Living in Pismo Beach – Jeff Lee

Living in Pismo Beach, where we connect you with some of our favorite people who live and work on the Central Coast. Those community and business leaders who make living on the Coast such a unique and diverse experience.

Episode #10

Jeff Lee
Mayor of Grover Beach, CA

Jeff Lee, Mayor of Grover Beach, CA, joins Ashlea Foster Boyer, Shannon Bowdey & Jordan Hamm on Living In Pismo Beach.

Ashlea Boyer:

Hey, everybody. How’s it going?

Shannon Bowdey:

Hey.

Jordan Hamm:

Hi. Good.

Shannon Bowdey:

Good. An exciting week for Shannon.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yes. Madam president.

Shannon Bowdey:

Thank you.

Jordan Hamm:

Yeah. [inaudible 00:00:35].

Ashlea Boyer:

Oh.

Shannon Bowdey:

Thank you.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah. Shannon is the new president of the Pismo Beach five cities rotary club.

Jordan Hamm:

Huge job.

Shannon Bowdey:

Yeah.

Ashlea Boyer:

And also Jordan, [crosstalk 00:00:47], she’s going to be a land Baron real estate guru. She’s almost closing on her first central coast property.

Jordan Hamm:

I know. Yeah. We’ve been packing and cleaning all week and I’m so sore, but we’re super excited to own on the central coast.

Ashlea Boyer:

Awesome.

Shannon Bowdey:

That’s awesome.

Ashlea Boyer:

That’s fantastic.

Shannon Bowdey:

Congratulations.

Ashlea Boyer:

All right. Well, I’m excited about this week’s guest, Mayor Jeff Lee, mayor of Grover Beach.

Jordan Hamm:

Yeah. He is joining us. Jeff moved to Grover Beach in 2001 and began volunteering with the parks, recreation and beautification commission in 2009 until he was elected to the city council in 2012 and reelected in 2016.

Shannon Bowdey:

Yes, Jeff was elected mayor in 2018, and has been honored to serve the community over the past two years.

Ashlea Boyer:

Jeff’s a registered professional engineer with a Bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering from Merrimack College. He works for the San Luis Obispo County department of public works in the design division architectural services group. So. Let’s welcome in Jeff.

Hey there, Jeff.

Jordan Hamm:

Hey, Jeff

Jeff Lee:

Good morning, everybody.

Ashlea Boyer:

How are you?

Jeff Lee:

Good, how’s everybody doing?

Jordan Hamm:

Good. Good to see you.

Shannon Bowdey:

Good. How about you?

Jeff Lee:

Thank you. Thanks. Happy Friday.

Jordan Hamm:

What brought you to Grover Beach?

Jeff Lee:

Well, I’m originally actually from Connecticut. And so, after graduating college, I moved to California because the economy had fallen out of existence on the East coast and in the early ’90s. So moved to California to Calaveras County of all places, and worked with a ton of people that graduated from Cal Poly, and they could not be quiet about San Luis Obispo. So in ’94, ’95, I said, “I’ve got to go figure out what San Luis Obispo County is all about and lived here until I went and met my wife in ’97. We moved into her condo in Arroyo Grande, and then in 2001, we bought a house in Grover Beach literally a mile from where her condo was. But the wonderful thing is she had a series of cymbidiums and so forth that were doing absolutely nothing in Arroyo Grande. We moved literally a mile away and now we can’t get them to stop blooming. And so, a it’s wonderful area cymbidiums, but we’ve been here since 2001 and loved the everyday sense.

Ashlea Boyer:

Awesome. Yeah. The cymbidiums love that little bit of coastal influence. [crosstalk 00:03:17]. They like a little bit of that fog. Yeah.

Jordan Hamm:

Yeah.

Shannon Bowdey:

Yeah. So, why did you decide to become a community leader, both as city council member and now mayor?

Jeff Lee:

Well, as moving to Grover Beach in 2001, it’s one of those places where as you guys know, just the central coast kind of you call it home as soon as you can. And I had made the decision to, as we put down roots in here and said, “I need to get involved with the community.” And in 2009, I had an opportunity to actually be appointed to the parks, rec and beautification commission, which as I always say is the fun committee, because you get a chance to meet all of the residents, all the visitors, and everybody who’s coming to town wants to do what you’re doing, whether it’s our concert series, whether it’s our parade, whether it’s something just to be happy within Grover Beach. So, that was really how I got involved in the community.

And then I would go to the city council and provide an update to them on what was happening with parks and rec. And a couple of people said, “Well, you’re here every week anyway. Why don’t you run for council?” And I had talked to my wife about that and had made the decision to say at some point, and she, with a smile and a twinkle in her eye, said, “Well, why not now?” And so, that was 2012.

And so, it’s been a great opportunity ever since. I am in the land use and the development community for my professional career. And so, I do know how planning commissions and city councils kind of work from a policy standpoint. And so, that was a real opportunity to move forward on a council level. In 2014, the measure K-14 came forward. And obviously, having a civil engineering background, really needed to go to kind of figure out how to fix our streets. And so, with the community support, we passed that, which has then allowed us to continue that, and then kind of focus me towards mayor after city council, because Grover Beach does have term limits. So we have two four year terms for council and two two year terms for mayor. And so, when our prior mayor, John Scholz, termed out in 2018, I was in a good position to be able to run for mayor, and I’ve enjoyed every day of that sense as well.

Ashlea Boyer:

That’s awesome.

Shannon Bowdey:

Very good. Thank you.

Ashlea Boyer:

So, given that you’ve been in the position for two years now, what do you consider one of your favorite accomplishments? Or do you just have one?

Jeff Lee:

Actually, I don’t have just one, but it’s always something. I was thinking of this question and it’s series of little things that culminate with the service to the community. I mean, one of the wonderful things that I did as a council member first was on Dr. Seuss Day, you get to go into the schools and you get invited to read Dr. Seuss stories to two young kids. And it’s like, you realize that just the wide-eyed vibrancy of that age group is so much fun to just participate with. But then you take a look at some of the stuff we’ve done as … Now, we turned to the fact that Grover Beach just incorporated 60 years ago. In 2019, we turned 60. And so we had an opportunity to have a selfie spot down near our new train station, #GB60. That’s still there. And then we had a 60th birthday party, which seems like so long ago in these times of COVID, where we actually got together, reenacted an old city council meeting, and had an opportunity just to say thank you to the community and enjoy that.

So, and we’ve kind of taken that energy and that spirit and brought it together under COVID as GB Together. And that’s really what we’re trying to do and make sure that the community has a way to see that we’re all in this together. We’ve got this to try and make sure that we get through it. And so, that’s kind of some of the favorite accomplishments that I see is it’s kind of a string of pearls, shall we say, to make sure that the community knows we’re here, we’re still providing the services, but we can have a little bit of fun along the way.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah. I love those signs. I love … It brings a smile to my face every time I see one. So, it’s a great campaign, yeah.

Jeff Lee:

Thank you.

Jordan Hamm:

Great idea. Okay. So now, do you envision yourself moving on to higher offices now that you’ve had all this experience in the city council and now as mayor?

Jeff Lee:

The response I always give when people ask me this is I will never say no. But right now I am really focused on mayor. So, there is a reelection campaign coming up in November. I guess that is technically an official announcement, but that’ll come [crosstalk 00:08:05].

Ashlea Boyer:

Awesome. You heard it right here.

Jeff Lee:

Right here. Exactly. So, that’ll come officially in the next couple of days, but there’s always an opportunity, again, with term limits and Grover to do something next. And I know I want to serve the community of Grover Beach in whatever way that I can, and I don’t know if that’s going to be some other elected official capacity or some other volunteer driven organization. So, we’ll kind of kind of work through that as we get there, but I’ll never say no, because I just enjoy serving the community, enjoy serving.

Ashlea Boyer:

That’s awesome.

Jordan Hamm:

Great.

Shannon Bowdey:

So, I know a new addition has been added to the city hall flag pole. Will you tell us a little bit about that?

Jeff Lee:

Certainly. So, as people have been seeing, June was pride month, now that we’re in we’re in July. And so, at our June 22nd city council meeting, we had a proclamation to honor pride month and we do proclamations, and the council commendations whenever an organization comes forward and asks us to commemorate something. And this one obviously was pride. And we had an opportunity to talk with several representatives from Five Cities Hope. And we said, “Well, if you have a pride flag as part of the proclamation and the commendation, we’d be honored to fly the pride flag for the remainder of June.”

And so, after the commendation, we did fly it at city hall for several days, and then we did move it over to Ramona Garden park where it did fly until the end of June. So we were proud to do that, proud to do that for other organizations, if they come forward and have a flag or a commendation. So, we’re happy to do that, and it got a great response on social media for that, and a great response from the community as well. So, glad we were had the chance to do that.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah, it’s awesome, because that group had so many events planned, as we all have had, and had so many things canceled, and that’s really how they raise awareness. So, it’s really awesome to see cities do things like that to kind of supplement what they’ve lost.

Jeff Lee:

Yes, yes.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah. Awesome. Well, fireworks are kind of a hot button, I would say, in our little five cities, and it isn’t just around the 4th of July holiday. What people who aren’t from here don’t know or don’t realize is that it really runs May to September and then kind of flares up again around the new year.

Jeff Lee:

Yes, indeed.

Ashlea Boyer:

So, it’s an area of concern. How does Grover Beach approach this popular, pastime, controversial topic?

Jeff Lee:

Got you. And I did just grab my water glass. You’ll notice it is the five cities fire authority [crosstalk 00:00:10:51]. And so, one of the things I wanted to say is we want to make sure that everyone is safe. And obviously our police department, as well as our five cities fire authority fire service is out there to make sure that people are safe and doing things correctly. So, in earlier this year, Arroyo Grande had changed their ordinance to where they said, “Let us modify the discharge times for fireworks from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM on just July 4th.” And so, to be consistent with that, we did also to update our ordinance to do that as well. But obviously, the firework booths are popular fundraisers for nonprofits. And so, we wanted to acknowledge that opportunity as well. And so, from, I believe it was either the 29th or the 30th, sometime over the past weekend, through July 4th, fireworks booths are open.

So, what we’ve done for illegal discharge of fireworks, because obviously the safe and sane ones are the best opportunity for our local community to enjoy that. But from a safe and sane standpoint is kind of what the fireworks boots are for. But obviously, with the Pismo Beach fireworks and in past years, the OCS … Excuse me, not the OCSC. The off highway park has had some amazingly illegal fireworks. Wonderful to look, wonderful to see, but very dangerous.

And so, what we’ve actually done in the community is we’ve increased our police undercover presence, for lack of a better term. Unmarked vehicles going around and trying to ensure that people aren’t discharging illegal fireworks. That effort has actually reduced the discharges about 50% weekend over weekend. And so, we’re trying to make sure that that continues, but we will hope that people do follow the safe and sane rules. And then, also make sure that any illegal discharges aren’t done. It’s always hard to enforce that, because per … I’m not sure if it’s the vehicle code or the civil code, you actually have to witness the discharge or the ignition of the fireworks in order to make an arrest. And so, we go around. We try to educate. We try to inform rather than the arrest, because that’s the better way to do it, and to make sure that that groups are safe on this 4th of July.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah. Yeah. I know. I’m the daughter of a retired highway patrol man and that code was one of the harder ones to enforce, because you can confiscate things if you find them, but you can’t, like you said, arrest unless you see the person lighting the match, essentially. So, that’s a hard one. But I’ve noticed, from my parents deck, because we can see all the way down the coast, that it has been reduced. So you guys are doing a great job, because there have been a weekends in the past where we’ve seen like six different displays going on not on the holiday.

Jeff Lee:

Right.

Ashlea Boyer:

So yeah. It’s definitely doing some good there. Well, I don’t have any other questions for you, but we want to thank you for coming on. It’s been great seeing you and talking to you.

Jordan Hamm:

Thank you so much, Jeff. [crosstalk 00:14:15].

Jeff Lee:

Thank you for the opportunity. If I can just close with just one little-

Shannon Bowdey:

Yeah.

Ashlea Boyer:

Oh, yeah.

Jeff Lee:

A quick little item is if people do want to learn more about the city, we did just revamp our website. You can visit that at www or groverBeach.org. Very user friendly. And we have just released our first electronic newsletter called the Grover Gazette. And so, that gives people the opportunity to update themselves on what’s happening in the community, what’s coming up, and so, two different ways to electronically figure out what’s going on in your community. And then once COVID lifts, hopefully soon, and we can get back to gathering, we’ll start to have more events again, and look forward to people coming out and enjoying our city.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah, you have a great park and great concerts. We’re looking forward to getting back to stone soup and all of that good stuff.

Jeff Lee:

Yes, indeed. So, next year it’s going to be amazing.

Ashlea Boyer:

It is. It’s going to be awesome.

Jeff Lee:

Yeah.

Ashlea Boyer:

Thank you so much, Jeff.

Jeff Lee:

Thank you very much.

Shannon Bowdey:

Thank you.

Ashlea Boyer:

This is Ashlea Boyer.

Jordan Hamm:

Jordan Hamm.

Shannon Bowdey:

And Shannon Bowdey.

Shannon Bowdey:

With the Pismo Beach Homes team.

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