Smile! You’re On Arial Camera (Oooo, nooo, a typo! It's Aerial, Duh, thanks, alert reader)
Didja get your nifty letter and photo of your property, taken from a Look! Look! Up In The Sky! camera, complete with (if known) a yellow dot where your septic is located and a little sticky marker you can peel off and place in your front yard as where you’d like your nice new septic tank, if the County decides to go ahead with a STEP system.
Plus a little Circle One survey that ranges from, Yes I like Step to EEEUUUU We’re All Gonna Die!
The letter notes “Initial cost estimates indicate that a STEP system may be a cost effective option for the community. . . . Specifically, estimators need to know where individual property owners would want their STEP tanks installed if this collection system option is selected. . . . The County’s project analysis has established that the STEP alternative is cost competitive and is potentially viable for Los Osos.”
Very interesting. The County states that, when the EIR is released, it “will be closely followed by a community advisory survey. The advisory survey will ask all community members their opinions on project options for technologies, enhancements, and locations. The advisotry survey will be sent to residents, property owners, and business owners, both inside and outside the Prohibiton Zone.”
But THIS document asks, Do the homeowners in the PZ support a STEP system right off the bat BEFORE they have any cost analysis comparisons to go along with it?
Does that then skew any subsequent survey results? Or skew any further work done on the various projects? For example, suppose a majority of forms are returned saying, Yes, I support STEP. Clearly, since STEP is “cost competitive and is potentially viable for Los Osos,” that system will move to the head of the line. (Why not? Cheaper and with community acceptance? Win-Win.)
BUT, suppose the majority of forms are returned saying, NO I don’t support STEP, will that move a STEP system to the back of the line? And then, when the final reports come out with the price tags for the various systems, will the community look at STEP and say, Woa, wait a minute, it costs how much less?? Wait, let me rethink this. Uh, Yes, think I’ll change my vote for STEP, since I didn’t know the price the first time, and now that you show me the price savings, I’ll vote, Yes I support STEP.
And so forth.
In the meantime, since there were no cost comparisons (STEP vs. gravity vs cluster systems, etc.) along with these photos, sticky notes and forms, homeowners returning the forms and “voting” are doing so blind. Which will make the results both interesting and questionable. But in addition, the forms will give the engineers valuable information as to what percentage of homes do or don’t have enough space for a tank in the front yard. (If memory serves, weren’t the majority of septic tanks in the PZ located in the front yard, which would make replacing tanks and the laterals easy since they’d be so near the street trunk lines.) That in itself will likely influence how the County proceeds.
In short, this survey raises a whole lotta questions about whether it’s giving a fair shot to STEP. After all, I’m sure a whole lot of people will base their ultimate choice on overall cost and with no overall cost guestimates given in this mailing, they lack that information. And if this survey result becomes “real,” will it influence the later surveys and/or even alter the selection process?
Well, stay tuned.
I had no trouble placing my little sticky note and adding written notes on possible other sites or sites that wouldn’t work due to ginormous invasive tree roots from the eucalyptus in the easements by the street and so forth. I also circled Yes! I support STEP and did so for a variety of reasons, among which is: I’m not afraid of my septic tank. My septic tank is my friend since STEP utilizes my septic tank to digest sludge thereby reducing the work needed to be done at the treatment plant ($$$$) and reducing the amount of sludge needed to be taken somewhere (mo’ $$$$); removing liquid septage only uses smaller bore pipes which reduces the cost of laying pipe (no need to dig ginormous holes in the streets ($$$$); if there’s any breakage, the operators are alerted immediately, since the liquid is under pressure, so it can be repaired immediately, versus hidden leaks from gravity pipes that may leak for ages before being discovered and the community is Fined! Fined! Fined! By Roger Briggs ($$$$$), and so forth.
Well, my particular die is cast. I hope yours is too. And now we’ll wait to see what the rest of the plans show and will “vote” accordingly. Chugga Chugga Chugga.