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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Posted below (with permission) is an affordability report prepared by Los Osos citizen, Mimi Whitney and a friend of hers in Santa Ana, Sherry Fuller. If memory serves, a judge ruling on one of the Sewer Wars lawsuits has already noted that there is nothing in law concerning “affordability.” The various “guidelines” are just that – guidelines -- not legal requirements and so can be ignored. Indeed, a sewer system can be designed using gold-plated pipes with a treatment plant clad in travertine marble decorated with lapis and tourmaline mosaic and if the cost forces every single person out of the town on account of “unaffordability,” Oh, Well, Too Bad, but it would still not be an issue.
But, given the numbers below, it becomes clear that a “stimulus” package designed to stop foreclosures, not from an A.R.M. but due to a sewer bill, would certainly fit in this community.
An added note, in the third paragraph, it appears that the author is saying the cost will be $150 a month PLUS $250 in additional costs. Unless I’m very much mistaken, that $250 figure is a total cost guestimate (capital cost plus OM&R fees). And my thanks to Ms. Whitney and Ms. Fuller for taking the time to prepare this report. Another example of Los Osos residents who are concerned about this project and who have gotten informed and involved in the issues.


AFFORDABILITY REPORT
Prepared for
THE COMMUNITY OF LOS OSOS
WASTEWATER PROJECT
January 2009

Summary
The proposed cost for the Los Osos Wastewater Project (LOWWP) presents serious affordability issues for up to 60% of the Prohibition Zone (PZ) residents.

Overview
Affordability for the LOWWP is of significant concern for a predominant majority of residents in the PZ. County preliminary estimates indicate the project may cost $165 million.1
Project cost for each single-family residential parcel is expected to be $25,000. This cost was published with the 218 Vote of 2007. It was explained that an assessment will be included in each property owner’s annual tax assessment. While one can pay the entire amount up front, it is not likely that most will do this. Thus, assessments will be $1,800 per year, or $150 per month. Additional costs will include monthly fees for operation and maintenance, which will bring the total estimated cost to $250 per month. Another homeowner expense will be the one-time cost to decommissioning a septic tank and hook up to the sewer. Since these additional costs have not been presented to the community, this analysis only considers the assessment of $25,000 per single-family residential parcel.

Affordability Guidelines
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) provides some guidance on wastewater charges. According to the USAEPA’s Rate Options to Address Affordability Concerns for Consideration by District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (2002), user rates should be calculated as a percentage of median household income (MHI) on a system-wide basis. Rates are considered affordable if they are less than 2% of MHI.
While wastewater user rates are considered affordable if less than 2% of MHI, they average much less throughout the United States. According to Water and Wastewater Pricing: An Informational Overview, prepared in 2003 by the USEPA Office of Wastewater Management, combined water and wastewater rates average 0.5% of MHI in the United States. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the percentage of household income needed by 2019 to pay for infrastructure investments for water and wastewater would increase this percentage to 0.6% (on the low end) to 0.9% (on the high end) of household income.

1 Source: “Supes Approve Another Million” The Bay News, January 22, 2009.

Finally, according to the draft staff document Small Community Wastewater Strategy prepared by the California State Water Board (CSWB) in 2008, both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Public Health (DPU) use 1.5% of MHI for evaluating sewer affordability. Further, this report identifies other factors for evaluating affordability, and these include: MHI, sewer rates as a percentage of MHI, population density and rate base, distance from larger regional systems, debt service and long-term operational and maintenance costs, regional cost of living, and status of the local and/or regional economy. With the recent state of the economy in the United States, no doubt this would also be a significant factor.

Analysis
This analysis assumes the $25,000 single-family assessment in the PZ will be added to property taxes at $1,800 per year for 30 years. Affordability is examined using several factors identified by the CSWB in its 2008 staff document.

Median Household Income and Sewer Rates as a Percentage
According to Business Analyst Online by ESRI2 , 2008 MHI for the PZ is $60,234. Therefore, using the USEPA affordability criterion, the annual cost for the LOWWP should be $1,205, which is significantly less than what the LOWWP is expected to cost PZ single family residential property owners. Using the USDA and DPU criterion, the annual cost for the LOWWP should be $904 per year, which is one-half of its projected cost. When considering nationwide averages, annual costs for the LOWWP should range from $361 to $542 annually.
At $1,800 annually, the public works portion (collection, treatment, recharge) of the LOWWP is expected to consume 3% of the MHI, which exceeds the USEPA baseline for affordability. It is double the USDA and DPU baseline. This 3% does not include long-term maintenance and operation costs or the one-time homeowner expense of connecting to the sewer lines. When these costs are included, annual cost will exceed 4% and may even approach 5% of the MHI.
This picture is much more grim for those households that earn less than the MHI of $33,5003 annually. The LOWWP costs will consume a much larger share of household income, as demonstrated in Exhibit 1.


2 Source: ESRI provides management and geographic information analysis and GIS technology with 35 years of experience. ESRI creates 2008 forecasts based on 2000 US Census data.
3 Source: “Official State Income Limits for 2008.” Memorandum from Department of Housing and Community Development. February 28, 2008.

Cost as a Percentage of Household Income
Exhibit 1


Households
LOWWP Cost As

Households by Income Number Percent A Percentage of HI

< $10,000 220 4.2% at least 18.0%

$10,000 - $14,999 129 2.5% 1 8.0% - 12.0%

$15,000 - $19,999 238 4.5% 12.0% - 9.0%

$20,000 - $24,999 309 5.9% 9.0% - 7.2%

$25,000 - $29,999 295 5.6% 7.2% - 6.0%

$25,000 - $29,999 204 3.9% 6.0% - 5.1%

$35,000 - $39,999 232 4.4% 5.1% - 4.5%

$40,000 - $44,999 329 6.3% 4.5% - 4.0%

$45,000 - $49,999 223 4.3% 4.0% - 3.6%

$50,000 - $59,999 428 8.2% 3.6% - 3.0%

$60,000 - $74,999 538 10.3% 3.0% - 2.4%

$75,000 - $99,999 1,110 21.2% 2.4% - 1.8%

$100,000 - $124,999 450 8.6% 1 .8% - 1.4%

$125,000 - $149,999 141 2.7% 1.4% - 1.2%

$150,000 - $199,999 213 4.1% 1.2% - 0.9%

$200,000 - $249,999 64 1.2% 0.9% - 0.7%

$250,000 - $499,999 94 1.8% 0.7% - 0.4%

$500,000 + 26 0.5% 0.4% or less
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000 Census of Population and Housing. ESRI forecast for 2008.


Exhibit 1 demonstrates a number of affordability concerns. At $1,800 annually:
§ The cost of the LOWWP will exceed 2% of household income for more than 60% of households in the PZ.
§ The cost of the LOWWP will exceed 1.5% of household income for more than 80% of households in the PZ.
§ Cost as a percentage of household income will be double-digits for over 10% of households in the PZ.
§ Cost as a percentage of household income will be comparable to the US average for only 2% of households in the PZ.
According to the USEPA report Rate Options to Address Affordability Concerns, when wastewater rates exceed 2% of household income, they are not considered affordable. It is important to point out that this will be the case for more than 60% of households in the PZ.
According to ESRI, in 2008, 49% of households in the PZ are headed by an adult age 55 or older (senior households). This is expected to increase to 54% by 2013. The expected cost of the LOWWP will have a unique impact on senior households (emphasis added) because many seniors are on fixed incomes that may not accommodate a 3% or higher increase in living expenses. Further, recent events in the financial sector have had a devastating impact on retirement funds and savings, which is already impacting senior households’ ability to pay for housing, utilities, food, and other essential expenses. Exhibit 2 demonstrates the financial impact on senior households.

Cost as a Percentage of Household Income – Age 55+
Exhibit 2

Senior Households
LOWWP Cost As


Households by Income Number Percent A Percentage of HI

< $15,000 197 7.71% at least 12.0%

$15,000 - $24,999 347 13.58% 12.0% - 7.2%

$25,000 - $34,999 284 11.11% 7.2% - 5.1%

$35,000 - $49,999 438 17.14% 5.1% - 3.6%

$50,000 - $74,999 408 15.96% 3.6% - 2.4%

$75,000 - $99,999 524 20.50% 2.4% - 1.8%

$100,000 - $149,999 200 7.82% 1.8% - 1.2%

$150,000 - $199,999 88 3.44% 1.2% - 0.9%

$200,000 - $249,999 23 0.90% 0.9% - 0.7%

$250,000 - $499,999 35 1.37% 0.7% - 0.4%

$500,000 + 12 0.47% 0.4% or less

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000 Census of Population and Housing. ESRI forecast for 2008.


Exhibit 2 demonstrates a number of affordability concerns for senior households. At $1,800 annually:
§ The cost of the LOWWP will exceed 2% of household income for more than 65% of senior households in the PZ.
§ The cost of the LOWWP will exceed 1.5% of household income for more than 85% of senior households in the PZ.
§ Cost as a percentage of household income will be very near double-digits for over 20% of senior households in the PZ.
§ Cost as a percentage of household income will be comparable to the US average for less than 2% of senior households in the PZ.
According to the USEPA guidelines, the LOWWP will be deemed unaffordable to over 65% of senior households.

Long-term Operating and Maintenance (O&M) Costs
As discussed above, the $25,000 assessment does not include O&M costs, or the one-time cost to connect to the wastewater collection system. O&M costs have not yet been provided; therefore, these costs are not analyzed. However, it is worth examining utility allowances provided by the Housing Authority of the City of San Luis Obispo. Utility allowances are used when calculating affordable housing costs.


Monthly Utility Allowance - Sewer
Exhibit 3

Number of Bedrooms
Community 0 1 2 3 4
Cambria $32 $34 $37 $43 $48
Cayucos $37 $37 $37 $37 $37
Los Osos $150+ $150+ $150+ $150+ $150+
Morro Bay $34 $34 $34 $34 $40
Pismo Beach / Shell Beach $32 $32 $32 $32 $32
San Luis Obispo $20 $25 $36 $51 $66
Source: Housing Authority of the City of San Luis Obispo (excluding Los Osos).

The monthly costs in Exhibit 3 are not necessarily actual costs for most households in these communities (with the exception of Los Osos when the LOWWP assessment comes due). Rather, these figures are deemed affordable for the dwelling size and are based on representative costs in these communities. They are useful here for comparison purposes.

Regional Cost of Living and Status of Local/Regional Economy
According to ESRI, residents in the PZ spend slightly more on housing and other expenditures compared to the national average.4 Where 100 represents the national average, PZ household spending indices include:
Housing: 106
Original home mortgage 115
Home mortgage interest 109
Home mortgage principal 108
Lump sum home equity interest 114
Lump sum home equity principal 112
Health care 105
Personal care products and services 104
Life and other insurance 105

According to ESRI, housing expenditures consume 29% of household income. Furthermore, payments associated with home mortgages and home equity loans have large spending indices relative to nationwide averages.
According to data complied by the California Realtor’s Association, homes in San Luis Obispo County lost 40% of value from the peak price in June 2006 to September 2008.
According to DataQuick:
§ The median sales price in Los Osos in September 2008 was $397,500, which is a 6.9% decline from September 2007’s median price of $427,000.
§ Looking back to April 2007, which had a median price of $437,000, the decline to September 2008 is 9.4%
§ DataQuick’s most recent sales figures are for November 2008; the median price for Los Osos was $348,000, which was a decline of 12.5% from September 2008 and 20.4% from April 2007.
4 Source: 2004 and 2005 Consumer Expenditure Surveys, Bureau of Labor Statistics. ESRI forecast for 2008.

Real estate and financial experts are unable to predict when housing prices will “hit bottom,” though some speculate it will be in 2009 or 2010. Experts also cannot predict how low this “bottom” will go. This is significant for a number of reasons. Homeowners who had planned to use home equity to pay for the assessment and/or connection costs may find they no longer have equity. For those homeowners who have enough equity, loans may be possible; however, requirements for borrowing have tightened. Further, particularly if one has a low or fixed income, qualifying debt to income ratios must meet strict guidelines. Seniors who might have considered a reverse mortgage may think twice before locking in current home values that have declined significantly.
Homeowners who are forced to move because they cannot afford the LOWWP costs may find themselves having to sell their home for less than they owe. Or they may be unable to sell at all and experience default or foreclosure. According to RealtyTrac, in January 2009, there were approximately 40 properties in the PZ that were in default or bank-owned.
Renters will have a similar experience in that they may be forced to move due to LOWWP costs passed through from the property owner.
Estimates can be made and they can be challenged. But the facts are fairly clear that there will be a significant financial impact on a very large portion of the PZ population that the County will need to take into account. Unfortunately, no one has given this much attention and unless the sewer costs are made affordable, or grant programs established, or some creative financing programs are put into place, there will be a very difficult situation at hand.
Additionally, the EPA and the SRWCB will be looking at costs and funding options. The cost burden will not escape scrutiny.

Report Prepared by:
Sherry Fuller, Associate Consultant (Principal Research/Report Preparation)
RSG Inc., Santa Ana, Ca.
Phone (714) 316-2119

Mimi Whitney, AICP Retired (Secondary Research/Editing)
Los Osos/Baywood, Ca
Phone (805) 529-1638

All work prepared pro bono

© ESRI proprietary. All rights reserved.

62 comments:

Watershed Mark said...

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...
Mark,

I'm not gonna waste my time backing up an offhand comment I made. If I was wrong, it was an offhand comment and no big deal. If you want to spend time showing I was mistaken, great and if I was wrong, that would be awesome. We'll deal with it if you take the time to demonstrate my error. Hell, I'll admit it now, I may have been mistaken about the aquifer Phoenix using being in overdraft. I might have been thinking of some other town. Big deal.

Just Spin Baby...

9:40 AM, March 10, 2009

Watershed Mark said...

According to data complied by the California Realtor’s Association, homes in San Luis Obispo County lost 40% of value from the peak price in June 2006 to September 2008.
• According to DataQuick, the median sales price in Los Osos in September 2008 was $397,500
Which is a 6.9 percent decline from September 2007’s median price of $427,000

• Looking back to April 2007, which had a median price of $437,000, the decline to September 2008 is 9.4%

• DataQuick’s most recent sales figures are for November 2008; the median price for Los Osos was $348,000 which was a decline of 12.5% from September 2008 and 20.4% from April 2007.

Lyneete, Steve: What hapened to the spin cycle? I guess we should call a repairman...
MIKE, abs, r, anyboby?

9:33 AM, March 09, 2009

Just Spin Baby!!!

Richard LeGros said...

Ann,

It is disgusting that this new group is trying to usurp the afforability issue when they (and you) have been driving up the costs for all of us as you oppose & fight every project that has been proposed (and killed) over the years. They have no one but themselves to blame for the mounting cost. Shame on them.

Meanwhile, why not support the County to keep costs as low as possible by not fighting them as they build the sewer ASAP?

Lady, you ain't foolin' anyone!

-R

Billy Dunne said...

"...As the federally compliant LOSTDEP RECLAMATOR Solution is already underway, how is it in your way?

I'll let the "professional" tag go for now as I know change can be difficult for some and I see you are feeling the "change".
We can always visit that later;-)... Los Osos is to become the national/and first world headquarters for the AES RECLAMATOR so we can talk then.

AES RECLAMATOR technology is superior to anything GE or Siemens represent, it is simply the "best".
Mike, LO/BP need to cease the discharge of pollutants that is why we are here with the best technology at the best price.
It is a statement of fact that "best" is to be implemented by law USC 33/26.
California doesn't have a more stringent law in this regard, which is also fact..."
Marcus Low Calhoun's Canons January 26, 2008

Just spin baby!!!


"After his departure in late May, Low started sending a string of e-mails to environmental bureaucrats, politicians, and reporters that poke holes in the Reclamator’s effectiveness, and Murphy’s business model."
New Times July 30, 2008

Just spin baby!!

“They’re like sorry losers,” he (Murphy) says of the public agencies that criticize him. “They’re like Mark Low.”
New Times July 30, 2008

Just spin baby!!!!!!!!!!!

Realistic1 said...

Ann,

So what happens if no solution fits the affordability guidelines?

Do we just keep polluting?

At what point does the search for the Holy Grail of sewer systems end?

Watershed Mark said...

"If there is a signifiantly less expensive technology, then that technology becomes the newstandardand all others fall away"-Paavo Ogren 8-07

Watershed Mark said...

r- Look at Tri-W for proof of what "hurry" can do.

Watershed Mark said...

Willy, You obviously do not understand wastewater treatment process and you have not read the law.

So you are left to: Just Spin Baby!

GVD said...

Does anyone know what will be the interest rate on the $25,000 assessment? The rate could make a multi thousand dollar difference after 30 years. Yet hardly a word about it. Pavo did say once that the rate is capped at 12 % which would be way too high.

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

GVD,

On $25k over 20 years,

0% interest --> monthly payments of $105
2% interest --> monthly payments of $125
4% interest --> monthly payments of $150
6% --> $180
8% --> $210
10% --> $240
12% --> $275

Yes, rate is huge ...

Aaron said...

Richard,

Without rabble-rousing, can you explain specifically how Ann is responsible for the rising costs for "all of us"? When someone refers to "us," my mind associates that term with the Prohibition Zone and not everyone in Los Osos lives in the Prohibition Zone. Thus, people outside the PZ won't be affected by the increased costs.

I haven't seen you address the affordability issue, Richard. I've only seen you insult Ann and Mark ad nauseum and that's not productive.

The problem that keeps appearing is the misconception that placing an emphasis on affordability automatically means that a viable solution for Los Osos would be prolonged. In reality, during this entire process, the County could have considered affordability in the screening process without delaying the process but they decided not to.

Sewertoons said...

I would guess that the County has considered an exodus of 5,000 people. At 2.5 per person in a home (and for my best guess, 30% of homes are rentals), 2000 homes are in jeopardy, 600 of that number are rentals (Poly students make up a certain percentage of rentals, but I don't have any idea what that would be - that # is likely to remain untouched). We can't expect that there aren't homes in the bigger tax brackets aren't in jeopardy, too. Probably a smaller percentage. A calculation needs to be made how many were pre Prop 13 owned and how many have heftier taxes (I was shocked at our property tax amount buying high in 2005). A certain calculable amount of homes turn over every year, so that number needs to be figured in as well back to pre Prop 13. Whatever that figure is - I'm sure the County is looking at their very real need for the tax money that returns to them. From what I have read, there is little movement in real estate, no one is buying much. So foreclosed and vacant homes are not going to go away very quickly.

I suspect the County wants this project to be as affordable as possible for their own reasons as it certainly will affect their revenues.

Sewertoons said...

Aaron, how would the County addressing affordability affect the outcome of what they have been doing all along? They ARE looking for the most affordable solution - that isn't a bogus one.

If a solution appears "affordable" to non-engineers due to salesmen talk, how does pushing for something that won't work here help us? When will expecting to find that magic bullet finally be dismissed as myth?

Richard LeGros said...

Aaron,

Drop an by and I will discuss the affordability issue with you, besides others. I am still waiting for you to set the time and day.

AS for the affordzability issue, the 9th Central Court of Appeals made a ruling on the 2001-2003 CASE lawsuit (aka Keller etal v LOCSD)that wiped out any argument that lack of affordability does not negate the State requirement that Los Osos install a WWTF. If you want a copy of it, I will email it to your blogsite.

As for the County, they have already addressed affordibility as required by the CEQA process. As the old CSD said...and now the County...the best way to keep costs down is to build a viable project ASAP.

If anything, this new groups afforability report offers only criticism without any solutions tendered. If they are trying to fight / void the need for a project because it costs too much, then they will fail. Also, seems to me that if the project is to be made affordable then the County needs to build a project ASAP and be awarded huge grants and/or Stimulus Funding. Sadly, the County current plans do not qualify for Stimulus Funding.

AS for Ann, Ron, WM, GRO, etal no pleasantries are neccessary.

-R

Watershed Mark said...

The familiar corner Tribune newspaper stand may be a thing of the past.
Tribune slashing jobs as McClatchy freefalls.

“If there is technology that is significantly less expensive, then that technology becomes the new standard and all others fall away”- Paavo Ogren 8-07 Speaking before the SLOCO BOS about the Los Osos Wastewater Project.

Does anyone actually believe that the current county wastewater collection and treatment projects as outlined in the DEIR and RFQ will be capped at $25,000.00 per household?

Realistic1 said...

Aaron,

I truly appreciate your civil tone. If everyone behaved as you have lately, this community might actually be able to come together.

As for the affordability issue, I will ask you the same question I asked Ann, above:

"So what happens if no solution fits the affordability guidelines?

Do we just keep polluting?

At what point does the search for the Holy Grail of sewer systems end?"

Have a great day!

Watershed Mark said...

r1 wrote: At what point does the search for the Holy Grail of sewer systems end?"

r1: When all have been openly and "honestly" evaluated, the tech memos submitted for review to the people who are expected to pay for the decision and not one second before that occurs.

We shall soon see how $3 Million of the peoples money has been spent...by companies that did not "bid" for their contracts.

Watershed Mark said...

r1 wrote:Do we just keep polluting?
R1 If the current gravity collection design as outlined in the DEIR and RFQ gets installed "you" will never stop polluting.

To cease polluting it will require sealed collection.

Watershed Mark said...

r1: think about it: Why would the county want to ignore other less invasive (no septic tank)and less expensive LPS collection technology?

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

Funny ... now Mark is suggesting that no-bid contracts are inherently problematic. All the wastewater projects in the US could be fully funded by the amount wasted by no-bid contractors in Iraq. Of course, we've heard diddly-squat about that problem.

ps for the confused - snarky comments are not intended to be read literally.

Aaron said...

Before I got into the meat and potatoes of the discussion, I first wanted to say a couple of things.

Richard, if you want to meet with me in person, there is a condition that needs to be met. You need to be respectful to people that you disagree with. You need to consider the counterargument. I can completely understand the frustration of having to repeat yourself to people who are not listening. I can understand the 82 people who agreed with Garfinkel's viewpoint. I understand Taxpayers Watch's mission, but at the same time, if you want to combat misconceptions and falsehoods, you have to elaborate on your own positions more than condemning those who you disagree with.

Exchanging pleasantries is not necessary because, in the end, results is what we want, not banter.

#

I've received a lot of excellent questions and comments, which really shows a lot of growth in this town -- and this is the tone that we must set so that we do not pass the bitterness to our children and to our grandchildren; so that we do not find ourselves stopping progress based on cancerous animosity.

Richard, I would like to review the Kellar et al. vs. LOCSD lawsuit. You can click here to send an e-mail to me. If possible, if you can direct me to where the County sought affordability in compliance with CEQA, I'd greatly appreciate that as well.

Realistic1 asks some very good questions because these questions are coming from frustrated homeowners who have spent so many years agonizing over this situation. I'm going to answer these questions very carefully.

If no solution fits the affordability guidelines, then the County should set up a system so that homeowners can select a payment plan that is convenient to them and their monthly income. Los Osos homeowners are exposed to very limited loan and grant opportunities. Those who don't qualify for those opportunities would have to carry a heavy burden of paying for a costly service that benefits even those who aren't paying for it.

The search for the Holy Grail of sewer systems will end when the search is led by independent minds instead of bureaucracies who discriminate in favor of MWH-inspired solutions.

Watershed Mark said...

Steve,
Although you appear cowardly at best, at least you are now admitting that you are snarky instead of rhetorical as you have previously claimed.

BTW $100 Million split between 4,762 is $20,999.58 per household.
It is a good idea to get honest review of less expensive technology.

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

Mark,

Snarky is a rhetorical device technique.

I'll claim again that the technology was reviewed and that it was found lacking because there are no similar communities using this technology and because the County found the salesman had an attitude problem.

Do you want to bet a million dollars on an unproven technology sold by someone who is in-your-face-annoying?

Richard LeGros said...

Aaron,

I have emailed you the 9th Circuit courts ruling. You will not like it. It is very blunt.

I have posted on this blog over 3 years....I have explained my positions ad nausea with documentation and analyse; so Ann etall know exactly where I stand.
Try walking in my shoes for a while and you would understand my behavior nor have set a 'rule'

As to your 'rule' for meeting, a thought; best not to set rules for people you do not have any control over. Is it not better just to meet without any set agenda and chat? You know my offer is sincere....why not just take a little time off for the heck of it?

-R

Aaron said...

Richard,

Thanks for taking into account the possibility of what I like or wouldn't like, but this isn't an issue about what I "like." I like information especially the kind of information that makes a great counterargument. If I was right all the time, life would be very boring and I certainly don't want to live a boring life.

I'm not establishing this condition as a means of controlling you. I'm just asking for you, Richard, to make the effort in being respectful and diplomatic. I appreciate your gesture to meet with me, but you should know by now that we cannot afford to squabble over the sewer any more. The issue has divided friends, neighbors and families in Los Osos. When you can at least acknowledge that the tone needs to change, you'll get an e-mail from me, we'll sit down and meet or maybe have a beer.

Watershed Mark said...

By: congaltonkvec920 on 3/10/09
"I think the trib is getting unfairly hammered by ya'll. No good dead goes unpunished. Ask all the non-profits in town if they would like to see the Trib disappear. The Tribune helps out in countless ways trying to support the various do-gooder organizations. Can you see the New Times doing this? Doubtful. How about the number of people they employ? 170? Do you all want to see them out of work? What a bunch of frigging vultures! They shop here, live here, spend here, raise their families here. Hey MccCongaldave, how would you change the paper (other than firing Sandy)?"

Sharibaby -- Perhaps we should call you "crybaby" instead. I'm guess that smear in your last sentence about "MccCongaldave" is a reference to me making some kind of anonymous attack on the Tribune and Sandy Duerr.

Unlike you, I put my name behind my opinion. I do it on my radio show. I do it on my blog. I do it on this site, too. I'm not ashamed of opinions that I take. Like Roger Freberg, I don't like the Anonymice who inhabit and pollute the Internet with their rhetorical cowardice.

In terms of the Tribune, I feel no joy for what is happening in their newsroom. I was a part of that family from 1989 to 1998. That's where I learned to write and write well. I made many friends there and I think of Jeff Fairbanks each and every day.

If you think I'm gloating over them, then you're a bigger idiot than you appear. The Tribune is facing the same challenges all other daily papers are encountering. I blame McClatchy for buying a newspaper they couldn't afford and then hanging them out to dry.

I am proud to have been associated with that paper and I want only the best for them, even Sandy Duerr.

Your turn S.B. -- or probably B.S. is more appropriate.

Dave Congalton

New Age Newspaper with instant “reader feedback”

I agree with Dave on this: I'm not ashamed of opinions that I take. Like Roger Freberg, I don't like the Anonymice who inhabit and pollute the Internet with their rhetorical cowardice.

Snark, are you listening?

Mark Low
602.740.7975 voice
480.464.0405 facsimile
Mark@NOwastewater.com
P.O. Box 1355 Mesa, Arizona 85211
Spero Meliora "I aspire to greater things"

Watershed Mark said...

Alas "r" you rushed to clear cut those trees for no good reason.
For that there is another far more final Judgement than the most overturned Federal District Court in the Country.

Watershed Mark said...

Snark:
Wrong again.
&
What "untested technology" are you referring to?

Watershed Mark said...

Steve,
You are annoying and inaccurate and I'm still working to keep "the process" honest which will save you many millions.

Watershed Mark said...

Speaking of "Honest"...Lyneete, how is that going???

Realistic1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Watershed Mark said...

r1: If you are one of those several hundred lots on or very close to the bay you won't be on gravity anyway.
You will have one of those other systems that were not studied or Tech Memo'd because you are in high ground water area.

If it is good enough for you it is good enough for everyone.

I heard "someone" was dissing vacuum be cause it couldn't overcome a 20% incline in some areas.

What a joke....

It will overcome that and more just like a gravity system would or better.

Let's get a tech memo and a bid shall we???

Realistic1 said...

Mark,

I was going to be on gravity with the Tri-W project, no pumps required, so why would I not be on gravity with any other project (if that's the chosen collection technology)?

But what do I know? After all, according to you, I'm just a cowardly, little mouse.

Realistic1 said...

Aaron,

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

I agree that everyone needs to have an open mind when it comes to technology so, in my book, the fact that Montgomery Watson Harza "inspired" a particular technology should not preclude it from consideration.

If you haven't read my thoughts on STEP collection before, I will repeat them here. I have a "sliver" lot near the bay. 25 feet x 120 feet. I cannot expand the footprint of my house beyond its current 450 square feet due to the septic tank setbacks I am required to maintain. I have no interest in going vertical, and all I want to do is expand the footprint by a few hundred square feet so I can have some interior storage and cook in a kitchen I can actually turn around in. No mini-mansion in MY future.

If I am required to install a STEP system, I will give up at least 1/3 of my already small lot to a County easement. In doing so, I give up the possibility of a slightly larger house and a hardscaped driveway. As I age, that is what is most important to me.

If there is a proven, tested technology that achieves efficient collection without depriving me of the full use of my lot, I'm all for it. If not, gravity is my choice. That being said, I am not willing to wait another 10 years while we search for the "perfect" technology, nor are many, many of my neighbors. The added costs, both financial and emotional, are just too great.

Thanks again for your response.

Cheers,

Real 1

Watershed Mark said...

Located in the DEIR on page 111 is a proposed collection map. If you increase the size of the map until you can see where your home is located you can get an idea about how collection may be handled at your home.

Although this DEIR Map doesn’t show which sewer will be vacuum collection or grinder pump collection some homes will not be bell and spigot gravity because it leaks and if ocean water enters the collection it would ruin the water heading to the treatment facility. That is why in those areas the collection will be welded.

There is “no” discussion of welded gravity in the DEIR so I continue to wonder how that issue gets handled as the process plays out and as we all watch very closely.
You should ask Paavo Ogren, John Waddell or Mark Hutchinson if you want to know about how your home fits.

Remember these men work for you, they are by defintion "civil servants".
If you ask for service you shall have it.
If you do not get it, demand it. I know you can express yourself i writing...

Watershed Mark said...

r1: In the post you deleted you did say you were on the bay, didn't you?

M said...

The lots virtually everywhere in the prohibition zone are 125' deep aren't they? I don't quite get how realistic1 could be having that issue.
I don't think it has been a search the the "perfect tecnology" so much as the perfect "financial technology.It has been ill-priced and selective in it's naming the prohibition zone to pick up the tab. I find it reprehensible that richard should say shame on you for questioning affordibility. Easy to say for someone not having to foot the bill for this. Of course therin lies the root of our problem. People not footing the bill trying to stake their own agendas.
26 years since 8313 and not one single step has been taken to mitigate the alleged pollution. Except of course the ill-fated cdo's.
I mean no requirements at all in the way of tank inspections, or pumping or anything. Zero information stream of how the septic would be best maintained. I should think that anybody that was really looking out for our best interest would have said, "let's implement a program to mitigate whatever damage being done, at least until a permenent solution is met."
I just don't get that we haven't had that.
Sincerely, M

Mike Green said...

"at least until a permenent solution is met."
I just don't get that we haven't had that.
Sincerely, M"

Apparently you have never heard of Steve Paige.

http://loviews.blogspot.com/

(scroll down and read the archives)

His, is an approved system that complies with everything except the sewer bill.

But we can't have that now, can we? more tea?

Mike said...

Dear M...

4 years ago, we had a legal and fully permitted sewer started...!!!! I'd say that was a BIG step...

...apparently it just wasn't what you wanted...??? and then Post Recall CSD didn't exactly have any Plan...???

Maybe you ought to be telling the BOS to get started if you want to see the pollution halted, the ball is in their court now...

...so don't blame the County... there are so folks right here who don't want any sewer and have and still will go to extreme lengths to see any sewer, any where, delayed and made too expensive for any of us to see or pay for... I do blame Ann, Julie, Lisa. Chuck, All, Kieth and Gail as some of the biggest obstructionists in Los Osos... If you can't afford the sewer, then call them up and thank them for causing the tremendous expenses headed our way...

Watershed Mark said...

Always a good read-

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Churadogs said...

Realistic 1 sez:"Ann,

So what happens if no solution fits the affordability guidelines?"

I thought my intro made it clear: "affordibility" is merely a guideline, not some legally enforced requirement. So "affordability" puts no constraints on systems being considered. The county's keeping affordability in mind, certainly, but it's not constrained by any "cap," say or upper limit. As I pointed out, this project could be gold plated and put everyone out into the street and that still wouldn't matter.

M sez:"The lots virtually everywhere in the prohibition zone are 125' deep aren't they? I don't quite get how realistic1 could be having that issue."

I think the problem comes with "half lots," i.e. 125 deep by 25 wide vs 50 wide, which eliminates a "side yard" that could be used.

M also sez:"26 years since 8313 and not one single step has been taken to mitigate the alleged pollution. Except of course the ill-fated cdo's.
I mean no requirements at all in the way of tank inspections, or pumping or anything."

That's been one of the most amazing ironies in all this. The RWQCB having no real interest in water quality. Pretty funny.

Realistic1 said...

"r1: In the post you deleted you did say you were on the bay, didn't you?"

No Mark, it said I was NEAR the bay, just like the re-posted one above. I deleted the previous post because, in my haste, I mis-spelled "important". I hate typos.

Churadogs said...

richard sez:"It is disgusting that this new group is trying to usurp the afforability issue when they (and you) have been driving up the costs for all of us as you oppose & fight every project that has been proposed (and killed) over the years."

This is fascinating. A couple of Los Osos citizens get interested in this project, spend a lot of time putting together a report that clarifies the financial impacts the county and the commuity are and will be tackling and Richard can only find it "disgusting" and claims it's somehow "usurping" and "fighting" and "opposing" this project. Interesting.

My take is, Hey, thanks for putting this together in an easy to access form. maybe it'll help peopleget a clearer idea of what will be at stake here. maybe, as well, it might occurr that if the new stumulus pkg is also aimed at stopping foreclosures, the Feds will take a look at foreclosures that will occurr here, not because of bad loans, but because of the cost of a sewer project. And maybe, just like the Pre-Reagan days, the federal government will once again help pay for infrastructure projects, like they used to (and for which many of us paid federal taxes for other states infrastructure project over the years, only to see Reagan remove those programs and tell us "you're on your own!")

Realistic1 said...

"The lots virtually everywhere in the prohibition zone are 125' deep aren't they? I don't quite get how realistic1 could be having that issue."

M,

I live on a narrow street, where the county right of way extends half way up my unpaved driveway. If a STEP system is installed out of the County right of way, it will be placed exactly where my septic tank is now.

Richard LeGros said...

Ann,

The report offers nothing to the County that they do not already know; regardless of the reports format. What the report outlines has been know for, oh, about 30+ years.

An expensive project does not mean that Los Osos is excused from building it. Just read the 9th Circuit Court ruling....you should get the point. I have emailed you a copy for your convenience.

We all want an afforable project. Now why the heck don't you actually do samething constructive about it to make it more afforable instead of driving costs up by fighting every project that comes down the pike?

-R

Watershed Mark said...

According to data compiled by the California Realtor’s Association, homes in San Luis Obispo County lost 40% of value from the peak price in June 2006 to September 2008.
• According to DataQuick, the median sales price in Los Osos in September 2008 was $397,500
Which is a 6.9 percent decline from September 2007’s median price of $427,000

• Looking back to April 2007, which had a median price of $437,000, the decline to September 2008 is 9.4%

• DataQuick’s most recent sales figures are for November 2008; the median price for Los Osos was $348,000 which was a decline of 12.5% from September 2008 and 20.4% from April 2007.

Lyneete, Steve: What happened to the spin cycle? I guess we should call a repairman...
MIKE, abs, r, anyboby?

9:33 AM, March 09, 2009

Just Spin Baby!!!
8:45 AM, March 11, 2009

“r” wrote: The report offers nothing to the County that they do not already know; regardless of the reports format. What the report outlines has been know for, oh, about 30+ years.

Looks like r is spun and his wheels have come off. Perhaps the blind eye(s) he turns to the Tri-W clear cut he has to pass to and from home has him “blinded to new information” that would spoil his “perceptions and bias”. Seems he has become comfortably numb.

Realistic1 said...

The lack of affordability is at the forefront of everyone's minds, Mark. Neither Richard, nor anyone else, has become "comfortably numb". We, ya know, LIVE HERE.

I think what Richard was trying to say is that we have to solve the problem regardless of the cost. I can't afford to pay may income taxes, but I pay them because I have to. The same will be true of the sewer.

All the hand-wringing and kvetching is getting us no where.

In the 80's it was "we don't need it"

In the 90's it was "we want to do it ourselves"

In 2005 it was "we don't like the location"

And now, in 2009, it's "we can't afford it"

The County is well aware of the affordability issue. They don't need to be told the sewer is going to hurt some property owners. If the latest citizen's group wants to use their "affordability study" to lobby for grants or stimulus funding, good for them. But they should not give residents false expectations that those guidelines will prevent the State from enforcing the law.

Richard LeGros said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard LeGros said...

Hi Realistic 1,

Great job making the point! ;-)

The last thing we need are more reports on how expensive it will cost per month. What cash-strapped Los Osos property owners want is to get the a project BUILT ASAP; not more time-wasting lamenting how expensive the payments will be!

-R

Watershed Mark said...

Don't let the facts on the ground get in the way of a proposed public works department bloated "conventional" project.

Watershed Mark said...

Virtual Age

GetRealOsos said...

Richard, Real, etc.:

If the County really wanted to make this an affordable project then they would have had the State & Federal kick in "their fair share for benefit" -- Governmental Agencies ARE NOT EXEMPT from the Prop. 218 LAW!!

WHY DIDN'T THE COUNTY MAKE SURE THAT THESE "GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES" PAY??? It's a "Federal" Bay that you say we are polluting! It's the State's groundwater that you say we're polluting.

HOW DARE THE COUNTY SAY THEY CARE ABOUT AFFORDABILITY???

WE WOULD CERTAINLY HAVE GOTTEN THE MONEY THAT OBAMA IS HANDING OUT NOW!!!! Even Golden State Water benefits and didn't have to pay. Oh, how convenient!!!

The County, OBVIOUSLY, wants the seniors' homes. These homes are probably paid off, and when they can't pay the big lump sum every year, a lien will go on their homes and will be taken by the County within three to five years!

The County KNOWS THIS!!!

And, Richard, the Court ruling you talk about here, it is my understanding that "your side" knew the ruling before he (the Judge) ruled!!! Not too cool Richard!

And, Paavo, Noel, Shirley, Mark H., Gail Wilcox have all stated on the record that we would have a gravity project from before the County took over. So, why the dog and pony show?!?

Looks to me like the "survey" was written to favor Tri-W....am I right?

Sewertoons said...

At today's Bruce Gibson meeting, Patrick Sparks - Tom (Wrecklamator) Murphy's attorney, handed literature about ECOfluid and AirVac to Mr. Gibson and Mr. Ogren. wsm must have been holding out on us that he has a new partner, the Wrecklamator attorney!!

Sewertoons said...

Paavo gave new numbers to the survey results at the meeting. 80% of the surveys that were returned have been counted. There was a 33% return rate. Gravity, 67% and step 14%. Tonini 1st, Combo-edge of town 2nd, Tri-W third.

Watershed Mark said...

Lyneete,
Before you attempt to make accusations you cannot back up, don’t you think you ought to fess up regarding "Mr. Dean______?
Honesty is the best policy-

BTW, you or Steve could have presented Bruce Gibson and Paavo "If there is a less expensive technology, then that technology becomes the new standard and all others fall away" Ogren, the information Patrick Sparks presented as you have it and some of it is posted on the county website DEIR Comment Page under my name.

There was already enough of a presence that the county et al will not be able to claim they didn't know.
If they continue to ignore it is because they do not care, which will serve as an example to use over and over and over again.

I understand Patrick Sparks is representing the “private sector”, that means you.

Watershed Mark said...

I understand the Paavo Ogren is not concerned by a leaky pollution bell and spigot gravity sewer in the PZ.

If that is true, it is a big mistake.

Mike said...

Like the PZLDF, some ambulance chaser DOES NOT represent the community, my family or me...

Now as we have all known for a very long time... the snakeoil sales person who advertises ad nausium on this blog, never followed the County established "process" (one of Ann's favorite topics), but is now trying the backdoor in a vain attempt to influence (or just further delay) the selection of the technology for the long delayed Los Osos sewer...

If this tactic is allowed, especially at this stage of the "process', then it would seem that no system will ever be selected as the endless line of sales persons would slither over the hill to persent yet another followed by another "packet"... but isn't that exactly what the CSD5, Ann, Al, Kieth have wanted for the past 5 years...???

Let's hope Paavo simply files the "packet" under the "interesting, but violated the rules of the Process...come back again the next time we request input"

We understand that the County can't not listen to everyone who wants their moment in the spotlight, but hopefully, the County is proceeding toward a decision of what and where the sewer is going and without being sidetracked by the circus and camp followers of Los Osos..!!! Let's just get on with this project and get that sewer in the ground...

Our drinking water is not going to magically cleanse it's self...and our sands are not magical filters...

Churadogs said...

Realistic 1 sez:"All the hand-wringing and kvetching is getting us no where."

That's a perfect description of a blog and blog commentors, which begs the question: So why do so many of you return again and again to kvetch and hand-wring? Then chew on one another's ankles? That also gets us nowhere, but y'all keep doing it. Must be fun?

Realistic1 said...

For the same reason you write the blog, Ann.

You are the hand-wringing, kvetcher extraordinaire.

Why should we let YOU go unchallenged?

Watershed Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Watershed Mark said...

What happens when a NASA engineer comes up with an important new innovation that increases safety and efficiency?

Churadogs said...

I was asked to start the blog by Newstand Greg when he started this Newsmission blogsite. I just find it funny that some of you complain that others of you are kvetching and handwringing, then spend endless hours kvetching and handwringing yourself.