Local Politics

Nipomo residents outraged most of development funds spent elsewhere

Speakers used public comment period for two hours

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - At a nearly packed San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, people from Nipomo let their feelings be known regarding county use of Public Facility Fee (PFF) funds.

"When you look at the numbers purely, the money that has been generated by the various projects within Nipomo, they've gone to other areas far outside of Nipomo," said resident Richard Malvarose.

Malvarose was one of many who expressed frustration PFFs have left Nipomo to be spent on other projects around the county.

PFF money are funds generated by development, which are to be used on community services, such as parks, park land acquisition, libraries, law enforcement and fire protection.

According to county documents, development in the Nipomo-area, such as Trilogy, Blacklake and Cypress Ridge, has generated about $11 million over the past 12 years. However, just under $2 million has actually been spent in Nipomo.

"Our community in the South County has suffered the burden of all this development in the county for the most part, the bulk of the development has gone into the South County and we aren't benefiting from any of the services," said Fourth District Supervisor and Nipomo resident Lynn Compton.

During the meeting, people used the public comment period for about two hours to express their views.

Speakers came from all walks of life, including business owners, youth group volunteers, local sports representatives and heads of non-profit organizations, etc.

"They feel like Nipomo is being underrepresented and they're not happy about it, but that's why we're here, to make some changes," said Rudy Stowell, president of Nipomo Chamber of Commerce and Dana Cultural Center board director.

Before the public comment period opened up, Third District Supervisor Adam Hill made it a point to emphasize there was nothing inappropriate about the allocation of the the PFF funds. He also felt Nipomo community members had been misguided with incorrect information.

"You (Compton) started making this into some sort of issue where you have claimed you've been wronged, your people have been wronged," said Hill. "Let's support a skateboard park that's ready. We'll do it. We've supported every single project that has come forward with staff and is a supervisor with that district works with their staff, instead of makes up stories, then maybe, you know, these things will actually be on the agenda."

Second District Supervisor Bruce Gibson agreed with Hill in mentioning funds were properly allocated.

He also pointed out the "Coastal Zone," which has collected $2.23 million  in PFF money the past 12 years, while receiving $8.2 million, was incorrectly identified as his supervisoral district.

He noted the Coastal Zone actually includes geographic boundaries within all five county districts, including Compton's Fourth District.

Both Gibson and Hill agreed PFF money should be distributed throughout the county, and not kept solely in the geographic area where it was collected.

"I don't think you want to do down the road where everything derived from one district is kept in that district, or one town is kept in that town because a lot of towns would suffer and I care about the about the other towns outside of my district too," Hill said.

Many who spoke acknowledge that while supervisors may have distributed money according to the law, it wasn't in the best interest for Nipomo.

"While it was legal, it certainly was not fair," said Mesa Middle School Tom Slater, who is heading up the drive to build a skate park. "They dipped into the pot and took more than their share and those areas of the county that they represent have a wealth of resources, both natural and built and we just don't have that in Nipomo."

At one point, Hill personally called out Compton for creating misinformation in her district, which he labled dangerous.

"Essentially people have been misinformed and I think that is a problem," said Hill.

After the lunchtime recess, Compton made two motions.

With a 3-2 vote in favor (with Hill and Gibson voting no), a motion passed that will bring funding development at four Nipomo area parks (Nipomo Community Park, Dana Cultural Center, Jack Ready Imagination Park and Jim O'Miller Park, back for discussion during the June budget meetings.

Staff will now explore ways to help fund developments in each of those four park locations.

Later, a 4-1 passing vote (with Hill voting no) allocated $150,000 of reserve PFF funds for the proposed Nipomo skate park. The money will be used for planning and environmental review.

"I encourage people who live in Nipomo who have passions and see needs to get involved because now that you know what happeed to the PFF funds, don't let it happen again and stand up for Nipomo," said Slater.


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