The Tribune, Years Late and Millions Short, Again
Oh, Lordy, it’s coffee out the nose time with the Halloween mini-P.S. editorial, “Tacker, embrace the vote or resign,” wherein the editor chastises CSD Board member Julie Tacker for stating, after the 218 vote, “We know how to derail a project and we will derail it again.” Then demands that she “ . . . needs to get on board – or step down.”
The min-editorial goes on to say “She may have been focusing her comments on the midtown Tri-W site, but it was a threat nonetheless. County staff has already found inadequacies with the TriW site, but state environmental laws require that they evaluate every potential location for a sewage treatment plant.” (Actually, that may not be exactly true. One of the so-called “Andre” sites was declared by the county to be off the table because of the ”fatal flaw” of having power transmission lines on it, so it wasn’t included in the TAC evaluation. There were other “hopeless” sites that were also removed prior to the TAC. Tri W could have been declared “fatally flawed” by the county (lapsed CC permit, laws that have changed thereby making it hopeless, etc.) but, if memory serves, they feared a lawsuit if they did that. Strange, they apparently didn’t fear a lawsuit over removing the “Andre” site, but no matter.)
Uh, so Tri-W has “already” been found to be inadequate by the county, Tacker has been a clear opponent of Tri W for YEARS, and clearly stated in her Viewpoint that ran a couple of days before, “What I was referring to was the Tri-W property, its sale and that project. I remain committed to stand in the way of that project.” Nothing new there. So why was the Tribune “appalled” at her remarks and now demand she “get on board” or resign?
If the Tribune is just now figuring out that the Tri-W has “inadequacies,” then I’d say they’re years late and gazillions short, again. If they weren’t able to figure out Tacker’s comments specifically referred to Tri W, then I’d say they don’t bother to read the Viewpoints they print. And if they are now supporting a 5-0 rubber stamp board, then they should have written editorials decrying Joe Sparks’ election since he often fails to vote with the majority.
Sorry, Tribune. Tacker & Schicker’s “No on 218” vote is what our democratically elected Boards (and congresses and assemblies) are all about. Weirdly, given the fact that a certain percentage of people also voted No on 218, then the Board vote likely perfectly reflects the overall community vote percentages. That’s called representative democracy.
As for me, I don’t want 5-0 rubber stamp boards. If Joe Sparks votes No on something and the rest of the CSD Board votes Yes, I say, Hooray for Joe! Not, He needs to get on board – or step down. Feh. It’s the Tribune that needs to get on board by turning into a real newspaper.
For a start, I’d suggest they go read Ron Crawford’s blog and follow all those nice breadcrumbs he’s laid down then ‘splain to the community why it was that they missed all those “inadequacies with the Tri-W site.” Or read the email exchanges below and connect the dots. Those Tri-W “inadequacies” have been there for YEARS. Tacker and Schicker and Crawford knew about them. Why didn’t the Tribune?
And Now, A Word From Ron Crawford @ Sewerwatch, The County and Ron Again . . . then The County and . . .
The following email exchanges between 11/31/07 and 11/1/07 came from Noel King, and Ron Crawford. The exchanges are a bit long but for Sewerites, very interesting, so be sure to read on to the end. Maybe someone from the Tribune will read it and start asking long overdue questions as well? Nahhhh, that’ll never happen. Printed with permission:
Last November, in an e-mail to me, you wrote:- - -"Although many in the community obviously oppose the site (Tri-W), many others still support it."- - -Do you still feel that way -- that "many others sill support" the Tri-Wsite? If so, what are you basing that on? Is there some sort of documentation that shows that, or perhaps public comment? What?
Thank you in advance for your prompt response,
Noel King Replied:
I'm responding to your email because Paavo is out of the office this week.It is irrelevant at this time what Paavo or any other County Government officials think about who does or does not support the Tri-W site (or other issues such as a gravity or step collection system, or the other possible treatment sites). While some people in the community are stewing over such specific project issues, we are simply following the defined, objective project process that our Board has directed.
As you know if you have read those process documents, among other things this includes additional technical research--leading to formal technical memos, peer review by experienced and independent industry professionals; a full coequal CEQA analysis of the alternatives; and learning more about what State and Federal grant and loan programs can provide, and under what terms.
Then, of course, we plan to scientifically survey the community to learntheir preferences once all of the above relevant information is determinedand made available to them. That is the point at which it will matter whatwe think others think about specific aspects of the project, and willcertainly reflect on that in determining our final project recommendationto the Board of Supervisors. Speculating at this point is not only not constructive and contrary to our directed process, but it also could becounter-productive. I know that you wouldn't want that.
Thanks for your question and continued interest in the project.
Ron Followed up With:
Thank you for the prompt reply. I really do appreciate it.
However, I'm not too sure that the "community support for Tri-W" question is "irrelevant."
You wrote:"... peer review by experienced and independent industry professionals..."
Hasn't that already happened?
The NWRI Peer Review, that included Dr. Tchobanoglous, of the Ripley Report reads:"Given the number of problematic issues with the downtown site, it is the unanimous opinion of the Panel that an out-of-town site(s) is a better alternative. "
So, if a "peer review by experienced and independent industry professionals" has already concluded, "It is the unanimous opinion of the Panel that an out-of-town site(s) is a better alternative," and the county has already made an official finding that there are non-ESHA sites available, which makes the ESHA Tri-W site in violation of the CZLUO -- and therefore could be "eliminated from further consideration," just like county officials did with the Andre1 site, and STILL meet CEQA requirements -- then it seems that the only reason left to continue to spend time and money evaluating the Tri-W site would be some sort of massive community support for it, so where is it?
When Tri-W's CDP was up for expiration, not one person, out of many, spoke in favor of the site.
So, naturally, I'm very confused.
If independent industry professionals, like Dr. Tchobanoglous, have already said, "Given the number of problematic issues with the downtown site, it is the unanimous opinion of the Panel that an out-of-town site(s) is a better alternative," and to construct a public facility at the Tri-W site is in violation of the CZLUO, AND there's absolutely no community support for the project, then why keep spending time and money evaluating it? It doesn't make any sense.
The county evaluated it, as per CEQA, and it's not going to work.
It sounds like a complete waste of time and money to continue evaluating it.
Does CEQA really require that ALL potential sites MUST be evaluated throughout the ENTIRE process, even if one of those sites is illegal, unpopular, and loaded with "problematic issues," according to independent industry professionals. If so, shouldn't you then put the Andre1 site BACK into consideration? It sounds like you're not following the "the defined, objective project process that our Board has directed" by eliminating the Andre1 site.
It seems like one or the other needs to happen -- either put Andre1 BACK into consideration, or eliminate Tri-W from consideration -- after all, Tri-W is loaded with "problematic issues," it's in clear violation of the CZLUO, and it has zero community support, unless you can show me a document that states otherwise, and I already know that document does not exist.
I asked you this before, and I never got an answer: Can you give me the specific code in CEQA that says something like: "ALL potential sewer plant sites must be evaluated through the entire development process, even if they are illegal."
Because, if that's REALLY the case, then shouldn't you also be evaluating the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve as a potential sewer site? It's illegal to build a sewer plant there, too, just like Tri-W, but that doesn't seem to matter. According to the county, CEQA requires that ALL potential sites be evaluated, and, although I'm not an engineer, I'm pretty sure that if you cut down enough trees, and poured enough concrete, the county could force a project into the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. So, why isn't it being evaluated as per CEQA?
Sorry I'm so confused, but I just don't see why all this time and money needs to be spent evaluating a sewer plant site that is illegal, and independent industry professionals, like Dr. T, hate it as much as the community.
It doesn't make any sense.
CEQA REALLY says that -- that ALL potential sites must be evaluated for a sewer plant through the ENTIRE process, even if some of them are illegal? What's the section? I need to know, because, to be frank, if it REALLY does say that, then that's one of the worst laws I've ever heard, and I want to report on it.
And Ron also Added,
I just wanted to quickly add a few thoughts to my e-mail . . . [above]
You wrote that, currently, it is "irrelevant" what the county thinks of the community support for the Tri-W project.
You also wrote that the Tri-W project will undergo "additional technical research."
Noel, THAT -- the "additional technical research" on the Tri-W project --is irrelevant. Continuing to evaluate a site that is infeasible makes thatevaluation irrelevant, and wasteful.
It kind of reminds me of.... no, not "kind of"... it exactly reminds me ofwhat the early CSD did with the Andre1 site, when they spent all that timeand money studying it and THEN said, "Whoa! Where did all of these gigantic towers loaded with high-voltage power lines come from? Oh well, looks like we can't build here after all. Tri-W it is... and that's a very convenient thing for us, because that's the exact site where we told the community we were going to build the "better, cheaper, faster" plan that got us elected and the CSD formed in the first place, but then failed two years later, and if we build our second sewer plant at Tri-W, no one will know that our over-the-top-hyped first plan failed."
You don't want that to happen to the county, do you?
You guys don't want to have to say something like this:"
Yea, well, we did spend a heck of a lot of time and money evaluating theESHA Tri-W site, and THEN we discovered that it is illegal to build a sewerplant there because there are several other feasible non-ESHA sites, that are downwind and out of town, and 23.08.288d of the CZLUO says: "... public facilities within ESHA only where there is no other feasible location."... do you?
To Which Noel Concluded (for now?)
Being the skilled journalist that you are, you havesucked me into a little further discussion on this issue even though Idon't really have the time for it.
You emailed Paavo Ogren yesterday with questions regarding what wecurrently think about how many people we believe still support the Tri-Wtreatment site and why we believe they feel that way. I responded onPaavo's behalf that it is irrelevant at this time what we think about whatothers may feel about the Tri-W site (or the other key technical issuesinvolving the project).
I went on to explain that we are involved in a comprehensive Board directed process that will include , among other things, a full environmental review, further funding research, additional technicalresearch with technical memos being developed on certain issues, furtherpeer review and finally, when this additional relevant information is made available to the community, a formal community opinion survey. The opinions of the Los Osos citizens reflected in that survey, based on more complete data, will be of importance to us at that time.
You responded back to me today with the following concerns: (a) the NWRI peer review team already deemed the Tri-W site to be an inferior alternative, so we should exclude it now, and (b) that we would be wasting time and money by further evaluating the Tri-W site.
Your first point kind of disappoints me, as I would expect a little better from you. I know that you are aware that the previous NWRI peer review was of a concept paper done by the Ripley team. The paper had no where near the level of information that is now available, and it will not include the content of the information gained in a CEQA analysis. I am not, by any means, suggesting that something further will come up that would shed a more favorable light on the Tri-W site. I am just saying that we will have Dr. T's group review many things as part of our remaining project development process, including our draft technical memos. I would not expect much additional time, at all, to be spent by them on issuesdirectly related to the Tri-W issue.
Regarding the second point, the apparent wasting of further time and money on the Tri-W site, as I just noted, I would expect any future staff or peer review work to have relatively little direct involvement with the pros and cons of the Tri-W site, so the incremental cost associated with that possible plant location is not expected to be material.
I don't believe that it would be wise to deviate from our documented project development process for a couple of reasons. First, as staff we follow the direction given by our Board. Additionally, the history of the Los Osos sewer issue includes many instances where people in positions of influence have made specific isolated decisions about a potential project that they believed was the best way to go, instead of allowing for a complete analysis and public review to occur. In fact, you have focused on this as a theme in many of your blog memos that I have read.
I believe that by not trying to make isolated judgments on certain aspects of this project before "going the distance" with our documented approach,we will honor the process that we have presented to the public and will keep the trust that the recent protest election seems to indicate that we have earned.
Prior to the recent election, you expressed concern that we would be triggering many "No" votes and jeopardizing the passage by not officially taking the Tri-W site off the table before the election was held. It seems that the property owners were able to connect the dots in their minds, based on our approach, as to how the Tri-W issue may end up when we have completed our work.
End: For Now