Grover Beach mayor no longer represents city on air board

Debbie Peterson
Debbie Peterson The Tribune

About five months after she authored a petition not authorized by the Grover Beach City Council, Mayor Debbie Peterson has been removed as the city’s representative on the county’s Air Pollution Control District board.

The petition urged repeal of a controversial dust-control rule affecting the Oceano Dunes off-highway vehicle park.

Peterson remains the Grover Beach City Council’s alternate on the 12-member countywide board, however. But on Monday, the council selected Councilwoman Karen Bright as its representative during a broader discussion of committee assignments.

Bright previously served on the air board from 2008 through 2012.

The air board meets six times a year. In November 2011, it adopted a rule requiring State Parks to reduce the amount of dust blowing off the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Peterson, who joined the board last January, was not on the panel at the time.

In July, Peterson wrote a petition at the request of a local group of business owners and residents, Grover Beach United, urging repeal of the dust rule. Later that month, several council members said they did not share her concerns and chided her for urging repeal of the dust rule without first bringing the issue to the council.

Although council members had initially opposed the rule, they said this summer that they don’t want to revisit the issue.

More recently, the air board voted 7-4 to require State Parks to pay $49,240 in annual fees, mostly for the air district to monitor and review air-quality impacts. Peterson dissented.

On Monday, Councilman Bill Nicolls nominated Bright for the air board seat, and Councilmen Jeff Lee and Glenn Marshall agreed. When Peterson sought to keep her seat, Bright commented: “Because of what we had in the past, when it came before the council, we basically said that you would finish up the term and that we would appoint someone else.”

Peterson countered: “My understanding was that you would see if I behaved in a manner that the council was comfortable with and perhaps you’d continue to support me in that role.”

The discussion ended there, but Peterson was clearly frustrated with the council’s decision to take her off that board while allowing other council members to continue to serve on other boards of their choosing.

“So everyone is going to do exactly what they want to do except for me?” she said.