Rural Camp Ordinance to be reviewed and amended in October

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met for a regular meeting on July 19, where District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold requested the declaration of the Statewide Primary Election results to be pulled from the consent agenda for a separate discussion.

“I still have some unresolved concerns about the accuracy of the ballot counting,” said Arnold. “Some of my concerns stem from the recent changes to the election process, including all mail ballots, the use of drop boxes, and the use of machine tabulations.”

Arnold further explained she believes changes made to the voting process have made it less secure.


County Clerk Elaina Cano went through the ballot counting process. Unverified signatures or questionable ballots are returned to the voter to go through a secondary verification process.

Cano’s staff report included the following information on the counties voter turnout for the 2022 Primary Election:

As of the 15-day close of registration, SLO County had a total of 181,894 registered voters. Turnout for this election was 48.58 percent, which exceeded the state average of 33.12 percent. San Luis Obispo County came in with the 12th highest turnout of all 58 counties, 10 of which had 74,000 or less registered voters. It is also significant to note that of the 88,357 voters who voted in this election, which equates to over 170,000 cards that were processed and counted, 97 percent (85,706) returned their VBM ballot, and only three percent (2,651) voted in person. This was a record-breaking number of cards to process, count, duplicate, adjudicate and store.

The exact cost of the election had yet to be finalized, but over $1 million was budgeted for the election.

Arnold asked Cano several questions regarding SLO County ballot security. By law, the Board of Supervisors is responsible for voting to declare the election results.

Does our machine have a rank choice feature — answer, No. 

Can we open the machine to check for a chip modum — Cano said she is unable to answer technical questions relating to the machines but said the system is certified by the state.

Do we have a contractor that cleans up our voter rolls — The county is responsible because the California Secretary of State is the system of record, so the county utilizes VoteCal, which is managed by the state and is updated minute by minute. 

Do we have security cameras at the drop boxes — Drop boxes are located inside city libraries, city halls, community services districts, or county offices and are staffed or also have camera security. 

“For me, I won’t be supporting this today,” said Arnold. “I am not supportive of the changes to our election process, and I think they have created so many vulnerabilities that the public is losing confidence in the election process.”

The Board of Supervisors certified the election results with a 4-1 vote.

The only voting business on the agenda regarded the rural camping ordinance.

According to the county staff report, the rural camping ordinance would allow landowners to rent campsites to the public on their privately-owned parcels as long as they do not create disturbances to neighboring properties.

The current ordinance allows limited camping in rural areas but limits the camping to organizational camps and seasonal camps that are incidental to primary agricultural use. 

Additionally, the ordinance only allows camps in rural lands, recreation, public facilities, and agriculture land use categories — excluding properties in the rural residential and residential suburban land use categories where landowners are expressing interest in rural camping.

The county will be looking at amending the ordinance to expand rural recreation and camping provisions to rural residential and residential suburban parcels as small as two acres in size. 

The proposed amendments would also establish density limits (campsites per acre) based on the parcel size, setbacks, and minimum standards to address health, safety, and sanitation standards.

District 1 Supervisor John Peschong motioned to bring the rural camping ordinance to the priorities report at the Oct. 4 meeting. The motion passed with a 5-0 vote.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 9 a.m.