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SLO supervisors vote to analyze county waste management agency, consider breaking up IWMA

Integrated Waste Management Authority
Recycle bin

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, May 18 to spend $32,000 on a cost-benefit analysis of the county’s regional waste management agency.

The three conservative supervisors on the board are considering putting the county Public Works Department in charge of waste management instead of the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA).

The IWMA was formed in 1994 to handle SLO County’s waste management and ensure compliance with state policy.

It’s come under fire recently for voting to ban polystyrene products such as Styrofoam cups in the county.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the three conservative supervisors expressed concern that the IWMA was overstepping its boundaries by legislating throughout the county, though they didn’t bring up the polystyrene ban.

“I’m for local control and bringing it back to where the public has input and there are local elected officials, and not being controlled by other cities, where I don’t represent and where my constituents don’t live,” said Supervisor Lynn Compton.

Many of the callers during public comment echoed that sentiment, although the IWMA board is made up of elected officials, including the five supervisors.

The two liberal supervisors also voted in favor of the study, though they don’t support the county leaving the IWMA.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson said such a move would make waste management in SLO County more costly.

“The unfortunate thing is we know roughly what’s going to happen should this county choose to leave the IWMA, and that means that government is going to get more expensive, the government’s going to get less efficient,” Gibson said.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune Editorial Board said in an op-ed that the “IWMA board did the right thing in banning polystyrene.”

They also said the move to consider pulling out of the IWMA amounts to “a bullying move born out of pure spite” for the agency’s decision to ban polystyrene across the county.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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