March 25, 2023
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Editorial: Paso Robles signs on to rethink CEQA rules


Even within a single county, different cities are taking very different approaches to accelerating what has at times been an uncertain economic recovery.

Consider if you will the recent headlines from the two largest cities in San Luis Obispo County: San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.

Sensing a chance to grow a bit faster and put energy efficiency projects on a faster track, Paso Robles has signed on to the CEQA Working Group, a coalition of business and trade organizations hoping to revamp the statute which has come under heavy criticism from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown has noted repeatedly that California Environmental Quality Act lawsuits are undermining key alternative energy and energy efficiency projects that are necessary if California is going to meet its greenhouse gas reduction and other targets under AB32.

Echoing a similar view, the Paso Robles City Council voted unanimously on April 2  to join the CEQA overhaul effort.

Meanwhile in San Luis Obispo, it is a burgeoning homeless problem that’s caught the eye of members of its Downtown Organization. The groups board of directors has voted to go before the City Council to seek funding for two dedicated police officers to patrol the downtown area seven days a week.

It is circulating a petition asking for support from those who are “sick and tired of panhandling and undesirable behaviors in downtown SLO.”

The effort to increase policing in downtown SLO echoes a similar effort in downtown Santa Barbara mounted by its hotel-restaurant leadership. That effort has resulted in a larger police force, increased police presence in the entire downtown area and a reduction in street crime.

We’re all in favor of more community policing and we believe that putting more cops on the street is an effective way to reduce crime and stem the tide of panhandlers and petty thieves.

But the bottom line in our cities is that many of them are feeling the impact of no-growth policies, which means they are becoming tourist havens whose residents are the very rich and the very poor.

Tri-county cities need to continue to provide for more economic activity and more housing options. Paso Robles has the right idea with its CEQA reform effort. And more cops will help downtown merchants in SLO, but so will more jobs and housing.