PZLDF Attorney Dismisses Sorta Kinda (Where’s Roger?) ! Party Time! Paavo Speaks! Gotta Lobby! And Hats Off!
First, from a press release from the PZLDF:
PROHIBITION ZONE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND DISMISSES LAWSUIT, BUT BRIGGS AVAILABILITY FOR QUESTIONS WILL REMAIN OPEN TO CHALLENGE.
As a cost saving measure PZLDF has decided to dismiss, without prejudice, their Petition for Writ of Mandamus which was amended and filed on November 28, 2006.
The basis for the petition, filed by Alan Martyn, William Moylan, Beverly Dewitt-Moylan, Antoinette Payne, Bruce Payne, Rhian Gulassa, and Timothy L. Rochte, sought to have hearings continued until Regional Water Board Executive, Roger Briggs, could appear for a questioning.
Roger Briggs left on October 6, 2006 for a six month sabbatical, and although subpoenaed in advance did not appear for their deposition. Water Board chairman, Jeffery Young quashed the subpoena October 18. Although the request was first made to Regional Water Board staff in August, the lack of Mr. Briggs testimony and prosecution team documents made proper preparation for hearings impossible.
The Regional Water Board recognized Roger Briggs would be unavailable for either disposition or appearance at the quasi-trials if hearings did not proceed as promised after the April 28 hearing, but for reasons unexplained, Jeffery Young continued and then delayed the hearings for over 9 months, until after Briggs’ departure.
The lawsuit asked the court to vacate all orders requiring the hearings until after the completion of the deposition of Roger Briggs or to set aside the decision that quashed the subpoena and to produce Roger Briggs. Additionally defendants were not properly noticed and served chairman’s orders throughout the year long proceedings. The court found it was premature to challenge the enforcement or stay the hearings until after the issuance of the Cease and Desist Orders.
PZLDF had originally planned to amend the Petition after issuance of the Cease and Desist Orders but based on new delays by the Regional Water Board to complete the balance of the hearings until at least May, it is probably more cost-effective to dismiss the current petition and re-file it later, according to a spokesman for PZLDF. (There are at lease 7 property owners to be heard.)
PZLDF request for dismissal will be filed immediately to avoid possible dismissal or prejudice to their legal challenges. On January 16, 2006: 14 of the 45 residents and property owners in Los Osos targeted for enforcement filed a petition for the State Water Resources Control Board to review the actions of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control (RWQCB).
The appeal is brought on behalf of all individual property owners and residents of Los Osos who have been or will be subject to the issuance of individual Cease and Desist Orders, or who oppose the “lottery style” enforcement actions taken by the water board and issuance of CDO’s that could result in loss of property.
Representation for the legal actions including the appeal is by Sullivan and Associates. Petitioners include designated parties who were issued Cease and Desist Orders at the December 14 and 15 hearings before the RWQCB.
Mark your calendars. Time for a benefit for The Los Osos 45, you know, your friends and neighbors who have spent a whole year being hammered by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and who are now appealing their CDO case to both the State Water Board and, if necessary, into a “real court,” in hopes that the rest of the community doesn’t have to go through what they’ve been put through. (See above for some of what they’re been going through – including the fact that the State Water Board can sit on their appeal for nearly a year, thereby tying them up in “administrative” limbo while preventing them from even going to a “real court” to get anything close to “justice.”)
It’s a BBQ, with Music, and prizes on Sunday, March 18, noon to 6pm. at the South Bay Community Center, 2180 Palisades. Cost is $10. For more information call 528-8408 or go to www.PZLDF.org See you there.
Speaking of Seeing You There, Where Were You?
Citizens for Clean Water-PZLDF had a meeting last night at the Washington Mutual meeting room; guest speakers Paavo Ogren and two of the project engineers on the wastewater project. So, show of hands: How many of you folks who regularly log onto this blogsite to whine and kvetch and lie and make stuff up and ask ME questions bothered to show up and whine and kvetch and ask PAAVO questions? C’mon, how many of you were there?
I thought as much.
Had you attended the meeting you may have heard Paavo’s comments and replies to many questions. Some of the more interesting comments:
For those of you who keep stating that the community could have had a sewer years ago paid for by the federal government, Paavo would beg to differ for the following reasons: Resolution 83-13 wasn’t passed until 1983. That meant that there was no regulatory perception of a “problem” and by ’83 the county was working on a sewer but by about ’85 President Reagan had de-funded federal funding for such projects (it was the “Reagan Revolution” of cutting government programs -- to Reagan,” the government didn’t solve problems, the government WAS the problem -- so by the time the County had a project ready, there were no federal monies available to pay for the project, which meant the cost was “unaffordable” even in ’85.
Since Paavo was the first interim General Manager for the original CSD, he had a unique seat at the table, so to speak and some of his comments as to what went wrong here should be made mandatory listening and it had to do with what he called ‘Institutional Effectiveness,” that is, Does the institution (i.e. a CSD, any CSD) responsible for dealing with a project, have the resources to actually solve the problem?
In the case of our CSD the answer clearly was: No. When the original Ponds of Avalon failed to materialize, (and Ron Crawford has documented that the Solutions Group knew before the CSD formation that they wouldn’t be approved) the CSD simply lacked the resources needed to do a serious alternatives analysis. What happened instead was what I call the Tar Baby Syndrome: by sticking tightly to the [Tri-W] site they were forced to do A which led to B which led to C and so forth until the tracks they laid bit by bit headed off the cliff. (A tidbit: According to Paavo, as of now, MBR technology is off the table. It was mandated by sticking to the Tri-W site because it allows the treatment plant to fit into a very small footprint, but it’s expensive and an energy sucker and if that tiny footprint is no longer required, the technology is too wasteful to be considered. It’s an excellent example of the Tar Baby Syndrome.)
Paavo’s comments about “Institutional Effectiveness” is also an excellent reminder that it’s highly likely that this entire project was doomed from day one and its fate totally sealed by Regulatory pressure (FINES!FINES!FINES! Unreasonable TSOs, more FINES!FINES!FINES), bad information or lack of information (remember the tape of an early discharge site selection meeting of the original CSD wherein it was pointed out and acknowledged that the CSD didn’t have enough information to make a proper decision yet one had to be made that night or else face FINES!FINES!FINES – the worst kind of decision making process possible). Add on some key failures by the oversight bodies (Coastal Commission and BOS and County Planning) and you have the perfect mix for a perfect train wreck.
More comments: To Paavo, the RWQCB’s CDO date of 2011 is “unreasonable.” Apparently, most everybody except the RWQCB and their Grand Inquisitor understands that a project cannot be completed by 2011, the “drop dead” date they insisted be kept in the CDO and “Settlement Agreements.’ Paavo also expressed a hope that the RWQCB would follow the wording of AB2701, the point of which was that all parties “stand down,” something everybody except the RWQCB understood and neither did Governor Schwarzenegger, whose signing statement appended to AB2701 may also bollix up things.
Plus, interestingly, Paavo raised the fact that the RWQCB is faced with an interesting problem: The cost of complying with their regulations BLOWS OUT ALL AFFORDABILITY GUIDELINES, federal, state, all of ‘em. KaBoom! Out of the water. Which raises this issue: Does regulatory compliance legally require a community be destroyed in order to “save” it?
In a demographic chart passed out at the meeting, (based on the general census, not the PZ itself, which means the chart is skewed “richer” than the PZ reality) about 43% of the community are 55-75 with Median Houshold Incomes in the $35,00 range, which means that for them, even the $205-a-month Tri W sewer estimate would have gone beyond all Federal “affordability” ranges. Which gets back to: Does regulatory compliance require a community destroy 43% of its residents in order to “save” itself?
And finally another important comment by Paavo: Regulators can hurt or help AB 2701, that is, actions taken by the RWQCB could end up bollixing up AB2701 and making completion of the project harder, something apparently everyone except the RWQCB understands. Sigh.
Maria Kelly and Lynette Tornatzky will be hosting county representatives Thursday night March 1, for more questions on the 218 vote at the little schoolhouse at 6 pm. before the CSD meeting (wherein maybe we will learn that the 2.5 million that was held by the judge has now been released to the CSD without a peep from the papers and apparently no battle from the County which argued that that money should come to them as part of the wastewater funds so maybe Thursday night we’ll get some more info or a WWF Smackdown fight over the dough?) So, to all the folks who spend endless hours on this blog, at least go to Kelly’s meeting and ask Paavo your questions.
Hats off to Cal Poly Student Intern, Katherine Hamby.
If you got your swell February Brochure #2 on Proposition 218, there’s a note in there that informs us that the Los Osos Project Brochures are being designed and prepared by Cal Poly Senior, Kathy Hanby. Another great example of Cal Poly’s “hands-on” policy of education – students getting a chance to put their education to work in the real world with actual real-world projects. It’s a real win-win: the student gets invaluable experience, we (the “client”) get a brochure that cost less than 70 cents to produce.
Lobby, Gotta Lobby
At last night’s meeting, I posed a question that I intend to keep asking (it’s called Lobbying and I’m going to be doing it until I see a firm date set) and here it is: Will the county set up a workshop and invite the so-called Peer Review Group (i.e. National Water Research Institute) to come and “peer review” the Process and whatever systems float up to the top for final consideration and issue a report?
The answer was Yes. Dr. George Tchobanoglous had expressed an interest in returning for just such a look-see as well as Valerie Young, AICP, Environmental Planner and Water Reuse Specialist.
This is good. None of the folks at the Water Research Institute have a dog in this fight. Dr. T wrote the textbooks that all of the engineers building this project were taught from while in engineering school, so nobody can say he’s some doofus with a spoon. In short, we can have the benefit of the top experts in the world vetting whatever project is in the running so that the community can have confidence that there were no non-engineering thumbs on the scale (i.e. “political stuff” that has nothing to do with engineering and best practices). My hope is that such a vetting and report will go a long way in bringing the community together that whatever project they finally pick will, indeed, pass muster.