The Morro Bay City Council voted narrowly Monday against an attempt by top city officials to oust an outspoken member of the city’s planning commission who is a leading critic of Morro Bay’s new sewage plant project. Council members did, however, warn Richard Sadowski to behave himself.
Sadowski, a semi-retired mechanical engineer, stood accused of disrupting a recent city council meeting in which he engaged in a verbal tussle with Mayor Jamie Irons. Following the meeting, Sadowski alleged that a councilman, as well as Morro Bay’s interim city manager, asked him to resign.
The outspoken planning commissioner 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 more than $200 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 Raod, 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 mind on the location of the plant without listening to the public. Sadowski said public comment on the issue was a charade.
Before Sadowski finished speaking, Irons told him to leave the podium, which prompted members of the audience to taunt the mayor. Sadowski called for a point of order, but Morro Bay Police Chief Gregory Allen interjected, saying Sadowski needs to respect the process.
On Monday, the council members convened for a special meeting, during which they voted 3-2 in favor of allowing Sadowski to remain on the planning commission. Irons and Councilman Robert “Red” Davis, whom Sadowski had accused of asking him to resign, cast the two votes in favor of ousting the planning commissioner.
Monday’s vote followed a public comment period during which all of the speakers sided with Sadowski. About 15 public commenters spoke in favor of Sadowski keeping his job.
The planning commissioner has since stated he will maintain his outspoken style following the attempt to oust him.
Sadowski has served on the planning commission since 2014. In 2016, Sadowski ran for city council and was defeated by Davis and Councilwoman Marlys McPherson.