. As Katcho’s letter clearly points out, that is simply not the case.

    I understand that the Dalidio’s are not obligated to pay the entire cost – under CEQA, the need mitigate only the percentage of the traffic
    impacts they create – which the responsible agencies (even Dalidio, when it was before the SLO City Council) say is 23-26%. You run the calcs.Taken at the lowest estimate, 23% of $49M is $11.27M; not $4M.

    Guy, if you believe that the NCSD should stand by and allow infrastructure costs here to mushroom for the benefit of the few and to
    the detriment of the many, then who IS going to defend the bottom line for incorporation? The Advisory Council says its bit, but they can be
    ignored: that’s what “advisory” means. The NCSD does not have much clout, but it has some. And we’re trying to use it for the best
    interests of the community.

    Mike, you’ve created a staw man here in Nipomo that doesn’t exist.

    There is room to disagree about Measure J. Even though I’m opposed, I think “our” side has blundered in to daylighting its finances. Even
    though there is no legal obligation, I don’t like that. Further, I do believe that sometime in the next 20-30 years there will be development
    on the Dalidio land, regardless of Tuesday’s vote–though I hope it pays a fair share of its impact fees, not the Measure J deal. Further still,
    I think the entire county voting on Dalidio is wrong for the same reasons the SOAR initiative was wrong–it should be decided locally in
    SLO, not all over the map.

    Despite those caveats, I think No on Measure J is better for Nipomo than a Yes vote. You may believe otherwise, and that’s OK too.

    That is certainly appropriate. As you rightly point out, you and all other NCSD directors as PRIVATE individuals hold First Amendment rights to express their personal private political opinions. You don’t have those same First Amendment rights to express them collectively as a board. The NCSD isn’t in the expression of political opinion business. Furthermore, the project was originally approved locally by the SLO City Council, then overturned by a special interest funded election in opposition to that vote.

    But where I think there should be no disagreement is the principle that Nipomo’s only elected policy agency should use its voice for the public good. That’s why we funded the initial financial study for incorporation (though such is not strictly a water issue), and that’s the basis for our taking an advisory vote on Measure J.

    Are you claiming that funding the initial incorporation study for Nipomo is somehow on the same level as recommending a particular vote on a political issue not even directly relevant to Nipomo? That’s not the basis the public documents disclose was the reason for the NCSD vote. We both know the NCSD funded the initial feasibility study for incorporation because it was an issue directly affecting Nipomo and the CSD residents. It remains such an issue. The NCSD is the logical agency to initiate an incorporation petition when the time comes, for this very reason. The two issues are simply not the same.

    When a board as divided as the NCSD’s votes unanimously, that means something. Please defend our motivation, Guy, even if you don’t like the outcome.

    Cordially,

    Mike Winn

    The NCSD has no greater supporter than I; however, on this issue I cannot and do not support the motivation, regardless of the outcome. I think it an inappropriate use of the NCSD’s power to interject itself as it did in this particular issue. That is why I am speaking out. I wish I had been more careful and paid greater attention to the NCSD agendas, as I would have come personally to comment and oppose this move beforehand.

    Regards,

    Guy Murray

  4. Another comment, below from Nipomo resident Ken Crater, that I received via email from Ken on 11/6/06:

    Hi Guy,

    I have been mad as hell ever since reading in The Tibune and the Adobe Press that the NCSD Board of Directors voted unanimously to appose Measure J. I agree with you entirely regarding your email messages with Ed and Mike. It is pretty obvious that none of the Board did their homework or maybe they had a personal adgenda to defeat this project. I personally do not know Ernie Dalidio but have pledged my support to his proposal. It is too bad the letter from Katcho wasn’t sent out before the oposition from NCSD was printed in the newspapers.

    I was in the Nipomo Chamber of Commerce as an Associate Member just before you came to Nipomo and was the one selected to contact you about becoming a member of the Nipomo Chamber.

    At this moment, I am thinking about voting those board members out of office and getting some people that are interested in getting water for Nipomo.

    Sincerely,
    Ken Crater
    201 Chaparral Ln.
    Nipomo, CA 93444
    kccrater@sbcglobal.net

  5. You have given very badd advice!!!! We all ready voted it don as a citty of san luis obispo Prop J rob san luis boispo of it feel alowing in big buislnes which we do not want!!!! Practly ever one in san luis obispo that you talk to DID NOT WANT J expecaly since for the over pass the would only loan aprocmently 10 persent not pay for it since the create the need it!!!! You forgot all the loop holes!

  6. Comment below by Steve Forst, Nipomo resident, he posted on the Yahoo Group 11/5/06 at 7:46 p.m.

    I am afraid I have to come out of retirement for this argument. Measure J is a bad precedent setting item that I hope goes down to a flaming and memorable defeat. Every area outside of a city in this county that has any representative group or service district should have that representative very loudly shout against this Measure. Why should the residents of North or South County have a voting say over development not in their area. Once this becomes a successful maneuver, then developers all over the county will try an end-run around planning. I can see lawyers relishing this precedent because it will put a lot of litigation money into their pockets. If this passes, I can see a tit for tat of approved measures for building all over the county that will eliminate planning and clog the court system.

    Taking issues to the people to vote on because it won’t pass muster under the regular channels can cause two things. One is a tyranny of the majority and the second is a lot of litigation. To many people vote for issues and taxes based on the principle “if it doesn’t effect me then I am for it”. This is sad but true. Some examples are last years attempt to get the wealthy to foot the bill for universal preschool. The attempt to get the wealthy to pay for mental health facilities. Getting smokers to pay for prenatal education for the poor.

    As far as a County Supervisor stating this will not effect other projects. I can only say that things that look good on the menu do not always arrive at the table as described.

    I am Steve Forst and I approve this message! I would like to hear a candidate say they didn’t approve of their message!

  7. Mike Winn’s further response to me posted on the Yahoo Group on 11/5/06 at 8:47 p.m.

    Guy,

    I would welcome your voice at NCSD meetings. Our agenda are posted on our web site, at the CSD office, and in the Library; and greater community involvement and study of the issues would be a major plus.

    Measure J is a county-wide vote, which will have county-wide implications. The precedent will apply to Nipomo as well as to everywhere else in the county. If this affected only SLO (as you imply), then only they should be voting. And I wish that was what was happening, but it’s not.

    If Measure J passes, Nipomo risks reduced mitigation funding for those that can afford a PR firm. Nipomo incorporation will have a reduced capacity to meet its infrastructure costs for those projects that follow the trail blazed by Dalidio. And though I appreciate Katcho’s assurances and honor his intentions, he has only one vote in five on the Board of Supervisors; and in his letter he was careful to say that a Mello-Roos might fund the exchange. He did not, and could not, guarantee that outcome. Voting No guarantees that it will not happen; if Yes prevails, we must hope it works out.

    Further, the NCSD board did not vote because we had private views that needed a forum. We were – and are – convinced that Measure J, if passed, will harm Nipomo, both in the District and in the SoI. Remember, Guy, that the issue was not staff-generated, and the reason given in the staff report was not our only reason. We had many more, which we discussed when we asked to have the issue agendized and again when the item came up for consideration.

    Katcho’s letter gave such assurances as he could about the funding, but there was no comment in the letter about precedent. Why? Because that is a negative that simply cannot be explained away. And with our vacant land along the 101 freeway and SLO County’s concern about sale tax dollars crossing the river into Santa Barbara County, we are wide open for further evasions of CEQA if Measure J passes.

    If you believe there will no precedent, please explain how you think we could be excluded from the county-wide effect if J passes; because, if it does pass, we’ll have a developer’s version of SOAR. Local voices will not define their community. Anyone who can afford a PR firm and buy advertising copy will appeal to Shandon and Paso Robles, SLO and Morro Bay, to permit their “big box” in Nipomo.

    Well, enough. Not to belabor the issues. Surely there is enough to convince you that the NCSD Board collectively – not five isolated individuals – had what they believed was a threat to Nipomo’s General Plan, and that the General Plan is inextricably connected with water use. We did – and do – believe that is the case, which is why we followed most other agencies and cities in the County in urging voters to reject it.

    Cordially,

    Mike

    PS. You know well, of course, that we and SLO do not share an aquifer; but we do share a concern that an systematic threat to water quality in this county can, if not resisted, happen again and again. You do “get” it. On a grander scale, our Founding Fathers said it best: “United we stand; divided we fall.”

    M.

  8. My Response to Mike Winn via the Yahoo Group on 11/07/06 at 6:14 a.m. My comments are interspersed with Mikes for easier reference. Mike’s original comments are in italics, while mine are block quoted.

    In a message dated 11/5/2006 8:47:53 PM Pacific Standard Time, Mike Winn writes:

    Guy,

    I would welcome your voice at NCSD meetings. Our agenda are posted on our web site, at the CSD office, and in the Library; and greater community involvement and study of the issues would be a major plus.

    Hi Mike,

    I admit my ability to attend is limited; but, missing this meeting was entirely my fault. You are correct that your agenda are publicly posted. I also try to post them over on my Nipomo News blog. I agree with you that greater community involvement and study of all issues would be an improvement. We as the public have a great deal more we can and should do to be informed and participate in the process.

    Measure J is a county-wide vote, which will have county-wide implications. The precedent will apply to Nipomo as well as to everywhere else in the county. If this affected only SLO (as you imply), then only they should be voting. And I wish that was what was happening, but it’s not.

    That is still not a good rationale for NCSD’s involvement here. I would agree with NCSD’s action if for example Measure J might have a direct impact on Nipomo’s Aquifer, or an impact on any other area over which the NCSD has any direct control. But, the truth is it really doesn’t. This is a San Luis Obispo City land use issue. It was originally appropriately decided by the SLO City council–then special interests took the plan off track and polluted the process.

    If Measure J passes, Nipomo risks reduced mitigation funding for those that can afford a PR firm. Nipomo incorporation will have a reduced capacity to meet its infrastructure costs for those projects that follow the trail blazed by Dalidio. And though I appreciate Katcho’s assurances and honor his intentions, he has only one vote in five on the Board of Supervisors; and in his letter he was careful to say that a Mello-Roos might fund the exchange. He did not, and could not, guarantee that outcome. Voting No guarantees that it will not happen; if Yes prevails, we must hope it works out.

    As you know, this is a slippery slope argument, which many times are not good or valid arguments. (This is one of those times IMO). There is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest this course of events–or parade of horribles as I like to refer to slippery slope arguments. Katcho’s letter suggests otherwise–and there isn’t other credible evidence to suggest the contrary, other than opinions of various individuals who are claming otherwise.

    Further, the NCSD board did not vote because we had private views that needed a forum. We were – and are – convinced that Measure J, if passed, will harm Nipomo, both in the District and in the SoI. Remember, Guy, that the issue was not staff-generated, and the reason given in the staff report was not our only reason. We had many more, which we discussed when we asked to have the issue agendized and again when the item came up for consideration.

    I realize there were others discussed; but, the one set forth as the prime rationale just isn’t so. I might add, that none of the other reasons qualify this as an NCSD issue.

    Katcho’s letter gave such assurances as he could about the funding, but there was no comment in the letter about precedent. Why? Because that is a negative that simply cannot be explained away. And with our vacant land along the 101 freeway and SLO County’s concern about sale tax dollars crossing the river into Santa Barbara County, we are wide open for further evasions of CEQA if Measure J passes.

    There hasn’t been any significant history of these types of elections in the past. It is unlikely there will be many, if any in the future. You need a developer with a great deal of money. Still, I think you make the assumption that if somehow the NCSD doesn’t take a stand, on an issue over which they have absolutely no control, such as measure J, that it will go forward. That is a false assumption. You as an individual, and all other people in the community as individuals have the ability to still make these same arguments against Measure J or future types of Measure J’s in the future.

    If you believe there will no precedent, please explain how you think we could be excluded from the county-wide effect if J passes; because, if it does pass, we’ll have a developer’s version of SOAR. Local voices will not define their community. Anyone who can afford a PR firm and buy advertising copy will appeal to Shandon and Paso Robles, SLO and Morro Bay, to permit their “big box” in Nipomo.

    This still doesn’t justify NCSD’s involvement here Mike. If any body could and should have taken a stand on Measure J, it was the SCAC. Their board considered taking a stand; but as a board they specifically voted against taking a stand one way or the other. Although it appears the Chair, Mr. Eby doesn’t seem to think he is bound by his own board’s decisions or the bylaws. He went ahead and publicly opposed measure J in defiance of his board’s vote and direction and in violation of the bylaws. But, getting back to the SCAC, they are the planning body–even though advisory–for our community. They would have a legitimate reason for taking a stand here.

    Well, enough. Not to belabor the issues. Surely there is enough to convince you that the NCSD Board collectively – not five isolated individuals – had what they believed was a threat to Nipomo’s General Plan, and that the General Plan is inextricably connected with water use. We did – and do – believe that is the case, which is why we followed most other agencies and cities in the County in urging voters to reject it.

    I believe that possibly three of the directors believed this way. It is abundantly clear to me that Ed Eby and Judith Wirsing, however, were doing nothing more than foisting their own political beliefs on the NCSD rate payers by taking this action.

    I can understand the temptation for the NCSD to become involved in this issue. But, again it’s a planning and land use issue. My concern is that the NCSD invites more trouble–some of it legal–than it is worth by giving in to the temptation to thrust itself into planning issues such as this. I want the NCSD to obtain more and more local powers, thereby giving we the rate payers more and more local control. On the other hand I want the NCSD to stay out of those areas where they have no legitimate business. This is one of them.

    Again, I emphasize that just because the NCSD shouldn’t take any position on this or other future similar issues–that doesn’t mean individuals in the community can’t speak out. They can and they should. My opposition to this action has nothing to do with my personal opinion on Measure J, which differs from yours. Rather, I oppose what I see as a misuse of the NCSD as what you described as a “bully pulpit.”

    Cordially,

    Mike

    PS. You know well, of course, that we and SLO do not share an aquifer; but we do share a concern that an systematic threat to water quality in this county can, if not resisted, happen again and again. You do “get” it. On a grander scale, our Founding Fathers said it best: “United we stand; divided we fall.”

    M.

    Yes, I do understand that. As and I have already said, if this development were here in the NCSD sphere of influence then the board’s stand might have made sense. But, that is not the case.

    And, let me finally add, on most other NCSD decisions I fully support this board. The NCSD is headed in the right direction. For the most part the board makes common sense decisions and the correct ones for this community. This particular advisory vote as it were by the NCSD is one of the very, very few issues where I think the board has strayed, and is wrong.

    Regards,

    Guy

  9. Judith Wirsing’s comment to my original post via the Yahoo Group on 11/ 6/06 at 11:08 a.m. Note that Judith Wirsing was a Director on the NCSD, when she posted this comment to the Yahoo Group; but, she wisely chose not to run for re-election to that position, likely based on her poor performance in the race for 4th District Supervisor:

    I shuddar to think that the chair of the Nipomo Incoporation Committee is opposed to the NCSD Board’s stand to publicly oppose Measure J. I fully agree with all who have defended our vote. The Nipomo Incorporation Committee should fight for everything it possibly can do to protect Nipomo and it’s future. Guy Murray’s argument causes me great concern for his motivation for the future cityhood of Nipomo and if my concerns are justified, all I can say is “God Help Us.”

    Judith Wirsing,
    NCSD Board of Director and PROUD OF IT!

  10. My response to Judith’s comment via the Yahoo Group on 11/6/06 at 11:26 a.m.

    As usual Judith, the issue seems to escape your grasp. My opposition to the NCSD’s political position on measure J is as a private individual–NOT as co-chair of the Incorporation Committee. Nor did the incorporation committee seek to even consider taking a political position, since that would have been inappropriate.

    There is a difference.

    Regards,

    Guy Murray

  11. My response to Mike after the election results were in on Measure J, via the Yahoo Group on 11/8/06 at 5:53 p.m.

    Mike,

    One last after thought on our Measure J exchange. In light of the actual election results:

    YES Total Votes 49933 64.81%

    NO Total Votes 27117 35.19%

    it is abundantly clear that county voters, in overwhelming numbers agreed with Mr. Dalidio’s vision for his project. I have no reason to believe Nipomo’s residents voted in substantially differing numbers. I think this reflects that the NCSD Board’s position on the measure was entirely out of step with that of its own constituents. I would again urge the incoming board of directors in the future to steer away from such radical advisory recommendations on issues over which they really have no control.

    Regards,

    Guy

  12. Mike’s further response to me on 11/8/06 at 8:16 p.m. via the Yahoo Group on the election results and Measure J:

    Guy,

    In light of the election results, the residents of this county voted to pick up a significant portion of Ernie Dalidio’s impact fees. I continue to believe they were mistaken. I have not looked at precinct results, so I have no idea whether Nipomo’s residents voted in “substantially differing numbers or not”. Until the results are released, I will continue to believe that our residents most wisely voted to the contrary. We’ll see.

    Perhaps I am wrong instead. Perhaps the residents of Nipomo are willing to pick up a portion of the Woodlands’ impact fees, or those of Crystal Oaks or another large-scale development along Highway 101 on land currently zoned Ag. Perhaps.

    But what is more certain is that any developer thinking to pass along his costs to us has been encouraged by yesterday’s votes.

    If that does happen (and I hope it doesn’t), I propose to cash in on it by selling “Don’t blame me. I voted No on Measure J.” bumper stickers.

    With any luck, the developers will instead voluntarily offer to pay their fair share here. And if not, you might cash in on my idea by selling bumper stickers saying: “Measure J? Wazzat? No precedent here.”

    Amused, but with sincere regards,

    Mike

  13. My reply to Mike, on 11/10/06 at 6:43 p.m. after reading that county residents, including those in Nipomo, overwhelmingly supported Measure J. Nipomo’s residents voted 64% in favor with 36% opposing Measure J.

    Well Mike,

    I guess this pretty well puts J into some perspective. It was a clean sweep county wide, including San Luis Obispo City. I give the voters much more credit than do you. It’s the NCSD board which is out of step here–over an issue where they should not even be walking.

    Regards,

    Guy
    SLO County vote tally for Measure J
    Vote Totals/Percent
    Community Yes % Yes NO % No
    Arroyo Grande 4037 68.28% 1875 31.72%
    Atascadero 5661 69.55% 2479 30.45%
    Avila Beach* 597 63.31% 346 36.69%
    Cambria* 1776 71.15% 1320 52.88%
    Cayucos* 860 62.91% 507 37.08%
    Creston* 402 72.95% 149 27%
    Grover Beach 2055 69.19% 915 30.81%
    Heritage Ranch* 525 75.53% 170 24.46%
    Los Osos* 3109 58.1% 2242 41.89%
    Morro Bay 2518 62.16% 533 37.84%
    Nipomo* 2761 64% 1562 36%
    Oceano* 704 70% 303 30%
    Paso Robles 5373 73.95% 1893 26.05%
    Pismo Beach 2176 68.06% 1021 31.94%
    San Luis Obispo 6303 50.79% 6109 49.21%
    San Miguel* 506 73.3% 184 26.6%
    Shandon* 194 72.9% 72 27%
    Templeton* 2273 73.4% 820 26.5%
    County total 49933 64.81% 27117 35.19%

    “Unincorporated Communities
    Source: SLO County Clerk-Recorder’s Office

  14. (Note, below is an email exchange Ken Shamordola, local resident had with me on 11/11/06 at 12:31 p.m. Ken agreed to allow me to publish our private exchange on the blog as a comment. My comments are in italics. Ken’s are in block quotes)

    Hi Ken,

    The numbers are actually from the County Recorder’s office. Do you have some different Stats?

    I have no inside information but a quick scan down the columns revealed that the %YES + %NO add up to considerably more than 100% for Cambria and a recalculation with the votes gives neither of the %numbers. Perhaps a typo at the Recorder’s office.

    Do you care if I publish your email on my blog?

    Here is what I considered posting but decided not to as it was only adding superficial fuel to the fire without constructive input:

    Regarding the official positions of governing bodies on Measure J, it is interesting to simply look at their names. SCAC is chartered to dispense “advice” but they chose not to while the NCSD is to provide service (water, sewer, trash) but they unanimously chose to dispense advice.

    Feel free to use any of my comments as you see fit.

    Ken Shamordola

  15. I was shocked to read in The Adobe that the NCSD had taken a stand on a political issue outside its prevue. (Measure J) The NCSD has its hands full with serious water, sewer, and trash issues. By taking an official stand on an outside political issue they violated the trust of the people who elected them to serve on the NCSD. Now I read Ed and Mike and Judith writing arguments trying to justify the correctness of their position relative to Measure J. That is not the issue. The issue is that the members of the NCSD took a position and as such violated a trust. Their action thus brings on an ethical and moral problem. I am not qualified to comment on the legality of the misuse of their authority. If the national elections of November 7 taught us anything, it is that the public was disgusted with the ethical and moral posture of our elected officials and chose to clean house. As a minimum, the NCSD needs to apologize to the public for its misuse of its authority and pledge not to do this again. We have serious water issues to work on and we need a board we can trust to represent our best interests.

    Rob Veder

  16. Rob, Thanks for your comments. Even though I am very critical of the NCSD Board for taking this position, I think overall most of the time they do a good job at what they are hired to do, i.e., make policy in the areas over which they have governmental control.

    But, your point about the national elections is a good one. Too often those in power forget the obligation they have to the governed. As Thomas Jefferson penned long ago:

    that to secure certain rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    Too often the governors forget this one small lesson. I hope we don’t see a recurrence of this type of activity in the future. Nipomo has a plethora of issues with which it must deal. We don’t need to be wasting our time dealing with issues over which we have no legal control–no matter how great the temptation.

  17. Guy,
    I too believe that most of the time the board does an admirable job. However, I am concerned with the arrogance displayed by the members in their responses to your concerns. To me it seems like they have blinders on. That in itself can be dangerous. Right now, we in Nipomo have major water issues that need to be addressed with clear thinking. I want to be assured that our representatives are not being distracted.
    Rob

  18. My only concern for this project is this:

    Dalidio has tried to get his project built for almost 20 years now. Now, Lowe’s wants to leave the project because home improvement sales in San Luis Obispo are down.

    The only way for Lowe’s to leave is for Dalidio to sell his land, thus Lowe’s and Target contracts will be cancelled.

    Ernie Dalidio has claimed Macy’s, Target, and Lowe’s as his tenet. Take Lowe’s out of the picture, and he’s force to follow Macy’s building requirement and turn the project into a beautiful “new urbanism” regional open-air mall like La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara.

    Macy’s and Target in a regional open-air mall could offer an arcade and food court for teen guys to have fun at, tons of shops for girls to shop together at, and plenty of lower-income stores in one convenant location for families and anyone to shop at.

    Since retail stores are not doing well now in the economy, and we have no mall-stores in our market I believe a mall is a good idea for Dalidio’s land.

    With that all said. A mall only needs to be at 400,000sq. ft. with tons of parking. If he builds 450,000sq. ft. regional open-air shopping mall, and pays a little more for the 101 freeway interchange then perhaps his project will gain more popularity and favoritism. So, Dalidio can sell his land or build a mall. He’s got no other options at this point.

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