News: Latest City Council Meeting

San Luis Obispo City Hall

SLO Surplus

The San Luis Obispo city council meeting tonight showed that unlike Congress, the San Luis Obispo local government has its fiscal house in order.

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was presented at the meeting to show the state of the city’s finances for the Fiscal Year 2011.

The report showed that on July 1, 2010, the beginning of the fiscal year, the General Fund Balance (the amount of money the city had) was $11,114,000. By June 30, 2011, the end of the fiscal year, the balance was $12,907,900.

This means that SLO ended the year with $1,793,800 more in the coffers.

According to the report, the top revenues for the city were the general sales tax, Measure Y sales tax, property tax, and the Transient Occupancy Tax (ToT).

The reaction from the city council was naturally positive.

City council member John Ashbaugh and Mayor Jan Marx praised the Measure Y sales tax, as it stood as the second highest generator of revenue for the city and is relatively new.

City Council member Andrew Carter did point out one area of concern.

“We have underfunded CIP,” Carter said. “Our primary expenses have increased over time, our CIP has been at best flat. If you do that for too long it will come back to haunt you.”

Overall, the report was promising for the city.

“We are in a good position, despite the past three years where we’ve had some tough financial times,” Ashbaugh said. “We’ve had to make some tough decisions and we’re starting to bear the fruits of that.”

Historical Preservation Program

The other main topic at the meeting was the presentation of the Historic Preservation Program by Phil Dunsmore and Derek Johnson.

The program had been around since 1976, creating historical districts within the city to become tourist attractions.

Dunsmore and Johnson highlighted the benefits of the program, including maintaining heritage, enhancing property value and provide distinct identity.

The two pushed for the city to have a Historical Context Statement (description of the city’s historical development and land use patterns).

The city council liked the idea.

“Whenever I see that a community has that brown sign it draws my attention,” Ashbaugh said. “I’m a lot more likely to explore that community.”

One San Luis Obispo citizen suggested that a historic district should be made downtown.

The following citizen to speak, Josh Friedman, agreed.

“We need to keep addressing the preservation of our history if we want to continue our tourism,” Friedman said.

The city council as a whole supported the idea and said they’d support the idea in the future.

Other Issues

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Donald Hedrick came up to the podium wearing a big hat and made what he called an unusual request.

“Look at the relationship the city has with Downtown Association,” Hedrick said. “Recently they (the association) have been manipulating the police to tell me to tell me that if I don’t stop coming to Farmer’s Market with my chariot I’d get ticketed. We’re having our First Amendment threatened.”

City council manager Katie Lichtig assured Hedrick that there was going to be some refinement with the police and he was free to bring his chariot.

Other issues of note brought up by the citizens during the public comments section included one citizen calling for the council to reject the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and another calling for action to help clean up the SLO creek.

The council said that there was legislation in the House of Representatives to repeal parts of the NDAA and the creek was contaminated because of an animal problem.

Going to city council meetings like the one this week isn’t the only way to get involved in local SLO politics. The map below shows where the council meetings are at, as well as other places in the area are to get involved.

County Government Center, where the county supervisors have their meetings

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