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Supervisors extend water ordinance for 2 years 

Governor’s new supervisor is deciding vote on emergency water ordinance

Paso Robles groundwater basinSan Luis Obispo County Supervisors voted this afternoon to extend its emergency Paso Robles groundwater basin ordinance. The extension will restrict water use and vineyard planting in the Paso Robles groundwater basin for a full two years though Aug. 26, 2015. The vote came after heated public comment and debate.

Last week, the supervisors failed to extend the initial 45-day moratorium on new vineyard plantings by just one vote. An emergency ordinance requires the support of four out of five supervisors.

This week, with the additional vote of Caren Ray, the supervisors had the required four votes needed including Frank Mecham of Paso Robles, Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill. Supervisor Debbie Arnold abstained. Ray was appointed to the board on Oct. 3 by California Governor Jerry Brown.

“I abstain,” said Arnold. “I am not objecting to extending the ordinance – but I do object to this board passing any law that is not clearly defined.”

Arnold’s abstention was due to Section 6, Item 4 in the ordinance that says a project is exempt from the ordinance “where satisfactory evidence can be provided that, prior to the effective date of this Ordinance, an applicant has secured a vested right to complete site preparation, planting, or sale of product.”

But there is no definition in the ordinanceof what constitutes a vested right.

The county will work to define “a vested right” at a later date. County staff were directed to work on the issue and bring recommendations back to the board on Nov. 26.

-Staff report

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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or follow his blog.