Public raises concerns over allocation of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 grants
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, May 17. During this meeting, supervisors considered the adoption of a resolution that proposed putting County Charter on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.
Many members of the public voiced their opinions on the possibility of transitioning to a county charter. San Luis Obispo County is currently a general law run county — as are the majority of counties in California.
On Dec. 7, 2021, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to proceed with the process to have the board consider the adoption of a County Charter to be considered on the Nov. 8 election ballot.
While general law counties mainly adhere to state laws as to the number and duties of elected officials, charter counties have a limited degree of “home rule” authority that may provide for the election, compensation, terms, removal, and salary of the governing board. The charter would not affect ruling over the sheriff’s office.
Current charter counties in California include Alameda, Butte, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tehama.
The majority of public commenters wished to keep the county’s government ruling the way it is and disagreed with moving forward with the possibility of a charter county.
District 1 Supervisor John Peschong clarified, if put in place, no safeguards can be placed on the charter. It cannot be modified in any way.
Following public comment, Supervisor Peschong said he would not be supporting the charter proposal and motioned to postpone the subject indefinitely.
However, he admitted, “I actually thought it was a pretty good idea when Orange County did it. But it does look like the Constitution does bar us from putting in some safeguards to allow it to happen. At the end of the day, it’s not a good idea.”
District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold seconded the motion.
District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson wanted to further pursue the conversation of independent redistricting but was supportive of not forcing staff and use of taxpayer dollars to further pursue the charter.
Ultimately, all the supervisors approved Peschong’s motion to postpone the charter county proposal indefinitely.
Concerns from the public were raised regarding the issuance of granted funds represented in consent agenda Item 9. Supervisors pulled the item for a separate discussion.
Item 9 was the staff’s request to approve funding allocations for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) nonprofit grants meant for those contributing to community health. Addressing homelessness was a priority for the board when considering allocating the funds.
Several nonprofits who applied for the grant and were denied the funds issued complaints that the application process was unfair. Some of those nonprofits included the Paso Robles Youth Arts Center and Boys & Girls Club.
During public comment, El Camino Homeless Organization President and CEO Wendy Lewis said they are in consideration to receive the funds.
Supervisor Peschong motioned to table the allocation of ARPA funds for 30 days to discuss with the nonprofits how the funds can be better allocated. The motion was passed unanimously and will be brought back for discussion on June 21.
The next regularly scheduled supervisor meeting is scheduled for June 7 at 9 a.m.