A member of the Morro Bay Planning Commission and vocal critic of the city’s plans for a new sewage plant alleges that Morro Bay’s city manager and council majority are trying to oust him over his criticism of the wastewater facility project. [Tribune]
Planning Commissioner Richard Sadowski says Interim City Manager Martin Lomeli and Councilman Robert “Red” Davis have both asked him to resign from his post. Sadowski said he will not step down.
Sadowski, a semi-retired mechanical engineer, opposes the city’s plan to build a $150 million wastewater treatment plant and water reclamation facility on an approximately 15-acre property near the intersection of Highway 1 and South Bay Boulevard. The planning commissioner, as well as many residents who agree with him, have said they will not be able to afford water bills of $207-$241 per household that are expected to fund the project. Sadowski and his allies say they prefer an approximately 12-acre site that is adjacent to the existing sewage plant near the beach on Atascadero Road, which they argue is better suited to cope with emergency situations.
On Sept. 26, Sadowski spoke about the sewage plant project during public comment at a city council hearing on the matter. Sadowski said Morro Bay City Council members had already made up their minds on the location of the plant without listening to the public. The act of receiving public input on the matter had become a charade, Sadowski said.
Before Sadowski finished speaking, the timer went off, seemingly prior to the completion of his allotted three minutes. Mayor Jamie Irons told Sadowski to leave the podium.
Members of the audience then taunted Irons, and Sadowski called for a point of order. However, Police Chief Gregory Allen interjected, saying Sadowski needs to respect the process. Sadowski then left the podium and exited the building.
Following the meeting, interim executive Lomeli stated in an email that he met with Sadowski and suggested that the planning commissioner consider resigning because of his actions.
“I believe as a commissioner he should set an example of public discourse, and (in my opinion) his behavior was disruptive at that meeting,” Lomeli stated. “I’ve been in local government 30-plus years. I’ve never seen a planning commissioner purposely disregard the policies of the city in this manner.”
Councilman Davis, too, acknowledged meeting with Sadowski, though he would not disclose what they discussed.
Sadowski says the city has for weeks been attempting to stifle criticism of the sewage plant project. Prior to the Sept. 26 council meeting, the city cancelled two meetings of the Water Reclamation Facility Citizen Advisory Committee, on which Sadowski likewise sits.
In 2016, Sadowski ran for city council and was defeated by Davis and Councilwoman Marlys McPherson. Sadowski has served on the planning commission since 2014.