The Tribune recently ran a Bruce-centric, County-centric-pat-ourselves-on-the-back editorial regarding the $87 million loan for the sewer. And, as usual, er, “forgot” to mention some key things, but did try to lay blame on folks who appealed the issue to the Coastal Commission, while, er, overlooking, even more key issues regarding that appeal or the reasons why it was necessary. Typical.
Here’s Julie Tacker’s “Viewpoint” which may or may not make it into the Tribune. Once again, proof positive, that it’s impossible to tell The Hideous Los Osos Sewer Story without about 7,000 footnotes and addenda. Posted with permission.
The September 9 Tribune editorial, “Credit goes to many for securing sewer funds” may as well have read “Blame goes to appellants for County filing late application.” The op-ed piece states “delays in granting the permit – including a nearly six-month continuance by the Coastal Commission – caused the application to be filed later than originally hoped.”
Without naming names the Tribune, parroting statements made by Supervisor Bruce Gibson at the September 7, 2010 Board of Supervisors meeting, blames the twenty-nine appellants for the County’s late application. Twenty-nine appellants (vacant lot owners, long time sewer watchers, a LOCSD Director, a local developer, Sierra Club, Surfrider and two Coastal Commissioners) raised myriad environmental impacts overlooked by the project.
If truth be told, blame for delays rests squarely on the shoulders of Gibson and the Public Works Department. This four year pursuit of the Los Osos Wastewater Project is different than any iteration of the past. By disconnecting water from wastewater -- leaving management of water supply to the purveyor shifts the financial burden to the water bill, equal to or greater than the monthly wastewater bill.
Over a year was lost chasing the “dead on arrival” water wasting sprayfield project at the Tonini Ranch. In the process, the County spent well over $4 million conducting site specific studies of the 642 acre property.
Further removed are the vacant properties from the financial equation, no service -- no charge, no savings from economies of scale. Leaving a $27 million funding shortfall, shifting the entire project cost to the developed properties and adding approximately $30 per month to the already high price.
The leading appeal contention, STEP vs. Gravity, could have been resolved with a side-by-side comparison as was promised in the assessment vote of 2007. Instead, the County spent money elsewhere and thus allowed the debate to continue unresolved.
The USDA money is more complicated than it appears. At 3.25 percent interest for 40 years, when Los Osos is eligible for lower interest through State funding, what “huge relief” does the Tribune see that we don’t? USDA funds at higher interest for a longer duration increases the project cost and a $4 million grant is not “free money” there are always strings attached. Let’s see the fine print.
The County driven delays came long before the permitting process or any appeals were filed. These missteps will continue to plague the project and shift the costs to the project’s rates and charges or to the Golden State and LOCSD water customers.
Blaming appellants perpetuates the divisive tenor in Los Osos, no thanks to the Supervisor or the Tribune for continuing to stir the pot.
K Rat, DOA?
The Solar Ranch folks, who are planning on building a huge solar array out in the Carrizo Plains area, will be holding a workshop at Embassy Suites, in the Edna Room, (333 Madonna Road, SLO) Wednesday, Sept 15th, 7 – 8:30 pm.
The Tribune recently ran a story about the little giant kangaroo rat likely putting a kink in this project’s proposed footprint. Seems there’s giant kangaroo rat dwellings all over the area the 250-megawatt photo voltaic power plan was planning to use. So, now the power-plant footprint shuffle starts. Some of the alternative plans are being looked at by county planners, including putting the whole thing in the central valley, which has already destroyed any native habitat.
But one thing that needs to be addressed in all our plans for building anything that will reduce carbon emissions is this: Is the giant k-rat (or any other critter) a critter that can only survive in an environment with very narrow parameters and variants in temperature/moisture/food supply? If so, then because of what we have already burned, the climate change is already in the pipeline and cannot be stopped. So, is it likely that the Carrizo Plains will either get hotter/drier or wetter/colder or swing wildly between, the grasses and plants will change as well, and the k-rat’s narrow world will be destroyed even if no solar arrays are built out there. So, do we delay going green for fear of wiping out a little critter that’s already doomed, thereby making things worse for other critters down the line? Or do we figure this is all triage and accept that our failure to act years ago has already finished off X amount of critters and we’d best move as quickly as possible to try to avoid killing off Y more?
Well, maybe that question and others will be discussed at the workshop.
If You Plant It, They Will Come
My sister sent a Fresno Bee story that’s a sign of the high times to come if marijuana initiative gets passed.
Remember the good old days when kids climbed Farmer McGuillicuddy’s fence and stole his apples? Well, a field of marijuana in the back yard of a guy with an official medical marijuana permit was growing away under the nice Fresno sun, its green spiky leaves towering over the 6’ fence. Mmmmm, lush, green, 50 x 75 feet of the stuff, right there, mmmm, just over the fence. So, naturally, some guy climbed the fence and started helping himself to some of the lush crop and got himself shot for his trespass.
The shootee is in the hospital in serious condition and the shooter is in a world of legal trouble. (Farmer McGuilicuddy used to just holler at the kids. Nowadays, people pick up guns and end up with a whole passel of violations having to do with excessive use of force.)
Ah, sign of the times, I suppose. If the state-wide initiative passes, maybe a homeowner trying to grow a whole backyard of marijuana would be smart to toss a few seeds out in the public rights of way to lure away thieves and post a sign out at the edge of the property line saying, “Git yer own box!” in hopes it would distract some stoner and prevent the need to shoot the idiot for criminal trespass.
Or get a big dog and hope he doesn’t like to nibble on the leaves.