A discussion of a new sheriff’s substation in Nipomo turned into a snipefest at Tuesday’s San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting — providing newly seated Chairman John Peschong with his first parliamentary challenge.
Among the exchanges: Supervisor Adam Hill claimed Supervisor Lynn Compton acted on behalf of a South County developer in negotiating the deal for the substation, rather than representing her constituents. Specifically, Hill accused her of having dinner at a “nice” restaurant with the developer, during which time she was further persuaded to act on his behalf.
“First of all, I went for a hamburger,” Compton fired back, adding that the substation was not discussed at all at dinner.
Compton also pointed out that Hill had accepted campaign money from the developer.
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“Yes, I did. So did you,” Hill shot back later.
“I’m saying you did the bidding for this developer,” Hill said.
Compton, who represents Nipomo, said the agreement was a win for the county.
“This is something Nipomo needs,” she said. “Don’t mess with this.”
Asked for her assessment of the agreement, County Counsel Rita Neal said, “If I didn’t think it was fair, I wouldn’t have recommended it go forward.”
At a couple of points, Peschong attempted to move the discussion forward but was rebuffed.
“I’ve got to clear my name here, Mr. Chairman,” Compton told him.
The debate stemmed from an old agreement between San Luis Obispo County and the developers of the Woodlands subdivision on the Nipomo Mesa. The project, formerly called Woodlands Village, is now known as Trilogy at Monarch Dunes — a mixed-use development that includes about 740 homes, a business park and golf courses. As a condition of approval, the developer was required to provide the Sheriff’s Office with approximately 3,000 square feet of office space and parking for about five vehicles in or near the project’s village center. The space was supposed to be made available before completion of the second phase, which is nearly finished.
Since that condition was drafted, needs have changed. Sheriff Ian Parkinson says what’s needed is a 6,000-square-foot substation in downtown Nipomo — not in the Trilogy residential development.
More recent negotiations with Trilogy resulted in a compromise: The Sheriff’s Office will be provided with a small office at Trilogy for report writing, which the county can lease for $1 per year until a substation is built is Nipomo. Also, the developer will contribute nearly $600,000 toward construction of a larger substation in Nipomo.
Compton noted that the original condition of approval was ambiguously written, and Trilogy argued it owed the county no money at all.
“We got them to come up with half a million dollars,” Compton said.
Supervisors Hill and Bruce Gibson saw the agreement as a boon for the developer and a bad deal for county taxpayers.
A 3,000-square-foot substation would cost at least $1 million to build, Gibson said, and now, taxpayers will be stuck picking up the difference.
When Compton feigned surprise that Gibson would be so concerned about residents of her district, Gibson responded, “I’m going to bat for the county taxpayer.”
“That would be a first,” Compton responded.
Ultimately, the board voted 3-2, with Hill and Gibson opposed, to accept the agreement.
The testy exchanges came just a short time after Hill had been passed over for the board chairmanship in favor of Peschong. In the past, the chairmanship usually has rotated among the five supervisors, but this year, the board decided to scrap that tradition.
Several speakers urged supervisors to elect Peschong because he would better represent the conservative agenda. There also were complaints that Hill has been rude to the public; a couple of speakers described themselves as Hill’s victims.
But other speakers urged the board to put partisanship aside and stick with a rotation. Some also commended Hill.
“I’ve seen him fight for good causes and I believe in his integrity,” South County resident Bruce Severance said. “Let’s have a forgiving heart and move forward and give this man an opportunity to do his job.”