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SLO council will rule on granting Downtown Association independence 

In part driven by its members' desire to be more active in politics, SLO's influential Downtown Association is seeking formal independence from the city.

The SLO City Council is scheduled to vote April 1 on a plan that would reduce the group's role from a formal advisory body to that of a nonprofit group that contracts with the city.

The change comes in the wake of a lawsuit by Ernie Dalidio, who has sued the association, alleging it used public funds to lobby against a failed 2005 city ballot measure that would have annexed his ranch and allowed development on it.

The association organizes such events as Thursday Night Farmers' Market, the Concerts in the Plaza series, and holiday events, including bringing Santa's House to Mission Plaza.

Until the change, the group's formal status has been as an advisory group, similar to the Parks and Recreation Committee.

The city has subsidized the association in key ways, including helping with payroll, accounting, administration, and use of the city's attorney services.

According to a city staff report, the group's desire to be more active in lobbying and politics played a key role in its seeking the new status.

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