Paavo Ogren, the county’s deputy public works director, has a Viewpoint in Monday, June 18th Tribune, responding to Baywood Park Resident Doug Morin’s June 15th letter to the editor.
Doug’s original letter was another example of the difficulty of “getting the story right,” so he “gets the the story wrong,” and thereby muddles apples, oranges and grunion together and calls it fruit salad. It’s one of the reasons so many people outside Los Osos think we’re all “crazies,” living in Dogpatch and swilling urine with our morning lattes.
Here’s Doug’s letter. ( Paavo’s Viewpoint ishould be on the Tribune’s website at www.sanluisobispo.com):
County Let This Happen (Headings are written by Tribune staff, not the letter writer.)
I look forward to the banner being unfurled along Los Osos Valley Road: “Clark Valley Welcomes the Los Osos Sewer.” Judging from the reception they gave the proposed animal shelter a few years ago, I’m sure it will be a heart-warming experience.
Of course, property owners in the prohibition zone would still opt for Tri-W. It’s cheaper. But who cares what we think. In more than thirty years, we’ve been given an exclusive say only once, and we voted 87 percent for a gravity system at Tri-W.
That the 13th percent minority could then join forces with renters, along with voters outside the prohibition zone, and overrule our vote, well that’s the problem.
And who is responsible for setting up this Catch-22 system? The county.
Sure, the Julie Tacker brigade bears primary blame for driving the cost from less than $100 per month at the start of their lawsuits, to the $200 per month when they violated the contracts, to the estimate $300 to $4500 per month now. But the county allowed this to happen.
And are they fixing the problem? No, they’d rather knowtow to the crazies and waste even more money studying sites that will never fly.
Sigh. You see all the problems? Where does one begin?
Is the 87 percent vote Mr Morin speaks of the overwhelming vote to form the assessment district with a promise of a $38 a month Ponds of Avalon treatment plant at the Tri W site? Or the original modest assessment ballots sent to homeowners to pay for a start-up for design and land purchase only, 40% of said ballots which were never returned. Eighty-seven percent sounds really great, but not so great when 40% go missing in the first place.
Then Mr. Morin says that “property owners in the prohibition zone would still opt for Tri-W. It’s cheaper.” They would? It is? How does anyone know? During the recall and Measure B election, again, about 40% of the registered voters were a no-show. Hard to know what the majority of a community think or want when a huge chunk of them never show up to the party in the first place.
Then there’s this, “Sure, the Julie Tacker brigade bears primary blame for driving the cost from less than $100 per month at the start of their lawsuits, to the $200 per month when they violated the contracts, to the estimated $300 to $400 per month now. But the county allowed this to happen.”
Huh? The only time a sewer project even came close to pretending to be $100 a month was way back before the CSD formation when the County did have the project and their guestimates were for about that amount. When Tri W went to bid, we were told that the $200–plus a-month amount was due to rise in materials cost (remember the long discussions about how China was buying up all the cement in the world and so the costs were escalating because Tri-W required a lot of cement? And etc.) The county didn’t allow that price rise in cement to happen. The county had no say in the matter. (Indeed, in comments made by Mr. Ogren at a PZLDF meeting, it was clear he felt that the high bid increases were also the result of contractors knowing they had a naive CSD (the pre-recall CSD) snookered and over a barrel. Paavo implied that that would never happen to the County, since they were bigger, more savvy and simply wouldn’t be conned. I tend to agree with that observation. See below regarding the breach of contract lawsuit now in limbo. What really happened on those bids is also locked up in that case.)
As for the county allowing this to happen, indeed, they did, way back when. The county allowed overbuilding in the face of a growing water and nitrate pollution crisis, and even after Resolution 83-12 & 13, both they and the RWQCB permitted even more homes to be built, in weird and unexplained violation of the RWQCB’s own resolutions. The history of this whole mess does not even begin to pass the smell test.
And as for “violated the contracts,” that case is frozen so nobody knows at this point who “violated” (breached) what. (Personally, that’s the one key case to so many other things. I can only hope that that case finds a way to go forward since a whole lot of interesting beans will be spilling out of that can. Beans Los Ososians deserve to see in order to begin to “get the story right.”)
And, finally, a comment I read often in other letters to the editor: “Are they fixing the problem? No, they’d rather knowtow to the crazies and waste even more money studying sites that will never fly.”
Uh, actually, Mr. Morin, all the sites being studied now survived the rough screening process so, at this point, are all capable of flying – until further notice. And the County and the volunteer TAC, far from not “fixing the problem,” have been extraordinarily busy . . . fixing the problem.
As for Mr. Morin’s reference to knowtowing to the crazies, here’s Mr. Ogren’s partial Viewpoint reply: “First, we are not sure who Mr. Morin is referring to in his general reference to the “crazies” of Los Osos. The characterization that members of his community are “crazy” is inappropriate and disrespectful of the challenges associated with the enormously difficult wastewater project and its impacts.”
Los Osos Crazies! County doing nothing! Tri-W Cheaper! 87% Voted! County to Blame!
It’s a mantra that’s all too common, a mantra that keeps getting the story wrong. And therein lurks the ongoing danger: Stories are, in many ways, like road maps. They tell us where we’ve been and can point out where we think we want to go. Get the story wrong and you get the map wrong. Get the map wrong and you can find the path you’re building is heading for a cliff. Again.