Politics & Government

Pismo councilman, Grover mayor nominated for Coastal Commission seat

Debbie Peterson
Debbie Peterson The Tribune

Two South County elected officials have been nominated to serve on the influential California Coastal Commission.

On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors nominated Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell. Earlier this month, the county City Selection Committee nominated Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson.

The City Selection Committee consists of all the mayors in the county. It selects city council members to serve on various boards, commissions and agencies in the county.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked for nominations for the South Central Coast regional seat on the commission. The governor appoints four of the commission’s 12 members with the others appointed by the state Assembly and Senate.

Nominees must be either city council members or county supervisors from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Until recently, the seat was held by former Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan, who did not seek re-election to that City Council.

There is no deadline or other timeframe for the governor to make a decision. Coastal Commissioners are typically appointed to four-year terms. Supervisor Bruce Gibson said he checked with the other two counties and was not told of any nominations.

Peterson and Howell were the only two city council members in the county who expressed an interest in the post. None of the five county supervisors said they wanted to be appointed.

Several of the supervisors cited as a reason for their lack of interest the time it takes to serve on the Coastal Commission, which meets monthly in various parts of the state. Supervisor Frank Mecham said he would “rather take a pencil in the eye” than serve on the commission.

The county supervisors unanimously passed a motion to nominate Howell. However, a separate motion to also nominate Peterson failed by a 3-2 vote with only Supervisors Mecham and Debbie Arnold voting in favor.

The three supervisors voting "no" said a nomination of Peterson by both the Board of Supervisors and the City Selection Committee would indicate a preference for her over Howell.

Peterson has generated some controversy recently because of her opposition to an ordinance by the county Air Pollution Control District to reduce the amount of dust blowing off the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The Grover Beach City Council recently voted to replace Peterson on the air board with Councilwoman Karen Bright.