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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ron Crawford's Yin & Yang over at www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com. Cause & effect, truth & consequences, Dreamies & Realities. If you ever wanted to know what some of your neighbors thought of you and moved heaven and earth to attempt to get, just for you, their dear and gentle fellow Los Ososians, do take a gander at the nice selection of crunch and bite that Ron's assembled for you. Selected readings for your contemplation. Bon appetite!

36 comments:

Shark Inlet said...

It is nice that Ron finally has something new to say and that he's finally addressing cost questions and the issue of what whether the current board's actions are wise or costly.

Hold on a moment.

Oops, spoke too soon.

Maybe I am asking too much when I suggest that Ron and Ann even look into the money question. Maybe they just don't care how much things cost but are instead interested in other issues like whether we've got a park or whether the RWQCB does things differently than "regular" courts of law.

Spectator said...

To sharky:

So what do you expect from these two? Brillience? Solutions?

These people are too busy chasing "pie in the sky", even though they will never be able to catch it. The days of worrying about money are over. As the fictional Alfred E. Newman would say "What me worry?"

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Selling out your own community to The State ain't no news to you all, Inlet, Speculum, maybe cuz you helped write some of those missives to The water board. Maybe y'all joked about it over drinks with Pandora or francisco. Apologist cronie bastards.
How much money Realtor Jerry Gregory make off Osos over the years?? What a service to his town...

Anonymous said...

Dont'cha just love that new TV show named Numb@rs? Is that young math whiz good or what? I do wonder, however, if even he could run the numbers on the Los Osos sewer and make any sense out of them?

Numbers are usually a good place to start when making comparisons and evaluating differences. Most physical things can be measured, quantified, performance anaylized, and cost-effectivity evaluated. Sadly, numbers are not inherently truthful and can be made to lie. Never-the-less, while numbers are not necessarily more truthful they do tend to be clearer, more precise and more easily documented and proven than words, emotions and even history.

When I first started reading this blog over a year ago one of the main points of contention was that no numeric analysis comparing Tri-W to any other options had ever been completed. Tri-W was simply presented as Cheaper, Better and Faster with no numeric evaluation to subtantiate those claims. Oh, there were lots of "if its Faster it HAS to be Cheaper and therefore Better" arguments. There were also lots of "It HAS to be Cheaper using SRF subsidized funds" so any plan which leverages these monies has to be Better. Interestingly Faster and Cheaper can be measured with numbers but Better is not so easily measured. One would think that a better versus worse sewer facility could be easily analyzed but sewers are funny. People don't want to live next door to sewers so the placement of sewers becomes a hard to measure factor. And the eco-environmental benefits of different sewer designs are also open to interpretation. No, numbers aren't a perfect way to evaluate sewer options but they do seem a good place to start.

Shark Inlet has repeatedly referred to a spreadsheet he authored as proof for his perspectives. Kudos to him! Until numbers for other alternatives are posted for comparison his are the only numbers on the board. Sadly his numbers are not 'official numbers' and unless they can be precisely documented they aren't worth any more than words. Perhaps less. Still, if they're the only numbers we've got lets start there. Uh, Shark, where exactly is that spreadsheet? I blinked and missed it somewhere along the way. Can you post or link to it again? Also, you could save us all a few more rounds of he-said, she-said, where did you get those $%^*&! numbers if you would annotate the basis of the numbers. Footnotes for numbers are always good. I for one would like to see them. Then I will try to sit patiently until the CSD presents some numbers for other alternatives. They are gonna do that aren't they? Only one alternative? Dang. Isn't this where I came in?

Me thinks my California Dream has turned into a nightmare.

Shark Inlet said...

The excel file I posted is here. (You may want to right-click to open the file in a new window or save rather than just following the link.)

I can justify few of the numbers, most are my guesstimates. Should anyone have more solid information than I have, I would love to update things to be more realistic. In any case, one benefit of the spreadsheet is that you (or anyone) could adjust the numbers to match up to your own guesstimates. Along those lines, I've tried several possible futures and none of them are good. However, uniformly going back to TriW is the least expensive of the remaining options.

Okay, my guesstimates and possible justifications...

$5M to design an out of town plant. This was approximately the cost to design TriW.

$120M to construct an out of town plant. This is some $20M less than t he cost of construction at TriW. Ponds and STEP are less expensive, aren't they? Seriously, I don't know, but several including Ron has claimed that the costs associated with TriW (like the park and the extra odor scrubbing) add about $20M.

Land Costs. I am assuming that if they buy an out of town plot of land they will be able to do so for $5M less than what they'll make by selling off TriW and Broderson. (What they'll do with the disposal issue, we don't know ... Ag Exchange, I suppose they'll tell us.)

Siting and Legal costs, $4M. Actually that seems a bit low considering the current legal situation.

5 years until construction starts. I actually believe that is a bit optimistic, but what the heck.

Inflation rate on construction ... 8%. This number is actually pretty variable and depends on lots of stuff like the costs of diesel, concrete and steel (which are going up) and labor costs (which might not go up much should the construction boom slow down).

Sunk costs. $20M to design, site, buy land and permit TriW. The other $8M is RWQCB fines and other costs so far (like lawyer fees). I should probably also have included money owed to contractors for work already performed, but I don't know how much that is.

Fines of $3.65M per year are those associated with the ACL hearings. If the LOCSD wins their appeal of those fines, clearly this should be zeroed out. Somehow I doubt that we'll win that battle.

Similar could be said for the pumping charges.

The interest rate set at 7% is probably far lower than we'll really be able to get at a CCC rating. Even at 10% we may be unable to find enough bond buyers to finance the total costs. One thing to keep in mind is that maybe the CSD will borrow over 30 years instead of 20. This is both good and bad. Good in that the monthly payment is lower, but bad in that the total paid is far higher.

I assumed that the monthly O&M would be about 40 for TriW (based on the total per month they told us) and 30 for out of town because Lisa told us they estimated a $10/month savings back in November.

I also tossed in charges of $1000 to pump out and fill in a septic tank should we go with gravity but $5000 should we need to buy new septic tanks.

As Ann and others are good at pointing out, all of these numbers are just speculation and based on guesstimates and she hates speculation. (Interestingly enough, Ripley's numbers will be based on exactly the same speculation but it will be from professionals, so it will probably be more well thought out than what I presented ... it had better be for $500k.)

In any case, take the spreadsheet and try your own guesstimates and "what if" scenarios. It doesn't take too much playing around to see that even with the most optimistic of futures, starting TriW immediately will be far better than continuing to fight the state.



You have an excellent point about the CSD studying only one alternative because they want to save money. Originally I thought that they were going to study all options and make the wisest choice, but if they're only spending money to study one option at the same time they intend to sell off TriW, they're no better than the last board who seemed sort of open to only one possibility.

Dogpatch Refugee said...

"Sadly his numbers are not 'official numbers' and unless they can be precisely documented they aren't worth any more than words."
sez anon about inlet's calculations. Agreed.
"I can justify few of the numbers, most are my guesstimates."
sez inlet in a rare moment of candor.
Even gives Mr. Ripley the benefit of maybe being capable of making a better analysis. Mighty big of ya, inlet.

Numbers are cold, tears are warm.

The Tyranny of the State is fueled by numbers being given more meaning and value than tears. It is also fueled by collaboraters and apologists.
Law often does not equally justice.
Edicts neither.

Shark Inlet said...

So Dogpatch ... why do you think I am so concerned about the costs?

Because it is my friends and neighbors who are going to have to move out of town because of the unwise choices that you seem to support. Do you really think that things will get less expensive?

Just for you, my friend, I tried something. I zeroed out pumping charges and fines entirely. However, I used a more realistic bond rate of 10%. In any case, if it took 5 years to start construction, it would only be less expensive than TriW if the total bill of the collection system and WWTF is $40M. (Considering even Lisa told us that the $70M cost of the collection system associated with TriW could not likely be beat, it is unlikely.)

Who, exactly do you cry for? For any of those who will be forced out of town now that your buddies have taken over?

TriW wasn't good, but it was clearly the lesser of two evils.

Anonymous said...

tdp> Yes, numbers are cold while tears are warm. But there will be fewer tears if the numbers lead us to a good solution.

Thanks Shark Inlet. The spreadsheet and your footnotes are helpful. I'm not sufficiently versed in the numbers to know how valid these guesstimates might be. But they are posted and footnoted so others who are knowledgeable can make their own cases.

I suppose it's asking too much to discount or even ignore the guesstimates for Tri-W before the work stoppage. That is no longer an option, right? The fact is decisions were made, votes taken and we are now well beyond that option. It serves only to describe a path not taken and to distract from the other columns which are the important ones. At some point it is necessary to let go of what might have been and get on with the task in front of us. That doesn't mean we don't learn from the past if such lessons can be applied to the future. But far too much energy and animosity is being squandered on the politics of the past, producing only devisiveness, when Los Osos is better served by focusing on the future. Some people would rather beat a dead horse than get on down the trail.

I wish I knew enough to add some other columns. Such as On-site pre-treatment feeding a reduced load treatment facility (both an in-town and an out-of-town facility).

I also wonder what it would cost to design, build & operate a facility capable of supporting the real loading capacity of Los Osos (now and in the future) and not just the current toilets in the PZ. Does anybody really believe if we build the minimal acceptable system now this isn't going to come back and bite us a few more years down the road? This is the kind of head-in-the-sand thinking that got us in this situation in the first place. Granted, only the people in the PZ are under the CDO gun so there is no inducement for the rest of the community to want to join this mess. But wouldn't it be cheaper for them to address their infrastructure issues now when they could piggy-back on the current sewer solution? How would the numbers change if the costs were distributed more widely? To encourage them to buy-in they needn't pay a full share. Or even plug in any time soon. Sooner rather than later they too will be forced off septic and then what?

BTW, in some of the details:
How are the CDO cost/pumping ($350 million) and CDO pumping costs ($94.5 million) calculated? What are these and why are they only costs for for the Out Of Town sewer?

How many households were used to calculate the per household costs (5000?). Is this an accurate number? Does it include some or even full build-out of the PZ?

Happy Happiness Daydream ....

Anonymous said...

BTW,
I didn't mean to distract or detract from Ron Crawford's excellent Yin & Yang piece with an off-topic post. I think Ron add's some delightful and appropriate spice to the brew. When there's so much muck a little muck racking is in order. When citizens send such unconscionable tripe to a public offical with unimpeachable power, begging for admittedly extreme and over-harsh penalities for other citizens, then their names and actions should be called out!! My god, who do these people think they are? Do they really want to live and work in this community? To have a strong commitment to something is good. To desire other people to be hurt for your commitment and for your gain is simply sick. If this is where their path is taking them its way past time to get a grip. Me? I'm sick to my stomach that fellow citizens would do this. I'm gonna have to listen to weeks and weeks of the Thomas Jefferson Hour to get the sour out of my system.

Save the Nightmare just keeps getting worse .....

Shark Inlet said...

I used 5000 properties for the calculation. If the actual number were only 4700, increase all monthly payments by about 6%

If all propreties in Los Osos were to tie in, reduce all monthly payments by 15%. However, why someone would volunteer to pay $200 or $300 per month when they are not required to is beyond me. The Monarch Grove neighborhood wanted to tie into the LOCSD project when it was only going to cost them slightly more than running their own plant, but now that the current CSD has chosen another path, the MG HOA is not interested. Again, why would anyone want to pay $300 per month when they could get the same needs met for $150 per month? (If they would assess themselves the full $300 per month but it only costs $150 per month, after four years they would have over $500k that they could use to build a whole new plant should their fail.)

On pumping costs, I guessed that it would cost $350 per pumping and that one would need to pump six times per year until 2010 then 18 times per year afterwards until the plant is compeleted. Obviously some would need to pump more often than others, but pumping only 18 times per year and $350 per pumping are likely underestimates, so the $94M is likely lower than the actual pumping costs if it is reqired. Also, extra time is very very expensive ... every additional year is $6300 per household. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Cool. So why are CDO pumping costs only associated with the Out of Town option? The In Town option might mean some fewer months of pumping but there would still be some years of pumping regardless of where the facility is located, no? Why are there goose eggs in that column for these expenses?

> Again, why would anyone want to pay $300 per month when they could get the same needs met for $150 per month?

Good point. Which I why I originally said:
"...To encourage them to buy-in they needn't pay a full share. Or even plug in any time soon."

I don't know what that model looks like. I have no idea whether it would fly. I don't know if its ever been considered. Granted, it wouldn't be an easy sale. But its the smart thing to do. It seems to me that building a minimal criteria sewer system at huge costs serving only a small portion of the valley doesn't even sound penny wise and dollar foolish. It sounds foolish through and through. Wouldn't ALL of Los Osos be well served to begin thinking and planning as a city rather than small little sewer fiefdoms. Clearly people will only support things in their best interest. I'm not proposing open pocket altruism. So what does planning for their best interest look like? Is there any benefit at all for the MG HOA to plug in to a larger sewer system? At what cost? If they're already paying $150/month is there any benefit to them paying that same rate to the Los Osos sewer system rather than maintaining their own system indefinitely? That probably doesn't change the economics of the new sewer a whole lot but its a step in the right direction.

And what about future build-outs in and around the PZ and further development elsewhere in the valley? You don't really think Los Osos isn't going to grow over the next 30 years? The valley is ecologically sensitive. But growth is gonna happen - pollution and water be damned. Designing a sane(r) solution for the entire community is not only the right thing to do but is probably the most cost effective thing to do for the PZ. (Read: Cheaper, Better, and maybe even Faster.)

Heck, I don't know. Ya think maybe SRF or other subsidized funds might be available for a sewer solution which addresses future growth of the entire entire valley for the next 40+ years?

Shark Inlet said...

Why no pumping costs for resuming TriW? Oversight on my part. On the other hand, if the CSD were to vote immediately to pursue bonds to start back up with TriW construction, I suspect the RWQCB would table any further CDO discussions.

About getting others to buy in at a reduced cost .... I think the idea is a good one but it won't happen. No one will voluntarily buy in at full cost as you point out. If the cost were reduced to get Monarch Grove to buy in, they would happily do so and the CSD would be able to spread some of the huge fixed costs over a larger group of people. The problem here is that many would say it is unfair for some to be able to buy in "on the cheap". Literally, the homes outside the PZ tend to be the pricier properties and those with the higher incomes. In other words, it would be like giving a "rich guy" discount. Not gonna fly. Even if it were to reduce the payment of those in the PZ by some $20 per month (and that might be the best it could do even if all those outside the PZ were to buy in at $100 per month).

The most cost effective thing for those in the PZ is to build today at TriW and let others in the future who need water and sewage treatment provide their own wanter and sewage treatment solutions. If you think that asking those in the PZ today to pay for their own wastewater treatment is difficult, try asking them to pay for their own wastewater treatment and to put in the inferstructure for future growth as well. Maybe if those who own the land now that the future growth will occur on wante to pay now for the sewer to be built now it would fly.

On another matter, you are right that it is probably worth removing or ignoring the column entitled TriW before work stoppage for one reason ... it is not an option anymore. However, it does nicely show how amazingly bad things have gotten in the last half a year under the current board.

If the Ripley study comes back and says anthing like "well, its now a gonna run you $300/month" this board is doomed. People will get angry and vote them out in November.

Anonymous said...

>> Why no pumping costs for resuming TriW?
> Oversight on my part. On the other hand, if the CSD were to vote immediately to pursue bonds to start back up with TriW construction, I suspect the RWQCB would table any further CDO discussions.

Curious oversight. Also curious presumption given the RWQCB words of record. Maybe. Maybe not. Everything about the CDO's is both questionable and stinky. Kind of a joker in the deck. I think if you're going to do a fair analysis based on numbers the numbers should be used consistently across the board except where each plan obviously deviates. See previous note about numbers being used to lie.

> About getting others to buy in at a reduced cost ....
> I think the idea is a good one but it won't happen.
> The problem here is that many would say it is unfair for some to be able to buy in "on the cheap".
> In other words, it would be like giving a "rich guy" discount. Not gonna fly.
> Even if it were to reduce the payment of those in the PZ by some $20 per month ....


Wow, this coming from the champion of saving every dollar? $20 here, $20 there. It all adds up. Why not save wherever we can. Give people the option of cutting their monthly bill by $20, $30, or $50 and you might be surprised how many will go for it. You can look at it as giving away discounts or you can look at as distributing expenses and cutting our costs. Since its dollars in my pocket its easy for me to see it as a way to save some money.

> $20 per month (and that might be the best it could do even if all those outside the PZ were to buy in at $100 per month).

I don't know whether that's a good number or not. But its a nice number so let's play with it. $100 times how many houses now? (What number did you use to get a $20/mo decrease?) Plus all future development? Assuming 1:1, for each house added from outside the PZ the PZ monthly fee goes down from $300 to $200, to $166, to $150, to ..... See how it works? That's how we turn an expensive sewer into a *Cheaper* sewer.

> The most cost effective thing for those in the PZ is to build today at TriW and let others in the future who need water and sewage treatment provide their own wanter and sewage treatment solutions.

No. Take off your Tri-W glasses for just a minute. Your numbers say the most cost effective solution for those in the PZ is to distribute the costs as much as they can. Regardless of how much discount they have to float. The more the *Better*. Then pay the loan off as quickly as possible. How quickly would the loan get paid off if every new toilet in the valley decremented the loan? 15 years? 10 years? Maybe less? I don't know, population growth and build out numbers would be helpful here. These are details and numbers I don't have but they could be guesstimated.

As you've already pointed out repeatedly, the cost of money is a huge lever arm in this accounting. *Faster* doesn't necessarily mean building it faster! Far better to take a year or two longer to build the sane sewer the right way then pay it off quickly than to build it quickly if it means only those in the PZ pay for 30 years. Ugh! That's what *Faster means now!

And the float doesn't have to stay forever. Eventually, when the financing is paid off everybody goes to a flat rate. Or some such. Again, I don't know what this model looks like. Lots of details would need to be worked out.

> Maybe if those who own the land now that the future growth will occur on wante to pay now for the sewer to be built now it would fly.

That would be nice but highly unlikely. But that doesn't mean it won't fly. Build a sewer and they will come. (sorry about that.) Community sewer breaks the building moratorium; Spawning increased development; Meaning more toilets paying sewer fees; Ergo faster pay-off. It doesn't all have to happen on day 1. The Better, Faster & Cheaper sewer is designed with capacity for more users. The faster they get added the faster the loan gets paid off. We know at the beginning the longest it will take to pay off the loan. But it could grow shorter.

And I still wonder if SRF funds might be available for a valley-wide solution. That would make it even faster.

Please note, this isn't an argument against or for Tri-W. Its for any solution that distributes the costs. I'm late to this dance so I can only presume this line of thought was researched before. Then, for seemingly appropriate reasons I'm sure, the limited PZ sewer was deemed the way to go. Probably would have been too if it had been built 6 years ago. But a lot has changed since then so maybe its time to revisit this idea.

Shark Inlet said...

Your points are well taken.

Fair is fair. $350 every other month for two years (to complete the plant and sewer) would be about another $4200 per household. That's pretty comparable to my guestimated difference in septic replacement versus septic fill in.

To get a $20 decrease, we could (by assuming the cost of the collection system and WWTF would not increase ... hahaha) spread the bill over 6000 homes, not just 5000. The extra 1000 would pay only $100 per month instead of the regular $400. The lowering in cost for those in the PZ is tiny. I also doubt that folks will take too kindly to paying $380 when those up the hill pay only $100. The math works, the politics doesn't.

On other issues it sounds like you are pushing for state water and for the County to re-zone the western end of the valley just so that the costs could be distributed over a wider group. To do this would take years (re-zoning AG land as residential is the quick part).

Please remember, the bulk of the costs (over half) associated with this project are the costs of the collecion system. You won't be able to charge developers for these costs. These costs will also make it difficult to get folks in Cabrillo (for example) to tie in. To get them to cover a portion of the WWTF and trunk lines to the western portion of town, they would need to put in the rest of the system. The cost would make it quite high. I doubt they would want to pay this much.

Essentially some $70M of the costs are collection system and some $30M in sunk costs ... this $100M cannot be spread out over others ... these are costs associated with only the PZ.

Good ideas but I am not sure that they'll work out as easily as I would hope they would. I sound like a pessimist, but I've predicted every turn of events in Los Osos sewer stuff over the last eight 7 years accurately with the Murphy's Law.

PublicWorks said...

Jeez, Shark,

Finally some decent responses with IDEAS based on black and white, not vitriol.

It only took about 6 months of you practically begging. Imagine if the recall had put forth some THOUGHT-OUT spreadsheets and had them ready for the agencies before and after taking office.

You know, like A PLAN. Like INFORMING the voters of the risks, insteading of saying it'll be $100/month la, la, la, la and winging it. And being upfront of all the sunk costs, including construction so that if you stop, you stop and terminate with sound legal advice.

Like putting down the credit costs ahead of time and showing a risk analysis of stopping a project. Heck, they might have even made a rational case for doing it, instead of an emotional and legal shenanigan mumble-jumble.

Imagine, trying to lead, and not mislead voters. What a novel thought for Los Osos.

Mike Green said...

THE publicksworks pontificated:


Imagine, trying to lead, and not mislead voters. What a novel thought for Los Osos.


Word.

Anonymous said...

PublicWorks said:
> Jeez, Shark,
Finally some decent responses with IDEAS based on black and white, not vitriol.


Amen.
Followed by a good dose of vitriol. Oh well.

Shark and I had a nice blog conversation today. Thanks Inlet, you showed this newbie more patience and understanding than I was expecting. I enjoyed the chat. And I learned some new stuff. We might even have broken new ground in both civil process and posting and discussing real data.

> The lowering in cost for those in the PZ is tiny. I also doubt that folks will take too kindly to paying $380 when those up the hill pay only $100. The math works, the politics doesn't.

So we gotta try to get out of the politics and focus more on the math. Easier said than done for sure. Especially in Los Osos. Still, look where politics has gotten us. We could do no worse.

And we don't really know how tiny (or how large) the cost savings might be until we run some numbers do we? Just how much distributed costs can we share? How much growth is going to happen in the valley over the next 30 years? (I'm guessing all of us will SHOCKED by that projection. And I'm guessing whatever it is that shocks us will still be underestimated by a significan percentage!) And how much will new development pay to tie in to an existing sewer thereby removing one of their most significant obstacles. I can't even guesstimate these numbers but somebody can. And then we should use them in the spreadsheet to compare the options. Tri-W may yet be the site but we really don't know until an evaluation has been completed.

And your points about re-zoning and the cost of collection systems are well grounded. Although not insurmountable I think. Remember, everything doesn't have to be done immediately. It could be done incrementally over many years. We're talking 30+ years here. If the sewer is there people will use it. For new development it is easier and more cost effective to lay in collection infrastructure and tie in to an existing WWTF than design and build a new one. That isn't additional cost to the sewer. Over time the sewer only collects more money (and more crap). Most places tag new development with a plug in fee in addition to ongoing monthly payments. So there's yet more additional off-setting income. And don't forget the time-value of money here. Money invested in a needed and limited utility is generally a good investment. Anybody tieing into the sewer 5 or 10 years down the road is going to be paying in future dollars which will probably be more than a full share is today. Expect the principal to diminish rapidly on the back end. That makes for a far better payoff model than the PZ covering the full costs for 30 years.

As you note $70M of the cost of a new sewer is collection infrastructure just for the PZ and can't be distributed. But everything else is fair game including the sunk costs. That's just the cost of building a new system which most certainly can, and should, be distributed. It will still be cheaper for new development to buy in to an existing sewer. And don't forget, some millions of those sunk costs have been spent on the PZ collection system so that really isn't lost either.

Re-zoning, Ag share and water rights will need to be resolved. But don't cha think all of that is going to be resolved eventually anyway with impending growth? Let new development deal with that too. That isn't the responsibility of today's sewer. The sewer doesn't have to resolve 30+ years of future issues. It just needs to be there to collect money and crap.

PublicWorks said...

And included in the cost of Tri-W, was capacity for growth within the prohibition zone.

So there was a mechanism for growth.

Could those lots be 'bought' for mitigation for someone else to tie up to, and if developed later, they pay for future sewage fee increases? Perhaps, an in-town plant and an out-of-town pond. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

If Monarch doesn't tie in, then that leaves the option for Cabrillo to, and they can pay their share.

Designing a sewer for future growth outside the PZ brings up a whole 'nother can of worms - growth inducing impacts for one, which could impede building a sewer in the first place.

Ag exchange and water rights will be resolved, but can't be pre-ordained. You can't force farmers into contracts, you have to make it economically viable and it has to make sense for them.

Shark Inlet said...

Anonymous,

First off, Publicworks was not frustrated at you in the least. If anything, his frustration is quite reasonable. You would think that someone running for CSD or someone on the CSD or the finance or wastewater committees of the CSD would have spent an hour putting together a spreadsheet that outlined various possibilities before making any decisions about stopping construction or continuing to pursue STEP and out of town without any disposal and saltwater components.

On the issue of growth, the County has said that they intend to have several communities grow because the State has mandated the County grow, but Los Osos has not been one of them. First off, where would you put new homes? The only place any new homes (above and beyond the empty lots inside the PZ) could be put would be East of Clark Valley Road on what is now pure AG land. If the new residents are out there, they are definitely not inside the CSD boundary. Even if we wanted to exapand the CSD to include those areas, I am sure that people outside the CSD now would oppose the anexation because they are afraid of the current board and what future boards would do.

Even if we were able to accomplish that goal, I wonder whether it would be better to build a second WWTF out East to serve that additional growth (that I don't think we can count on just yet). Putting a smaller WWTF near to the development will save on costs and if the CSD is running both facilities, they can charge more to the newcomers than the actual costs and thus lower costs to those in the PZ. This would be somewhat like what many other communities do.

The difficulty with those sunk costs is that we currently owe that money and we will be unable to borrow money for sewer/WWTF construction unless we also take on the those debts at the same time. It is the PZ or the district as a whole who will need to pay that off. I suspect that a good argument could be made that the district as a whole should pay for the fines and costs associated with stopping construction.

Discussions like this are sobering but worthwhile. Unfortunately, I think that these sorts of discussions have already happened back in 2000 and we ended up goinng with TriW because of the study of various options then. It was because a few people didn't like the site and stalled us for a few years and put the CSD in a bind that we ended up with a very very expensive TriW which allowed these same stallers/delayers to run for the recall.

This is where I came in ... it would have been really good had those who are on the board to have thought these things through and perhaps done some calculations before they started tilting at windmills and making us pay the costs.

Churadogs said...

Another Anon said:

"I didn't mean to distract or detract from Ron Crawford's excellent Yin & Yang piece with an off-topic post. I think Ron add's some delightful and appropriate spice to the brew. When there's so much muck a little muck racking is in order. When citizens send such unconscionable tripe to a public offical with unimpeachable power, begging for admittedly extreme and over-harsh penalities for other citizens, then their names and actions should be called out!! My god, who do these people think they are? Do they really want to live and work in this community? To have a strong commitment to something is good. To desire other people to be hurt for your commitment and for your gain is simply sick. If this is where their path is taking them its way past time to get a grip. Me? I'm sick to my stomach that fellow citizens would do this. I'm gonna have to listen to weeks and weeks of the Thomas Jefferson Hour to get the sour out of my system.

Save the Nightmare just keeps getting worse ..... "

A new person posted a comment on the following post, I think, identified himself/herself as a CDOer and chided all who spend endless hours yakking away on this blogsite, endless hours running numbers and speculating on angels on heads of pins, and raised the question, Just what or have YOU ALL done or been doing to help The Los Osos 45? Have you spent your time volunteering at the dozens of SAFE meetings? Working with people with CDO's who are old or sick and simply don't understand what they need to do? Donated any money to the Prohibition Zone Defense Fund? Donated $ to help with xerox information flyers and then helped pass out informational flyers at tables or walked precintcs to get basic CDO info out to the community? In short, how are you helping your friends and neighbors NOW?

I've attended almost all the SAFE meetings and was amazed to find how FEW non-CDO people came to help. Since only a couple of people who post on this blog are self-identified, I have no way of knowing who any of the rest of you are, but ist it a good bet to assume that none of you have been at those meetings and that none of you are helping your 45 neighbors, neve evn if helping them would help yourselves?

The new Anon says he's sick to his stomach -- reading Ron's posts. Is he the only one?

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"Discussions like this are sobering but worthwhile. Unfortunately, I think that these sorts of discussions have already happened back in 2000 and we ended up goinng with TriW because of the study of various options then. It was because a few people didn't like the site and stalled us for a few years and put the CSD in a bind that we ended up with a very very expensive TriW which allowed these same stallers/delayers to run for the recall."

Inlet: thought you had read Ron Crawford's posting of all the many, many quotations from the various reports that ELIMINATED ALL SITES THAT DID NOT HAVE THE old STRONGLY HELD COMMUNITY VALUES-- ie. the centrally located PARK AMENITIES? In short, even way back in 2000 there were options but they were ELIMINATED for the number 1 reason given -- those "strongly held community values" i.e. centrally located public park, that Ron keeps bringing up and which kept appearing in all the various documents & etc.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann, just becuase you've taken up Ron's mantra of "strongly held community values" doesn't mean that the park dictated the location. In Ron's own blog he explains the weightings given in the site selection matrix which indicated COST was the most important factor.

Now, let's get back to the discussion at hand. Did you find any errors in the spreadsheet I posted? Did you try it out? Did you try putting your own guesstimated numbers into various slots? What were your conclusions?

PublicWorks said...

I opened the spreadsheet.

If construction inflation is high now, but goes down, then the out-of-town becomes more attractive. But inflation in construction is likely to be similar to inflation in energy, so the O&M savings are less as well.

The Tri-W bids were supposedly 'high', so the true cost of Tri-W in 2005 might have been 10-15% low ($120 million), which would be good if it were re-bid now, and any comparisons based on collection costs would be lower as well.

So the good news right now, that is if the project was overbid, is that the future options aren't as bad.

The bottom line is costs continue to accumulate, and not constructing (at wherever point in time) can have potentially huge impacts.

Even if the future costs are reduced, the overall costs don't drop significantly in the future because you keep accumulating sunk costs until you finish.

That is the dilemma of accepting a high bid, because the whole process of re-bidding can eat up the overbid. The dilemma of the low bid is the thought that the bidder is not qualified and you'll have to pay for it.

There is only one scenario that makes the cost really low. That would be a change in regulatory requirements or the discharge prohibition.

The question (which the old board faced) was do you lock in a project that is $200/month, (even if it might end up between $180- $250/month) or do you risk starting over on the hopes of all the planets aligning for a possible $150-$200 'better' project at the risk of the thing skyrocking to $300-400.

And it CAN hit $300-$400. There is this tendency to just stick your head in the sand and not believe it, and say it just ain't so.

Anonymous said...

Rediculous conversation between fools! Blabber! Dissolve the incompetent LOCSD. Let the county take over the project, use their credit rating for a new low interest loan, rebid any project wherever they can find land, or use the Tri-W site. Let them get government grants. Or go with Joey Racano's regional solution and use the reclaimed water for Los Osos. (Fat chance) Cost? The problem is water, clean water, and enough water.

Sewer the entire area. Better do something NOW ( Dissolution ). The law is on the State's side. Nobody wins fighting the law if they are guilty. You are guilty poluters! Look to the law! If you do not like it, move to an Arab country.

I understand that they crap in their own wells to make them unusable for anyone else and then fold their tents and move on.

Seems to me the same thing is happening in Los Osos.

Pretty soon you will not be able to use your own wells, saltwater intrusion lower, nitrate polution upper.

No money for the doomed 45? Nobody helping their neighbors? Perhaps nobody is so stupid as to give money to a impossible cause? You are poluters. Whine, whine, whine.

Assholes in your district have been fighting a sewer for years, when they could have one for very little money early on. And now assholes have stopped a sewer again. Stop talking about a sewer, and get rid of the assholes. The assholes will never want to pay anyway. Whine, whine, whine.

Mike Green said...

Ann,
"it a good bet to assume that none of you have been at those meetings and that none of you are helping your 45 neighbors, neve evn if helping them would help yourselves?"

Exactly.

I wish I had the time to do more.

Dogpatch Refugee said...

Inlet: "Lets get back to the subject at hand..." how arrogant typical, and obsessed. Time to start calling the signal jammers on the etiquette of off topic posting.
Ann's blog, Ann's thread. Stop the constant & deliberate misdirecting and distracting from the subject of the thread.
Or if your message is so constantly and urgently important, start your own damn blog. No? Then at least show some respect to the Ann Calhoun and HER choice subjects. Troll.
" When citizens send such unconscionable tripe to a public offical with unimpeachable power, begging for admittedly extreme and over-harsh penalities for other citizens, then their names and actions should be called out!! My god, who do these people think they are? Do they really want to live and work in this community? To have a strong commitment to something is good. To desire other people to be hurt for your commitment and for your gain is simply sick. If this is where their path is taking them its way past time to get a grip. Me? I'm sick to my stomach that fellow citizens would do this."

On topic & I wish I had wrote it. Thanks for saying it.

Ron said...

Shark said:

" In Ron's own blog he explains the weightings given in the site selection matrix which indicated COST was the most important factor."

That is incorrect. I never said that.

In reality, tens on millions of dollars had to be added to the project to accommodate a mid-town sewer plant location. Out of town sites were much, much cheaper for a number of reasons.

The park dictated the Tri-Dub location for the early CSD's second project. No park - no Tri-Dub. It's that simple. The Coastal Commission would have never allowed it there without that "strongly held community value."

So... can anyone point to a document that shows that "value?" The answer is no.

Los Osos, you got screwed.

Shark Inlet said...

Ron,

You may be right. I should say that it was when I was reading sewerwatch (and the documents linked from sewerwatch) that I read about the site selection matrix with the heavy weightings given to cost.

Whether you say "No park - no Tri-Dub. It's that simple." or not, you've never shown this to be the case. You may have convinced yourself, but the CCC has already reject versions of this argument put forward by CCLO. Maybe if you had a document showing Stan or Gordon said "without the park we would never have gone with TriW" it would be proof, but otherwise it is just your (reasonable) speculation. And we all know how Ann feels about speculation...

Essentially it all comes down to this ... there is another reasonable explanation for the TriW site selection ... cost. The board believed that TriW was likely less expensive than other sites.

You claim that out of town sites are much much cheaper but again you've never shown this to be the case.

I think you are confusing fact and opinion here...

Your last comment I must agree with, however. I suspect you don't recognize the irony however. It is essentially Julie and Lisa who have screwed this town. They've been very effective advocates for positions that have essentially raised our bills time and time again. They're still at it.

What I would like to see one day is good cost estimate for the TriW project before all the delays from Al/CASE and Julie/CCLO versus the ultimate cost of the plant that Julie says she wants us to have. That will be a real measure of the screwage.

Anonymous said...

Shark, will a cost estimate without delay from Taxpayers Watch and dissolutionists for another site acceptable?
I'm tired of getting Tri W shoved down our throat. The water board, which I understand is not suppose to determine the type and location of sewer plant, is doing just that.
As a 35 year resident and 31 year property owner, i'm also tired of being blamed for this mess that were in.
My order of blame is:
The County.
The water board.
The Solutions Group.
The original and former CSD board.

PublicWorks said...

What does TW have to do with a delay for another site??

They sued about Measure B, which was ruled illegal.

They sued about the appropriateness of legal settlements.

Not one of those actions precludes evaluating any other site, or should delay consideration of any site. Actually, having Measure B out of the way should SPEED the process, not delay it, so why aren't you happy about that.

They advocate having the County do the project.

There is no timeline for any agency to complete any project, so no one really knows how fast any agency can get a project done.

You are a 35 year resident, and you accept no responsibility, or did you just leave yourself off at the end of the list??

You got to buy cheap 31 years ago, because the County didn't have the appropriate infrastructure in place, and you had a low fee passed on to you when you bought. Buyer beware.

So Los Osos.

Shark Inlet said...

If you can tell me how many years TW has delayed a solution, we could factor that in. So far they don't seem to have delayed anything. If the current board starts to move forward with an out of town project that TW stalls with lawsuits it would seem appropriate then to figure out those costs.

Lemmie ask you something because you've been here longer than I ... what did you do years ago when the County came up with a solution then another? Were you in favor of the WWTF that would have been nearly entirely paid for by federal grants, not loans? If not, why not?

Along those lines, can you give us a sense of why Los Osos refused that free money to clean up their groundwater that they knew was being polluted?

PublicWorks said...

Anon,

Knowing that you were contributing to pollution back in 1983, did you start putting away the $30-$50 /month that a wastewater treatment plant would have cost you?

If you had, you'd now have about $15,000 to $30,000 you could use to pay towards your share of a treatment plant.

Because you probably bought for less than $75,000 then (due to the County allowing cheap housing with no infrastructure), you have likely enjoyed equity increases possibly over $500,000.

Maybe you should thank the County for issuing permits so that you could buy an inexpensive home.

Anonymous said...

I guess I touched a nerve.
I bought my house with an approved waste system. As did everybody else.
Now, suddenly we are told to abandon that and build and pay for an entirely different system. Apparently, no matter the cost.
I say we, actually not all of us.
I certainly don't remember when this would have mostly been paid for by grants. I question that now, why aren't there more grants for us?
The first remembrance I have is that this was going to cost us 77 million and paid for entirely by ourselves. As I remember, the first in the nation.
I paid pretty much the same for my house as I would have paid anywhere else in the county back then. The equity in my house means nothing unless I sell it. Then what am I going to do? Move to Oregon?
Do septic tanks work or not?

PublicWorks said...

Not a nerve, anon,

but the blame on the County is a common refrain and one-sided, IMO.

Move to Oregon?, they don't like Californians.

Would you be willing to let a public/private entity put a lien on your house against your equity that would only have to be paid (with interest) upon transfer of title, if they fronted you the capital costs?

Is that an acceptible solution to you? The town needs to start getting creative.

Septic tanks work if there is enough land and depth to dillute the pollution.

Ron said...

Shark said:

"Whether you say "No park - no Tri-Dub. It's that simple." or not, you've never shown this to be the case."

Yes I did, many, many, many, many times, using official documents, and, oh yea, Steve Monowitz of the Coastal Commission also told me that's the case, when I talked to him, live... on the phone. He said it in English, and I heard the words come out of his mouth, and my phone and his phone were both working properly at the time, and then I reported it... many, many, many times. But that's all I have, Shark, about dozen quotes from official documents that show "No park - No Tri-Dub," and a senior Coastal Commission staff member that told me that was the case.

You just didn't comprehend it. That's not my fault.

You claim that out of town sites are much much cheaper but again you've never shown this to be the case.

Yes I did, many, many, many times, using official documents.

Shark, can you comprehend this?:

Out of town sites: $100,000 - $1,400,000

Tri-W property credit: $3,000,000 - $3,500,000

That's from that "Tri-W/hypothetical Andre" document that the 2004 CSD produced that you said you read, and now you're saying, "you've never shown this to be the case."

Me: Water is wet.

Shark: Ron says water is dry.

Me: Shark, I put my hand in water and it became wet.

Shark: You've never shown that to be the case.

Shark, Karl Rove would love the way you go about your business.

Me? I find it more than a little weird that someone would fight so hard (you out-word me and Ann, combined) to keep a sewer plant in the middle of their beautiful coastal town, because they might, might save a few bucks.

That's a little odd.

Shark Inlet said...

Ron,

Let's just say that reasonable people disagree. You claim your official documents prove that the park dictated the site. I read the docs you referenced and disagree. In fact, you seem to be the only one convinced by your argument becuase if it held water, I am sure that CCLO would have taken it up already (or will do immediately if it was really an oversight ... if you are really that much better a legal eagle than the CCLO lawyers). If you feel that strongly, you should put your money where your mouth is and hire a lawyer to make your case before the CCC. Rather than just putting your permit revocation request on the web, make it real. The fact that you've not done this and that no one on your side has done this makes me really wonder whether even you believe your argument is solid.

Nope, you have a theory but you've not proved your point. In the past I've tried to point out to you some of the holes in your argument but you just keep coming back by saying that my opinion doesn't stand up to your fact. Maybe until you are willing to make your request formal with the CCC, let's just stay that reasonable people can disagree.

If you're going to bring up the argument that we'll save money by putting the plant out of town again, please remember that you've never included any inflation in your analyses. Even if "out of town" were some $30M less expensive, I've shown that with inflation and with borrowing at a 7% interest rate, TriW (now, even with the higher interest rate) is far far less expensive to us on a monthly basis. Your cheaper isn't.

Perhaps if you were to actually look at the spreadsheet I put online for you, you would be able to follow what I am saying. You claim that I have reading comprehension problems ... to me it seems like you have math anxiety and are simply unwilling to do the calculations. That is why I gave you the spreadsheet. Work with it. If you don't understand it, take it by an accountant. If you aren't willing to at least put in the small amount of effort it takes to understand my position, you are clearly not really interested in this topic, interested in the welfare of Los Osos or intersested in the truth. I've read your arguments and explained why I disagree. How about returning the favor?