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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

City of San Luis ObispoCandidate for Mayor

Photo of Jan Marx

Jan Marx

10,476 votes (49.55%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Address the need for increasing workforce and affordable housing by appropriate infill outside of established neighnorhoods and annexing new neighborhoods to the south
  • Make our City even more water secure by purifying recycled water one more time, injecting about 2500 more acre feet into underground acquifers for storage and use as needed. , then pumping it out
  • Reevaluate the Rental Housing Inspection program, to determine if there are unintended negative consequences on city residents.



Profession:I am Mayor of the City of San Luis Obispo, running for a fourth term. I am a retired attorney and college administrator
Mayor, City of San Luis Obispo — Elected position (2010–current)
Attorney and law practice owner, Law Offices of Jan Howell Marx (1995–2010)
City Council Member, City of San Luis Obispo — Elected position (2008–2010)
City Council Member, City of San Luis Obispo — Elected position (1998–2002)
Planning Comissioner, City of San Luis Obispo Planning Commission — Appointed position (1996–1998)
Real Property, Construction and Estate Planning attorney, George Gallo Collins Sullivan Law firm (1990–1994)
Deputy District Attorney, San Luis Obispo District Attorney's Office (1989–1989)
Dean of Students, Scripps College (1982–1984)
Assitant Dean of Students (Graduate Housing), Stanford University (1979–1982)


Stanford University; Columbia University; Santa Clara University School of Law BA; MA; JD 1988, Majored in English and minored in theatre; comparative medieval literature; law concerntrating on local government law (1967)

Community Activities

Member, Rotary International (SLO Monday Club) (2002–current)
2016 President and Board member, San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) and Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) (2008–current)
Member and donor, Friends of Prado Day Center and Homeless Shelter (1988–current)
Member and endorsee, Sierra Club, Santa Lucia Chapter (2008–current)
Board member and President, Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) (2002–2008)


                                            JAN HOWELL MARX

                                                                       265 Albert Drive

                                                              San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

                                                                     (805) 541-2716 cell








EDUCATION                SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW:                J.D. December 1987

Dean's List 1984-1987                                                                                                

American Jurisprudence Award in Government Law

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: M.A. in Literature. Highest Honors                                1969

STANFORD UNIVERSITY: B.A. in Literature. Dean's List                            1967



ADMITTED TO CALIFORNIA STATE BAR:                                                                                     December 7, 1988


LAW PRACTICE:         Law Offices of Jan Howell Marx (retired)                                                 7/93-2010

Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, municipal and local entity defense,

Business, environmental, land use and Coastal Act, real property,

Dispute resolution, arbitration and mediation.


Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District                                                         2004

Appointed to the Appellate Mediation Panel


George Gallo Collins Sullivan                                                                            89-93

P.O. Box 6129, Los Osos, CA (805) 528-3351

civil, business, real property, environmental,

trust and probate litigation


Deputy District Attorney                                                                                      1989

San Luis Obispo County; misdemeanor

criminal law, domestic violence prevention.


Associate Borton, Petrini & Conron                                                                     1988

1065 Higuera, San Luis Obispo, CA

Civil litigation-local entity/insurance



Law Clerk Intern and Legal Assistant                                                                 86-88

for Santa Clara County Counsel: County

Government Center, 70 West Hedding St.,

San Jose, CA 95110. Legal writing & research,

Assisted writing U.S. Supreme Court brief on

Affirmative Action and Constitutional issues.





CAL POLY STATE UNIVERSITY Adjunct Professor                                           1996-98



Scripps College in Claremont, CA. Sr. Administrator


ASSISTANT DEAN OF STUDENTS                                                           1979-82

Director of Graduate Housing at Stanford University


ADMINISTRATOR & COLLEGE ENGLISH TEACHER                        1973-79

Malaspina College, Powell River Campus, B.C. Canada

Capilano College, North Vancouver, B.C. Canada



"Walking the Tightrope Between Title VII and Equal

Protection" Co-authored with Steven Woodside Spring 1988 Urban Lawyer.

”Palm Street Perspective” column in San Luis Obispo Journal.


SKILLS:                      Negotiation, mediation, writing, teaching, public speaking, community outreach.




Elected Mayor of San Luis Obispo 2010-16, City Council Member 2008-10 and 1998-2002; President of  the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments and San Luis Obispo Regional Transportation Agency, Board member Air Pollution Control District, Integrated Waste Management Authority, Coast Rail Coordinating Committee; County Parks and Recreation Commission 1990-1995; Board of Economic Opportunity Commission (now CAPSLO) (6 years); San Luis Obispo County Water Advisory Council; Chair of the Whale Rock Commission; Board Member Economic Vitality Commission; Council Liaison to the County Zone 9 Flood Control District. County Parks and Recreation Commission appointee 1990-1995.



Volunteer Arbitrator and Mandatory Settlement Conference Pro Tem Judge; Co-founder of the SLO Domestic Violence Defense Clinic; San Luis Obispo County Morros Advisory Committee; Homeless Overflow at churches, chair of the Rotary Railroad Safety Bike Path Project.



Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo, Local Government Commission, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, Surfrider, Land Conservancy, Sierra Club, ECOSLO, SLO Botanical Garden, California State Bar Association, San Luis Obispo County Bar Association, Women Lawyers Association of San Luis Obispo County.


INTERESTS:  Camping, kayaking, beach combing, hiking, bicycling, reading, travel, theater, music, writing, local issues, reading, gardening, grandchildren, photography, genealogy, volunteer work in the community.


Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Former Mayors Dave Romero and Allen Settle
  • Sierra Club
  • Planned Parenthood

Organizations (1)

  • Tribune Newspaper Editorial Board

Elected Officials (3)

  • Congresswoman Lois Capps
  • State Senator Bill Monning
  • Council Members John Ashbaugh and Carlyn Christianson

Individuals (1)

  • Over 80 Community members

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am passionate about serving San Luis Obispo. My experience and know how make me the best qualified candidate.  Some people have opinions, but no track record of deliverables.  I, in contrast, listen to the community’s vision and get results, for example enacting the Styrofoam ban, building the skate park, increasing bike paths, securing funding for a new park or protecting nearly 7,000 open space acres. 

I will increase workforce and affordable housing, annex new neighborhoods, combat climate change, increase renewable energy, augment water security, reevaluate the rental housing program, promote local economic diversification and improve communication with City residents.

Position Papers

Rental Housing Inspection Program


The new council needs to reevaluate the Rental Housing Inspection Program


Rental Housing Inspection Program

After hearing from a number of residents, I have come to the conclusion that the program needs a thorough evaluation. The City needs to make sure that it is not causing unintended negative consequences.  That is why I voted to have it placed back on the Council agenda in March 2017.  The City needs to make sure that it is not causing unintended negative consequences.

In May of 2015, I supported the program out of my concern for tenants living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions because of landlord neglect. But since then, serious questions have arisen about the actual effect the ordinance is having on the community. We need more information about the program’s practical effect in order to decide if it should continue in its present form.

The RHIP program was part of the 2013-15 Neighborhood Wellness Major City Goal. It addresses impacts on the community resulting from our previously unregulated, purely complaint-driven “status quo.” The unregulated situation has resulted in steadily increasing rental rates, rising numbers of conversion of single family homes to rental units (well over 60%), and deteriorating living conditions in rentals. Lucrative, unregulated rentals have arguably contributed to rising home prices and rents, sadly shutting out many permanent residents and first time home buyers from the SLO market.

Renting is a profitable business, and business license and program fees are a cost of doing business. Cities routinely regulate all kinds of businesses, and rental inspection programs like ours, with tenant opt-out provisions, have been upheld by the courts as constitutional. Landlords have legal, civic and moral responsibilities to provide their tenants with habitable dwellings.

Unfortunately, some landlords regard their rentals as sources of income only. They do not want to spend anything on maintenance. Tenants, especially student-age people, often fear speaking up about repairs, or asserting their rights.

Preserving and Increasing Our Greenbelt


My long time open space preservation activism has paid off!

Open Space

The City of San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California has been designated as the “happiest City in North America” by National Geographic’s Dan Buettner in his recent book, Thrive.  A major reason he cited for the City’s extraordinarily high quality of life is its Greenbelt Protection Program, which I have advocated and voted for enthusiastically over the years. Established in 1995 and rare among cities of its size, this Program preserves the City’s scenic surroundings and provides amazing recreational opportunities, just minutes from downtown.

Preserving Open Space enjoys widespread community financial and volunteer support. It has always ranked number one in community surveys. The City has worked with willing land owners, national and local nonprofits, and various governmental agencies to protect natural areas, farms, vineyards and ranches surrounding the City. Preservation has been accomplished by dedication, acceptance of donations, or outright purchase of land, easements and/or development entitlements.

Today, the program protects just under 7,000 acres in open space. The City holds title to approximately 3,500 acres of land, comprising ten separate open space reserves ranging in size from 30 to over 1,000 acres, plus many properties along the City’s creeks. The Calle Joaquin Agricultural Preserve (“City Farm”) protects and is cultivating 27 acres of prime agricultural land between Highway 101 and Madonna Road. In addition, a number of large conservation easement acquisitions now maintain many more acres of land in active agriculture or as wetlands. All of these properties must remain in their current land use and never be urbanized, thus preserving the City’s hard urban edge, protecting agricultural and rural land and preventing sprawl.

In order to ensure best management of these lands, the City has hired a Natural Resources Manager and a City Biologist and formulated Conservation Guidelines and Plans. Often, the land is left alone to allow Mother Nature to take her own course.  Trail routes and other resources are identified, so that passive recreational use does not negatively impact important natural resources such as waterways, springs, rare plants or animals, nesting habitats, or other important natural or cultural features. The City has also negotiated removal of two billboards from the Johnson Ranch Open Space to reclaim valuable visual resources.

The Greenbelt Protection Program has created approximately thirty-five miles of trails in the City’s open space lands, as well as extensive restoration of native habitat.  Trail construction, non-native invasive weed control, and native tree and shrub plantings have largely been undertaken and supported City Rangers and by volunteer labor.  This has been the result of the Program’s many partnerships with community groups such as ECOSLO and the Land Conservancy, student clubs and an extensive network of individual volunteers. Governmental organizations such as the California Conservation Corps have also worked with the City to implement the Conservation Plans.

The result of this monumental community effort is an extensive system of natural parklands which are the pride of the community and make the City an asset for residents and visitors from all over the world.  But, open space preservation and maintenance is not completed yet.  As Mayor, I applaud our city residents who are unstoppable, as they work together to realize their common vision of completely surrounding San Luis Obispo with rural green space, lovingly protected in perpetuity.

Adding more workforce and affordable housing


Implementing our new General Plan will provide more workforce and affordable housing


Adequate, safe housing is basic to human dignity and a healthy community. I have consistently voted in favor of increased workforce housing in our city. I am also an advocate of affordable housing and helped shape our inclusionary housing ordinance. It is a step in the right direction, but lack of affordable owner occupied and rental housing for permanent residents remains a serious problem for our City. The majority of renters still must pay rents in a high-rent student housing market.

For low and moderate income families and seniors, manufactured housing is affordable way to achieve housing stability. That is why, besides being in favor of affordable and multi-family housing, I am in favor of zoning that would make land available for manufactured housing. I also am in favor of innovative smart-growth planning measures, for instance allowing rooming houses and having a cottage ordinance that would allow more small, modest homes to be built in our city.

I am in favor of adding new, well planned neighborhoods to our city, especially since Cal Poly intends to substantially increase enrollment in the future. But, as specified by numerous City policies, addition of housing must be environmentally sustainable and within the capacity of our natural resources. I oppose sprawl development beyond our Urban Reserve Line and support infill to the extent it does not negatively impact well established neighborhoods.

Videos (1)

— September 30, 2016 Committee to Reelect Jan Marx Mayor 2016

I was the only elected official testifying against the Phillips 66 Rail Spur Expansion project before the SLO County Planning Commission on September 22, 2016. The project would result in 3 to 5 mile and a half long crude oil tanker trains coming right through the middle of our city.  Our entire council support city residents in opposing this project.

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