Endorsement Statement by Eric Meyer, SLO Planning Commissioner

I endorse Jan Marx for mayor of San Luis Obispo.

This is not because I don’t like Heidi Harmon.  I do very much like Heidi Harmon.  I signed Heidi’s nomination papers I like her so much.  I very much want Heidi to add to the discussion here in SLO.   But being successful as mayor requires knowing and understanding the positions of all the players. You need the private home and cell phone numbers of the people at SLOCOG, APCD, Cal Poly, the Housing Authority, EVC, county staff, city staff, city special interest groups etc. etc etc.  You also need a total knowledge of each of the city’s elements within the General Plan… and how the each evolved over time… because those elements are what the voters of SLO have endorsed as their vision of how the city should move forward.  That part doesn’t happen fast.

It takes years to completely grok all of it.  I was a city Planning Commissioner for 5 years… and have been a County Planning Commissioner for almost 4 now…  It took me about 4 years just to really understand how it all worked.  It has taken me another few just to understand the enormous amount of political capital it takes to get any real change made amongst groups of people with disparate interest.

I encourage Heidi and will completely support her if she runs for council… or wants to be a Planning Commissioner.  She is awesome.  She has been a massive contributor to the discussion on the Oil Trains and other large issues here in SLO.   I signed her nomination papers because I love her energy and I do not believe an incumbent should run unchallenged.  I believe that Heidi’s challenge to Jan Marx… has caused Jan to really analyze her own positions… and this can only be good for us.

Specifically I believe that Jan is now open to changing her position on the Rental Housing Ordinance.   And I think we can thank Heidi for this.   Jan and I have discussed a revised ordinance where landlords will be held accountable and made to annually sign papers along with the licensing of their rental each year, stating that their units are safe and legal.   In this revised ordinance tenants will NOT be subjected to searches.  In this revised ordinance, if there is a complaint by the tenant… and the tenant so desires to invite the city in to see the issue… then the landlord will be legally liable if they lied on their statement to the city.  And that Landlord can then be dealt with legally by the city.

I really wish Heidi would have run for council… rather than mayor.   The mayor’s job is about 20% big issues things.  The big issue things are big in the eyes of the voter… and typically not boring!  But 80% of the job of mayor is tiny, boring, and tedious actions that require sitting for hours and hours and hours, reading tens of thousands of pages of documents.  It also requires knowing all the minuscule details of public policy, finance, city ordinances, and all the players responsible.

Jan and Heidi are really not that far apart from one another.  They have many more shared values than differences.  Heidi will make a great planning commissioner and or an excellent council person.  With that experience she could make a great mayor someday.  I encourage the future council to ask her to join the planning commission as soon as there is an opening… and I encourage her to run for council next time.

But for Mayor I will be supporting Jan Marx.  Because to sit in the Mayor’s seat… you need experience to know the process, the ordinances, the elements, the people, and the challenges of letting go of your own personal beliefs in order to reach the compromises required to govern a body of people with wildly differing points of view.

Eric Meyer     Planning Commissioner, District 3, County of San Luis Obispo, CA