SLO County Supervisors reject proposed oil referendum

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday not to support a Surfrider Foundation’s resolution against offshore oil because it appeared redundant, unverified and without teeth.

On Monday at about 4:30 p.m., a member of the Surfrider Foundation, Charles Varni, sent a copy of their referendum to the board seeking support. Varni warned that the people of our county could see oil platforms off the coastline and an increased risk of oil spills.

“We were assured by the board majority this is not something we need to be concerned with, but the wolf is at the door, it is time for us to really stand up against further oil development off our shores and on our land,” Varni said on Tuesday during public comment.

In support of the proposed resolution, several speakers asked the board to put the proposal on the next agenda.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson agreed with Varni and asked the board to send a clear and strong statement to the federal government.

“I believe this board should be on record against offshore oil. A clear and strong statement that offshore oil development threatens us in an unacceptable way would be an important bit of leadership for our constituents,” Gibson said.

Gibson then made a motion to bring a discussion of the resolution back at the next board meeting. He did not receive a second and the motion died.

Compton then asked SLO County Counsel Rita Neal if staff had time to verify the accuracy of statements made in the resolution.

“One issue, when I did look at the proposed resolution was the paragraphs you indicated, and quite frankly we just have not had the time to review the proposal close enough,” Neal said.

On March 7, 2017, the board sent the federal government a letter signed by four board members, Supervisor John Peschong recused himself because of a conflict of interest, stating the county’s objection to offshore oil drilling.

In addition to finding the resolution a repeat of last years letter, supervisors Compton and Debbie Arnold Compton noted that Super Measure A has successfully halted offshore oil drilling for more than 30 years.

“Measure A in essence says you can’t build any infrastructure, so therefore it is pretty difficult to build anything off the coast of our county,” Arnold said. “I think we we have sent a message, loud and clear.”

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