Crime

Critic of Arroyo Grande mayor accused of vandalizing signs. Now she faces a felony charge

Brown paint defaces one of Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill’s campaign signs in November. Police say about a dozen of his signs were vandalized.
Brown paint defaces one of Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill’s campaign signs in November. Police say about a dozen of his signs were vandalized.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against an Arroyo Grande woman for allegedly vandalizing Mayor Jim Hill’s election signs last month.

In a search warrant, Arroyo Grande police said they were called to a home owned by Mayor Jim Hill on Oct. 9, for damage to a residential fence and posted campaign sign. (Hill was running for re-election against Councilwoman Caren Ray.)

Police found two of Hill’s campaign signs, a fence and the sidewalk all splattered with brown paint.

They later confirmed nine other damaged Hill campaign signs around the city. City-owned sidewalks were also damaged at two of the other sites.

Christmas ornament fragments were found at one of the signs, indicating a paint-filled ornament had been thrown at it, according to police.

After being contacted, Hill told police that while he was installing a different sign in the city, Arroyo Grande resident Patricia Welsh “yelled out to him that the sign was going to be missing later.” She was described as a “very vocal critic of Hill,” according to the search warrant.

On Oct. 10, officers photographed brown paint in a trash can outside Welsh’s home. They also found security footage appearing to show Welsh’s car near where one of the signs was vandalized.

Welsh was charged on Nov. 14 with one count of felony vandalism for damage to real and personal property of or in excess of $400. She posted bail of $20,000 that same day.

She is scheduled to appear in court in December.

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