A prime example of job-killing regulation is coming to light in San Luis Obispo County.
That’s because a group of environmentalists and “buy local” have joined forces to advocate for a countywide ordinance that would ban most private, for-profit activity on agricultural land.
In other words, no more weddings, retirement parties, fundraisers, corporate celebrations or other events could be held in barns, orchards, vineyards, fields and other venues rented out for the occasion.
The ordinance would deal a blow to party planners, wedding consultants, caterers and dozens of small businesses in a county that’s been badly hurt by cutbacks in public-sector jobs, including higher education.
It would also dramatically restrict property rights of landowners and deprive agricultural companies of a sometimes-important source of non-farm revenue. And, oh yes, you could kiss goodbye to agricultural tourism, for-profit music and art festivals and perhaps eventually, holding events in SLO County’s growing number of wineries.
Proponents argue the ordinance wouldn’t stop property owners from holding family weddings on their property. They see the ordinance as a way of keeping outsiders from overwhelming increasingly popular SLO County venues with events.
But opponents say the ordinance is worded so broadly that it amounts to a huge new layer of regulation of small companies that make up the backbone of the area’s economy.
Fortunately, a grassroots organization of opponents, the Coalition of Affected Business Owners, is mounting a spirited opposition.
They have correctly framed the debate as one about jobs, small businesses and opportunity for the next generation of SLO county entrepreneurs.
After a series of informational meetings with members of the SLO Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in attendance, the ordinance has been stalled awaiting further review.
We probably haven’t seen the last salvo in SLO County’s party wars. But small businesses deserve credit for speaking out on this important issue.