How democracy could be changing in small coastal town of Pescadero

When small town politics means giving your community a bigger seat at the table, Pescadero locals say they may be open to change.

Friday, July 5, 2024
How democracy could be changing in small coastal town of Pescadero
There's now a proposal for the Pescadero Municipal Advisory Council to be elected positions instead of voluntary ones.

PESCADERO, Calif. (KGO) -- The Spanish word Pescadero, loosely translated, means Fishmonger.

People in San Francisco eagerly leave the commotion of the city to travel to this sleepy coastal town where folks do what they do.

"People like to see a town like this, if you notice down the main street there is no center line and we just wave people and you can double park like that for 15 minutes and people just go around you," laughed Rob Skinner, a member of the Pescadero Municipal Advisory Council. "If we had a center line, visitors wouldn't know what to do."

Outsiders are tolerated on weekends and in the summer months. There are reasons to come, Duarte's Tavern and its green chile and artichoke soup for one. Never leave without a slice of the olallieberry pie.

Quite often the popularity of this town lies in the acceptance that a fast-paced life is often disconnected from nature.

Some end up staying.

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"You know I'm tired of living in Los Angeles. I just wanted to go somewhere where I can sleep in the woods and maybe grow some vegetables," explained Patrick Horn on why he moved here.

Horn did more than just move to Pescadero. He chose to be part of its Municipal Advisory Council that includes San Gregorio, Pescadero and Loma Mar.

Skinner likes that each seat on the advisory council is a voluntary position.

They haven't held elections since 2008.

Their only role is to advise the San Mateo County supervisor, currently Ray Mueller, who represents them before the board.

"We have absolutely no authority. Anything we do of consequence has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors," explained Skinner.

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But this kind of community representation is not about to change. What is being proposed is an advisory council, this time, elected by the people in the area. Seven seats in all.

Mueller believes having elected advisory councilmembers will give them more credibility before voters as they tackle big issues like the housing crisis and the push for more affordable units.

"I need to know that I have community members that have been elected to weigh in on those decisions by the community, have talked about those issues with the community and that's going to give it more import at the county when we move forward with those plans," said Supervisor Mueller.

"The farmworkers can't afford to pay for the food they grow. They live in sometimes squalid, undignified conditions, revealed Horn who anticipates running for the same seat he now occupies.

"I think it's a great idea. It's America and this is a democracy," he added.

But with democracy comes rules, things like financial disclosure not to mention spending money on campaigning, something they've never had to do.

"In my case, I'd be embarrassed," laughed Skinner.

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It's too early to tell how voters scattered along the coast will take to these proposed changes.

"In fact, I don't even think they know. We don't have a newspaper, there's no real communication here, word of mouth," said Skinner.

Bill Bishop who owns an art gallery called Madrone Arts in town had a few suggestions.

"Everybody talks to each other and the coffee shop is a good place to learn things," said Bishop.

Skinner admits this may be the most exciting thing that has happened in Pescadero in a long time.

"Well, yeah, this might be it. We haven't had many changes," he added.

Change is never guaranteed, but when small town politics means giving your community a bigger seat at the table, locals say they may be willing to try.

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