The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 last week to deny an appeal of the final phase of the Trilogy development in Nipomo, a vote that is now being dubbed unethical by District 4 supervisor candidate Jimmy Paulding.
Eighteen years ago, the SLO County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a housing development in Nipomo. In Oct. 2017, the SLO County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the final phase of the development based on a review of the project and approval of an addendum to the environmental impact report that was produced almost 20 years ago.
A month later, several neighbors to the development appealed the approval of a conditional use permit to complete phase 2-B of the project, 163 homes and 45 acres of vineyards. The appellant wanted the board to require the developer to perform another EIR based on current drought conditions.
During the hearing, a representative for the Nipomo Community Services District asked the board to deny the appeal and permit the project to move forward because of the developer’s financial assistance in building a pipeline to bring state water from Santa Maria to Nipomo. In addition, Art Herbon noted that as a resident of Trilogy, he would like to see the construction on his community completed.
A second speaker questioned if Supervisor Lynn Compton should recuse herself from the vote because people affiliated with the project had donated money to her campaign.
During board discussions, it was noted that four of the five supervisors on the board had received campaign donations from the developer. County Counsel Rita Neal said that none of the supervisors had a legal conflict of interest and that they could all vote on the agenda item.
Supervisor Bruce Gibson, a supporter of Paulding, then noted that a supervisor could recuse themselves to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
None of the four supervisors who received campaign contributions from the developer recused themselves and the appeal was denied by a 3-2 vote with supervisors Hill and Gibson dissenting.
Following the meeting, Paulding penned a Facebook post accusing Compton of unethical actions and repeating previous allegations raised by Supervisor Hill. In his post, Paulding does not mention that supervisors Hill, Debbie Arnold and John Peschong had also received donations from the developer.
“Yesterday, Supervisor Lynn Compton failed to recuse herself when she had an apparent conflict of interest,” Paulding wrote on Facebook. “She received over $10,000 from a developer, their planning consultant, and their attorney on a development project before the Board. This is exactly the sort of unethical, big money politics that I’m running against. The people of this county need ethics restored to local government. Enough is enough.”
Paulding did not respond to questions about how he would have voted on the appeal.
“Four board members would have had to recuse themselves by Jimmy’s standards,” Compton said. “This is ironic from someone who recently took a $50,000 donation from an anonymous donor. It makes you wonder who is trying to buy this election and why he won’t disclose it. All of my donors have been disclosed to the public.”