Board OKs hiring of consultant to improve airport services

In an effort to turn around declining ridership and income at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to hire a $31,000 consultant.

General Services Director Janette Pell called Sixel Air Consulting Group of Eugene, Ore., “a successful air service development firm.”

Sixel has provided passenger figures and other services for the local airport since 2002, Pell wrote in a staff report to the Board of Supervisors.

The contract could cost between $20,000 and $31,000.

Should Sixel successfully recruit air service, it would receive a one-time payment of $40,000 per route above the initial expenditure.

Supervisors approved the contract with no discussion.

Supervisors on Tuesday declared the county an “economic recovery zone” in order to speed the issuance of solar energy bonds allowed only in areas in fiscal trouble.

The county administration asked the board to approve the designation so that the $12 million in bonds can be issued, allowing Sun Edison LLC to build nine solar power projects.

One project would be at Atascadero State Hospital. The others would be at different sites for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

Combined, they would create 2,200 kilowatts of solar power, providing half of each site’s electricity needs and reducing the carbon impact by 27,000 metric tons over 20 years, according to a staff report from Assistant County Administrator Dan Buckshi.

To move the bonds forward, the county had to declare itself an economic recovery zone.

Such a zone, according to Buckshi, has to have “significant poverty, unemployment, home foreclosure rates or general distress.”

Supervisors approved the move without discussion.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a winery and farm stand to be spread over 35 acres on Green Valley Road halfway between Templeton and Highway 1.

Landscaper Joe Mistretta and his family bought the rights to build in 2009. He plans to hold 12 events yearly with no more than 150 people, convert an existing storage building to a farm stand, and, eventually, build a winery at 8345 Green Valley Road.

Approval was delayed from February because of a squabble over water rights with a neighbor. The participants worked out a compromise.