Angry Los Ososans? A Public Records Act request for SLO County Public Works Dept.
TO: John Waddell, SLO County Public Works Dept., Project Manager, Los Osos sewer project
I'm working on a story, and it requires that I do a Public Records Act request with your department, but first, I want to apologize to you and your staff because my request is likely going to involve thousands of pages, and I feel bad about putting your staff through this massive effort, but it's extremely important for my story that I see these public documents.
Additionally, before I get to the details of my PRA request, I want to explain why I am doing this.
It has to do with this photograph of the new wastewater treatment plant that the county recently constructed outside of Los Osos:
Beautiful facility (congratulations), however, here's the HUGE problem that I'm seeing with that photograph: I'm not seeing a "picnic area" and a "tot lot" in the picture.
Allow me to explain.
As I first exposed in my 2004 New Times cover story, archived at this link:
... the 1999 - 2005 Los Osos CSD Board of Directors, when they were developing their now-failed "mid-town" project, wrote in their 2001 project report, "The size and location of the other (potential sewer plant) sites did not provide an opportunity to create a community amenity. The sites on the outskirts of town could not deliver a community use area that was readily accessible to the majority of residents in the manner that a central location such as (the mid-town site) could."
Additionally, in the 2004 development permit issued by the California Coastal Commission for the LOCSD's now-failed "mid-town" project, CCC staff writes:
"Other (out of town sewer plant site) alternatives (to the mid-town site) were rejected (by the 2000 LOCSD Board of Directors) on the basis that they did not accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities."
So, to be clear, according to numerous official documents, the sole reason the 2000 LOCSD Board of Directors was building their sewer plant in the middle of Los Osos, was so the town's residents could "readily access" the "centrally located community amenities" that the 2000 LOCSD Board of Directors designed into their project.
Now, I realize that sounds crazy, but it's true. Here's the actual drawing of the mid-town site from the cover of the District's 2001 report:
See? "Picnic area," "tot lot," "amphitheater," and a lot more "community amenities" were part of the LOCSD's mid-town sewer plant, and that was why it was being built in the middle of town -- so the "community amenities" in the sewer plant would be "readily accessible to the majority of residents" -- as I first exposed in my 2004 cover story.
Again: "Other (out of town) alternatives (to the mid-town site) were rejected (by the 1999-2000 LOCSD Board of Directors) on the basis that they did not accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities."
Now, as I also exposed in my 2004 cover story, the reason the 1999-2000 LOCSD Board of Directors designed things like a "picnic area" and a "tot lot" in their sewer plant is because, according to the Board, there is a "strongly held community value" in Los Osos that "any" -- repeat: "any" -- sewer plant proposed for Los Osos must also double as a "recreational asset to the community."
Here's the quote from the LOCSD's 2001 report:
"It is essential that any proposed wastewater project within the community of Los Osos reflect (the) strongly held community value (of) creating a wastewater treatment facility that is a visual and recreational asset to the community."
So, that was the main thrust of my 2004 story, that the LOCSD was building their sewer plant in the middle of town, because, according to the LOCSD Board of Directors, the overwhelming majority of Los Ososans demanded that they not only be able to "picnic" and play with their "tots" in the town's sewer plant, but that it also be "centrally located" so they could more easily access the "picnic area/tot lot" in the sewer plant. (I mean, what good is a "picnic area" in a sewer plant if you have to drive three minutes out of town to get to it, right?)
And all of that back-story gets me back to the photo of the county's recently completed sewer plant for Los Osos. I don't see a "picnic area" in the photo.
And that fact -- the fact that the new sewer plant is NOT a "recreational asset to the community" -- an "essential" element for "any proposed wastewater project within the community of Los Osos," according to the 1999-2005 LOCSD Board of Directors -- must really anger the overwhelming majority of Los Ososans that have the "strongly held community value" to "picnic" in "any proposed wastewater project within the community of Los Osos" -- a "strongly held community value" so powerful that the 1999-2005 LOCSD Board of Directors "rejected" ALL "other (out of town) alternatives (to the mid-town site)... on the basis that (the out of town sites) did not accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities."
And that gets straight to my Public Records Act request: Please consider this email an official Public Records Act request for all correspondence from Los Osos residents to the County of SLO involving Los Osos residents' anger/outrage/etc. over the fact that the county did not include amenities like a "picnic area," "tot lot" and "amphitheater" in their recently constructed sewer plant outside of Los Osos.
Again, I sincerely apologize for the massive scope of my PRA request. I mean, there are about 15,000 people living in Los Osos, and a "strongly held community value" has got to be... what?... at least 75-percent of that 15,000, right? So, we're looking at what must be about 10,000 extremely angry Los Ososans that are furious with the county over the fact that their "strongly held community value" to "picnic" in their sewer plant wasn't fulfilled, let alone the fact that the county didn't build its plant in the middle of town, which means that, even IF the county had included a "picnic area" in its sewer plant for Los Osos, those 10,000 extremely angry Los Ososans would still have to drive about three minutes out of town to picnic in their sewer plant, and according to the 1999 - 2005 LOCSD Board of Directors, that is completely unacceptable -- so unacceptable, in fact, that the 1999 - 2005 LOCSD Board of Directors spent millions upon millions upon millions of public dollars over the span of some seven years (at "approximately 1 million gallons" of water pollution "per day," by the way), and even went so far as to "override" the entire environmental review process -- a massive process that pointed to out-of-town sites, of course -- all in an attempt to meet the "essential" "strongly held community value" in Los Osos of "picnicking" in a "centrally located," "readily accessible" sewer plant, while the SLO County Public Works Dept. just completely disregarded that "essential" "project objective," and, at the end of your sewer development process, in 2009 -- a process that included the LOCSD'S "mid-town" "sewer-park" as a potential alternative -- never even came close to building it.
[However, it is very important to note here that the SLO County Planning Commission AND the SLO County Board of Supervisors both approved the LOCSD's now-failed, mid-town sewer plant/"picnic area"/"tot lot" in 2003... 13 years ago... at "approximately 1 million gallons" of water pollution "per day" in a sewer-less Los Osos.]
So, again, that "strongly held community value" in Los Osos must be extremely powerful, which likely means that your office received thousands of pages of correspondence from angry Los Ososans furious over the fact that they now will never be able to picnic with their kids in their sewer plant, let alone a "centrally located" sewer plant, which must really anger the community of Los Osos.
So, those are the documents I'd like to read for possible inclusion in my story.
Normally, for a PRA request, I ask that the documents simply be compiled into a pdf file, and then have that pdf file emailed to me, but, for this request, considering that it's almost certainly going to involve thousands and thousands of pages, if you could just have your talented staff collect the documents, and let me know when they're available for viewing, I will come into the SLO County Public Works Dept. office and sort through them.
Again, I apologize for the massive scope of this PRA request, but it is extremely important for my on-going reporting on the Los Osos sewer story that I read those documents, that are sure to number in the thousands... I mean, of course it's thousands, right?
If you have any questions involving this request, or, if you need more clarification on which documents I'm requesting, please just ask.
As always, much thanks,
P.S: This email posted to my blog, SewerWatch, at this link:
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