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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Local

City of Arroyo GrandeCandidate for Mayor

Photo of Jim Hill

Jim Hill

Engineer/Mayor
4,274 votes (47.05%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Provide affordable fire protection
  • Assure development proposals are compatible with neighborhoods and preserve water resources
  • Implement secondary process redundancy at SSLOCSD and move toward wastewater recycling

Experience

Experience

Profession:Engineer, Mayor
Engineer, Pacific Gas & Electric, Diablo Canyon Power Plant (1981–current)
Mayor, City of Arroyo Grande — Elected position (2014–current)
Board Member, South San Luis Obispo Sanitation District — Appointed position (2014–current)
Board Member, Oceano Community Services District — Elected position (2004–2012)

Education

University of SLO School of Law Juris Doctor, Law (2010)
USNY Bachelor of Science, Nuclear Engineering Technology (2000)

Biography

I'm a native Californian who has lived on the Central Coast nearly 40 years.  I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when there were miles of orange groves there and graduated high school in Santa Clara Valley when it had abundant plum and apricot orchards.  I know that without diligent effort to protect our agricultural lands and residential neighborhoods, this area too can become similarly overdeveloped and our cherished lifestyle only a memory like the ones I have from those earlier times.   

I'm an enthusiast of Western railroad history and an avid WWII history buff.  As a sponsor of the Collings Foundation B-24 Liberator, the only remaining example still flying, I've had several flights on their aircraft including the B-17 Flying Fortress "909".  

I am truly honored and privileged to represent you and serve as your mayor.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Gold Coast 805 Carpenters
  • Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association
  • Tim Brown, Arroyo Grande City Council member

Elected Officials (3)

  • John Peschong, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor
  • Lynn Compton, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor
  • Debbie Arnold, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am proud to be known as a listener and for being respectful of all voices in our community.  I'm proud to have support on all sides of the political spectrum.   I was an original signer of the civility pledge with Supervisor John Peschong and other mayors in SLO County.  As mayor, I'm your representative and I never forget that I work for you.  

I support our employees who provide a high level of service to our residents and who often volunteer in the community.  

During my first election, we defeated an ill-advised charter proposal that would have eliminated the requirement for balanced city budgets.  I have been committed to fiscal responsibility and have provided the balanced budgets as you have expected.  I will continue to do so in spite of serious fiscal challenges ahead.  We can continue to have great city services within our budget and ability to pay.

The officials you elect must have questioning attitudes and assure public funds are used appropriately.  Through diligent oversight, I stopped the corrupt practices at the South County Sanitation District that saw the former administrator criminally convicted for conflicts of interest.  That situation was unfortunately not unique as the record of the Integrated Waste Management Agency, now coming to light due in part to efforts of Councilman Tim Brown, demonstrates. 

The San District now has a new Admiinistrator, is progressing with secondary process redundancy and moving toward wastewater recycling.  These are key initiatives to maintain our quality of life in the most cost effective and environmentally responsible manner. 

Position Papers

Provide affordable fire protection

Summary

Changes are needed in how we provide fire protection to assure the service remains affordable in light of increasing costs.

 

Through the efforts of the paid fire officers and paid call or volunteer firefighters, the 5 Cities Fire Authority has delivered on the original vision of great service for our area.  But increased training mandates in State and Federal regulations and dramatic growth in our area have made the original volunteer model for firefighter positions untenable.  We need paid professional firefighter positions with the increased resulting cost.  Unfortunately, the Fire Authority Board has failed to address the redundant three-fire station situation it inherited at its inception.  The Oceano and Grover Beach stations are close enough together as to have virtually identical coverage areas and response times.  The current funding arrangement is also unfair, costing Arroyo Grande disproportionately.  Instead of addressing these fundamental problems, the Fire Authority Board voted to adopt an economically unsustainable “Strategic Plan” causing current and projected future cost increases up to nearly a million dollars per year for Arroyo Grande!  That plan would continue to maintain all three stations and fully staff them all with paid firefighters. Arroyo Grande would have to compensate for other members’ inability to fund this added staffing.  Further, the plan would have even more chief officers than when each jurisdiction had their own separate fire departments!  As early as mid-2019, we can pull out of the Fire Authority without penalty and reconstitute our own Fire Department with equivalent service at considerably less cost.  Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach could each have their own departments or join together as they did before the Fire Authority was started.  Oceano could contract for services with Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach as their available funding would allow.  Withdrawing would return direct financial control over fire protection to the city and enable balanced budgets in the future.  But because of the contract to stay with the Authority into 2019, we have had to make very difficult staff reductions and service cuts to balance this year’s city budget.  Reorganizing our own Fire Department will prevent the need for more and more severe cuts to city services in the future.

Implement secondary process redundancy at SSLOCSD and move toward wastewater recycling

Summary

We are designing and will install a redundant secondary process train to set the stage for wastewater recycling throughout the five cities.

There are four stages of treatment required for wastewater to be completely reprocessed back to pure drinking water quality.  Our South County wastewater treatment plant currently provides the first two of these stages -primary and secondary treatment- and discharges the treated effluent to the ocean.  The primary treatment consists of two digester sets, either of which can process the full flow stream, which allows the other set of equipment to be taken out of service for maintenance.  The secondary treatment consists of a clarifier and filter, but there is no redundant equipment for this part of the process.  This equipment has been in service continuously since the plant was built, and is not capable of the reliability necessary to consistently meet updated discharge license requirements.  In response, we are currently designing a redundant secondary process train, upgraded to consistently meet newer discharge quality requirements.  Adding this redundant process train will be costly but will also become the basis for adding the last two process stages that will provide drinking water quality treatment.  70% of the influent water can be recycled (and on and on) with considerably less environmental impact and at less cost than desalination.  We are currently working with the San District and Pismo Beach on the "Central Coast Blue"project to ultimately recycle all of the area wastewater to drinking water purity standards.  This will provide a new pure water resource in the future.

Assure development proposals are compatible with neighborhoods and preserve water resources

Summary

Excessive residential development adversely impacts our scarce water resource and can cause adverse financial consequences in the future as ability to pay for increased service demand falls short.  We need revenue generating commercial development to maintain our financial viability and the maintenance of parks, streets, sidewalks and drainage facilities, and essential services going forward.

The symptoms are traffic congestion, insufficient parking, loss of neighborhood character, overuse of water resources, and increased demand on city services and budgets.  The cause is excessive residential development out of proportion to commercial development.  This has happened because high density "market rate" residential development is hugely profitable to developers who can rezone low cost agricultural or commercial property or ignore the intent of "mixed use" zoning to jam as many residential units as possible into the smallest area possible at the highest price possible.  These developments are immensely profitable to build but may often have immediate adverse consequences and typically do not provide adequate financial support for the city going forward.  The ultimate result of runaway residential development will be additional cost and impacted water and other resources for current residents.

Property taxes are not enough to fund even half of our emergency response services.  The other half of emergency response plus all other city services –parks, street repairs, sidewalks, drainage- all are largely paid for by sales tax revenue from businesses in the city.  That means additional commercial development, not residential developments, is what we need for sustained financial viability.  We must hold firm that our commercial districts be developed for commercial purposes and not be converted to residential.  Mixed use must feature a meaningful commercial contribution, not be misused to cram in projects that are in fact 99% residential with token space for a lemonade stand that claims to meet the requirement but deliberately sidesteps the intent.  We have too much vacant commercial property, such as along Grand Avenue, that needs to be developed to help generate revenue and contribute meaningfully to the ongoing vitality of the city.

Community development should work for business development - business growth and recruitment rather than the fleeting financial interest of residential developers.   I’ll continue to work to reduce red tape and impediments to business development.   We need to insist that commercial development be given priority as that’s the only way the budgets of the future will be balanced without severe cutbacks to infrastructure maintenance and essential services.

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