Karen Bright remains Grover Beach's air board representative

clambert@thetribunenews.comDecember 31, 2013 

Karen Bright

JAYSON MELLOM — The Tribune

Grover Beach Councilwoman Karen Bright remains the city’s representative on San Luis Obispo County’s air board, despite efforts by a group of off-road vehicle enthusiasts to reseat the city’s mayor in the position.

The Grover Beach City Council didn’t give direction to change committee assignments during a special meeting Monday, leaving Bright on the Air Pollution Control District board and Mayor Debbie Peterson as the alternate.

Council members did, however, decide to draft a response to off-road supporters reaffirming their long-standing support of the Oceano Dunes and recognizing the contributions of the riders and their impact on the local economy.

But the response doesn’t go far enough to alleviate concerns held by members of Friends of Oceano Dunes, President Jim Suty said Tuesday. The nonprofit organization advocates keeping the park open to off-highway vehicles.

In addition, the group plans to appeal the council’s most recent action on its long-planned lodge and conference center project to the state Coastal Commission.

Peterson was removed from the air board seat Dec. 16 during a discussion on committee assignments. Shortly after, Friends of Oceano Dunes sent a letter to council members, stating their decision to replace Peterson “has convinced us that our interests will not be protected or even addressed.”

Peterson then called a special meeting to discuss the letter. Bright was ill and did not attend the meeting.

About 25 people spoke on topics including the air board seat, the off-highway vehicle park and the lodge project, city officials said.

On Tuesday, Suty did not sound convinced of the council’s commitment to the Dunes. “If you support us then why are you doing these things that are counter to us?” he said.

For example, he said, the city has proposed improvements to West Grand Avenue that could make it more difficult for large recreational vehicles to drive down the street.

The city has also ignored the group’s concern that the Grover Beach Lodge and Conference Center doesn’t include adequate parking for recreational vehicles, Suty said.

The 150-room hotel and 11,000 square feet of conference facilities are planned for about 13 acres at West Grand Avenue and Highway 1.

As it turns out, the group will have another chance to air its concerns in a few weeks.

The council had unanimously approved a coastal development permit for the lodge project Dec. 2, but a notice of the action wasn’t filed on time with the Coastal Commission, City Manager Bob Perrault said.

The council decided in closed session Monday to reconsider its approval at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by adding Cynthia Lambert on Google+.

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