SLO County supervisors explore lawsuit to fight state stay-at-home order

Jan 8, 2021

San Luis Obispo County officials have voted in favor of exploring a lawsuit against the state to challenge the governor’s stay-at-home order.

In a motion made at this week's county board of supervisors meeting, District 1 representative John Peschong advocated that SLO County should break away from the Southern California region and return to the state’s purple tier. 

“If you look at the numbers and you look at the counties around us, we have done well with 50 percent of the beds available in the ICU on any given day,” Peschong said.

Passing in a 3-2 vote, supported by supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton, Peschong’s motion directs county counsel to look into the legal options of challenging the governor's order.

Arnold said the county should not be lumped with the LA and San Diego region, saying SLO County has succeeded in managing the virus. She cites construction at the beginning of the pandemic of the Cal Poly Alternative Care site, a facility on the university campus prepared to handle a surge of 900 COVID patients if needed. 

“It was really an amazing feat, it was done in one month," Arnold said. "It was the largest and quickest in the state of California. In other words, we can take care of ourselves.” 

The idea of the lawsuit was met with opposition from supervisors Dawn Ortiz-Legg and Bruce Gibson. Gibson said although he does believe SLO County should not be lumped with the Southern California region, he isn’t in favor of suing because of a slim chance of actually succeeding in court.

“I think it would be a waste of time and staff energy," Gibson said. "The track record of lawsuits filed challenging the Governors order is that 47 have been rejected, two are still in play, but the analysis that I’ve heard is they have next to no chance in prevailing.”

With the motion passing, the county’s attorneys will now return at the next meeting on January 26 to present legal options in a closed session. People can voice their opinions on the idea of possible litigation in that meeting before the supervisors close the floor to meet in private to vote on it.