San Luis Obispo County elected officials, business, and community leaders came together last week for a press conference in Atascadero. They urged Governor Brown to veto Senate Bill 469 (Vargas), a bill that they say would create another layer of bureaucracy for local governments, making it more difficult to bring new jobs and opportunities to communities.

“This bill would have a tremendous impact on my community,” said Atascadero City Council Woman Roberta Fonzi in an interview with PublicCEO. “We already have a Walmart that’s in the works.”

If SB 469 becomes law, then the last three years of reviews, studies, and staff time will have to be put aside and the process start all over. That’s because the EIR, now years in the making, includes all of the information that SB 469 requires, but it wouldn’t conform with the formatting of the new, State regulation.

“In 2006, we had a vote of the people, and over 65% voted in favor of bringing Walmart to our city,” said Fonzi. “We complied with the rules and met all of them. Now, when we’re ready to do the deal or put it aside, another layer of regulation could make us start all over.”

The coalition has based many of its claims of negative impacts upon both their experiences in local government and an independent study commissioned to investigate the impacts of SB 469. That study stated:

“The greatest obstacles to the satisfaction of the proposed bill include the vagueness and overly broad nature of some of the required elements, an uncertain threshold of accuracy, the potentially subjective nature of some of the required assessments, and the likely exposure of all parties to litigation and delays associated with agreement on findings and fulfillment of the proposed law, SB 469.”

One person, who opposes SB 469, forwarded PublicCEO a letter they sent to Governor Brown.

“Current law already allows for extensive land use and environmental reviews in addition to public testimony wherever a discretionary project approval is required from a public agency,” read the letter.This bill will add another layer of duplicative assessments and studies, even for simple, routine approvals, adding to the costs and time of projects.”

Fonzi who opposed the bill after learning about it and asking for the input of her representatives in Sacramento, said her opposition was based on a variety of issues, including costs, local authority, and politics.

“Cities have the ability to decide what companies or businesses it should have in its borders,” said Fonzi. “Not to mention that this is another economic burden on our city when we’re already short. It’s just another unfunded mandate and I don’t appreciate that either.”

Director of Government Affairs at the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB) of San Luis Obispo County echoes Fonzi’s sentiments.

“Adoption of this bill would constitute yet another state reduction of local control by mandating costly and time consuming studies,” said Brown. “It will add additional hardship to cities and counties that are already overburdened by over regulation.”