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SLO building code on hold after council member accused of conflict 

San Luis Obispo is delaying a final vote on its new all-electric building code after the union for SoCalGas workers accused a City Council member of voting with a conflict of interest.

The city is seeking the advice of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) on the matter, which will determine if Vice Mayor Andy Pease can vote on the code overhaul while also owning a local architectural consulting firm.

click to enlarge CODE QUESTION SLO Vice Mayor Andy Pease is seeking an opinion from the Fair Political Practices Commissions about whether she is allowed to vote on city building code policy while also owning an architectural consulting company. - PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • CODE QUESTION SLO Vice Mayor Andy Pease is seeking an opinion from the Fair Political Practices Commissions about whether she is allowed to vote on city building code policy while also owning an architectural consulting company.

"Because Ms. Pease is a professional who specializes in clean-energy consulting, and because she is also a highly placed insider in the city's political and administrative structure, the new Clean Energy rules will drive a great deal of business to her architectural firm," attorney John Davis alleged in a letter to the city on behalf of Utility Workers' Union of America Local 132.

On Sept. 3, the SLO City Council voted 4-1 to adopt a first reading of the 2020 building code, which creates disincentives for building natural gas infrastructure in new buildings. The council was scheduled to vote on a second reading of the ordinance at its Sept. 17 meeting.

The final vote, though, was put on hold in response to Davis' letter. City Attorney Christine Dietrick told New Times that the council will wait for a determination from the FPPC, the state agency that regulates elected officials' potential conflicts of interests, before moving forward.

"I think it's in the best interest of all involved," Dietrick said. "They're the only ones that can give advice that can be relied upon."

In a statement posted on Facebook, Pease said she didn't believe her stake in the firm, In Balance Green Consulting, presented a conflict. The city's code change would not affect "the typical scope of work" on future building projects in the city, she said.

But Pease also offered to decline any consulting work in the city on buildings that are triggered by the reach code and could require "additional measures to achieve improved performance for mixed-fuel buildings."

"I believe that even a perceived conflict of interest could undermine the community's trust in a fair and transparent process," Pease wrote.

Representatives from the Utility Workers' Union of America Local 132 did not respond to New Times' request for comment before press time. Δ

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