Grover mayor's seat on air district board will be up for discussion

clambert@thetribunenews.comJuly 18, 2013 

Debbie Peterson

JAYSON MELLOM — The Tribune Buy Photo

The Grover Beach City Council will decide next month whether or not to keep Mayor Debbie Peterson at its representative on the county’s air district board.

Councilman Bill Nicolls requested that the council hold a discussion on committee assignments at its next meeting, referring specifically to Peterson’s seat on the 12-member county Air Pollution Control District board, which she’s held since January.

“I think we have a problem with your continuing to represent the council on that committee in view of what has taken place over the last month,” Nicolls said toward the end of Monday’s council meeting.

Council members Jeff Lee and Glenn Marshall agreed to Nicolls’ request. The item is tentatively scheduled to come to the council Aug. 5. Marshall is the council’s alternate representative on the air board.

On Thursday, Peterson said she didn’t feel as though she overstepped her position and said she was speaking as mayor but not representing the council’s or the city’s views.

“I think in this case the council was concerned because they didn’t want it to appear as though it was a council position,” she said.

Nicolls’ request came at the end of a lengthy meeting featuring a heated debate on a dust-control rule requiring State Parks to reduce particulate pollution from the Oceano Dunes off-highway vehicle park.

Peterson, who in early July authored a petition urging repeal of the rule at the request of a local group, Grover Beach United, asked the council for feedback in advance of an air board meeting next week.

On Wednesday, the air board will consider proposed fees requiring State Parks to pay $49,240 a year, mostly for the air district to monitor and review air-quality impacts.

The debate during Monday’s meeting, however, didn’t focus solely on the fees but included comments about the dust-control rule and the science behind it, the economic impact of the Dunes, the motives of air district staff and public health concerns.

While she received strong support from local residents and business owners, Peterson did not get the same reaction from her colleagues, some of whom suggested that the fees are appropriate and did not share her desire to revisit the dust-control rule, known as Rule 1001, which was approved in November 2011.

Peterson said she wrote the petition urging repeal of the rule, but she believes it instead should be reconsidered in light of “information that they didn’t have or hadn’t received at the time of their decision.” She also does not believe that State Parks should be required to obtain a permit from the air district.

“Rather than throw a bunch of money at APCD to monitor the monitoring that State Parks is doing, I would rather see those funds go toward research and mitigation,” she said. “I think that’s in the best interest of people on the Mesa.”

When asked whether she felt she should step down from the air district board, Peterson said she did not and added: “Do you want representatives on your board who don’t speak up? We shouldn’t be trying to shut each other down.”

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