Fifty-Six people (one of the largest community meetings ever held) attended the Nipomo Incorporation Workshop today, 1/20/07, at the NCSD building in Nipomo. Also attending were camera crews from KCOY and also KSBY, as well as reporters from The Adobe Press and Santa Maria Times. This was an incredible success by all accounts. A big thanks to Mike and Bonnie Eisner and Kevin Beauchamp for all their pre-workshop planning and hard work. Also a big thanks to everyone to participated in any way, and for all the public who attended. Feel free to leave comments, questions, suggestions or even criticisms about anything you read here.
Katcho Achadjian, the 4th District Supervisor was a keynote speaker before the group began informal workshop type discussions. Katcho started off by noting that 20 to 30 years ago Nipomo longed to be discovered. Well, we have been, over the last 5 to 7 years, and the growing pains are evident. In discussing incorporation, Katcho used the analogy of a child who grew out of the child restraint seat, and now having come of age, wants to actually drive the car.
Of course with the coming of age, also comes the responsibility of now maintaining the car, fueling the car, insuring the car, and overall proper use of the car. So it will be with incorporation and Nipomo standing on its own as a new city. We will assume all the responsibilities of the county. This is the responsibility incorporation brings.
Katcho also reminded the group that property taxes are practically irrelevant to a city’s revenue stream. What is important, however, is the critical sales tax base. Nipomo’s incorporation will require as much sales tax as the community can must. Fortunately, Nipomo’s sales tax base is increasing each quarter, and is ahead of projections.
Discussing concerns of neighboring communities Katcho commented that Arroyo Grande city officials have no concerns at all about Nipomo incorporating. The do want to have Laetitia Winery as a buffer between the two communities. This is a natural buffer, as the winery lies immediately to the south of Arroyo Grande, and to the north of Nipomo.
Oceano community officials likewise have no concerns about Nipomo’s incorporation. A potential buffer between Nipomo and Oceano could be the Cypress Ridge Community, which has thus far expressed an active opposition to being included within any potential Nipomo City limits.
Katcho’s advice to Nipomo residents: Don’t incorporate too large an area at first. Annexation of greater territory is always a possibility after Nipomo becomes a city. If the community is supportive of incorporation, so is Katcho. In a word (well, actually a few words) “more power to you.” He will be there, as he always has been to support Nipomo’s efforts.
Katcho Q & A
At the end of his formal remarks, Katcho entertained a few questions from the audience:
1. Katcho believes the current make up of the Board of Supervisors is favorable to a possible Nipomo Incorporation. Katcho has a good working relationship with the other board members. He will work with the other board members during Nipomo’s incorporation process.
2. Taxes will not go up, unless people themselves decide to raise them. Property taxes are protected by Proposition 13 and also Proposition 218. Only people or their legislative representatives can approve taxes, and then only through a two thirds majority. Please take a look at these propositions. You will see that raising taxes is a very difficult task in California. Furthermore, before LAFCO will give the green light to a community to proceed with incorporation, they have to demonstrate that they are fiscally feasible not only at the time of incorporation, but several years into the future as well.
3. Issues like growth and water will always be issues. A future Nipomo city might elect five of the most anti-growth council members possible; however, that would not stop growth in Nipomo. There are state mandates that require certain growth. As a community changes, its needs and outlook changes. Do we want to continue to have to go all the way to Arroyo Grande or Santa Maria to do certain transactions or shopping? Eight years ago, Nipomo had no major grocery store. Now it does. As the community grows its needs change. Wanting more conveniences and options locally in Nipomo will require some growth and changes. But, at least with a locally elected city council, Nipomo as a community will have the tools it needs to best be able to manage that growth to match the needs of a changing community.
4. Incorporation would affect the NCSD as an organization. Most likely, upon incorporation the NCSD would dissolve, and the new city government and city council would take over the current governing functions of the NCSD.
After Katcho addressed the group, we spoke for about another two hours about various aspects of incorporation. For example, is local control necessarily a good thing? One example by someone was the fiasco out in Los Osos with their CSD and the sewer issue they face. Certainly there can be potential downsides to local control. As Katcho pointed out in his analogy once you own the car, you have much more responsibility than does the child who only rides in the car seat.
What about zoning? Nipomo as a new city would inherit the county’s general plan and zoning. Nipomo’s local city council could then decide what to do with zoning at that time. A legitimate concern about down zoning was raised? Could the new city down zone current zoning? Certainly they could attempt to do so; however, there would likely be legal consequences and challenges to any such attempt.
As a city Nipomo would have a greater voice and representation in the community. As a city, Nipomo would have a seat on SLOCOG, The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments.
How do we encourage great community involvement? There are many local service clubs and organizations in Nipomo. Many had representatives at this meeting. We discussed a great deal about dealing with the media, inclduding media packets or press releases. We should have booths are local events such as the October Festival and other community events. Further town hall meetings, and other workshops such as this one are helpful and important.
We also discussed funding. One suggestion was to involve the NCSD again as a potential source of revenue that will be required to proceed with incorporation. Some expressed reservations about the NCSD and whether aligning them with incorporation would be too politically charged. Others thought that forming a private non profit 501(c) corporation would be helpful to receive funding and perform fund-raising events.
Towards the end of the meeting, several individuals volunteered to head up various subcommittees to oversee issues such as forming a non-profit corporation, media relations, government relations and others. While no new date for another meeting has been set, it appears there was great interest in those who did show up. I anticipate more meetings will be announced shortly.
If you were unable to make the meeting, we did have a packet of material available. Some of it you can download here:
Note, the proposed initial boundaries are just that. They are a starting point for discussion only. These boundaries are actually the current Sphere of Influence boundaries of the Nipomo Community Services District. They encompass an area slightly larger than the current NCSD boundaries, and include the area that LAFCO believes the NCSD might grow to within the next 20 years or so.
Below are the projected revenues and expenditures from the Davis Report, page 25. They are for fiscal year 2006 to 2007. (Note to view entire graphic, please double click to expand to see all figures).