Monday, August 29, 2005

Finally! Some Straight Answers

I finally figured out how to get straight answers out of the Los Osos Community Services District.

Answer my own questions.

That appears to be my only option, because Michael Drake, Public Information Officer for the CSD has told SewerWatch, "I have no intention of engaging in an on-going debate about the project."


So, now, in a moment of journalism bliss, I get to answer my questions the way I would if I were the Los Osos CSD Public Information Officer.

Me asking question: In a recent report, the Los Osos Community Services District said that the park amenities in the project, now estimated at $2.3 million, were "added by CCC." Yet a document to the California Coastal Commission dated June 28, 2004, says, "the (CSD) Board on June 17, 2004 agreed to add the picnic area, tot lot, amphitheater, and community garden." Considering the June 28, 2004 document to the Coastal Commission, how does the CSD justify saying the amenities were "added by the CCC?"

Me as LOCSD PIO: Well, that's a good question. You see, we're getting the cash-strapped State of California to loan us a ton of cash to pay for this colossally expensive project, but that loan clearly, and wisely, stipulates that "decorative items" are not eligible for funding. But if we can convince the State (and we have, by the way) that the $2.3 million-and-climbing park was added by the Coastal Commission, then the park is considered "mitigation" and therefore eligible for State funding. It may not be the most ethical or legal way of going about our business, but it's pretty smart, if you think about.

So, you can see how important it is that we say that the park was added by the Coastal Commission, because if we actually had to pay for it... well, we'd piss off a lot of people in town since they have already voted that they do not want to be taxed for an expensive park anywhere in Los Osos, let alone at the site of a sewer plant. However, they'll still end up getting stuck with the bill when we repay the loan... if we repay the loan.

Me asking question: In a May 27, 2004 letter to the LOCSD, the California Coastal Commission says: "We noted that the Andre site was the environmentally preferred site in the project EIR and asked for more information why it was not selected." Why wasn't the Andre site on the outskirts of town selected?

Me as LOCSD PIO: Yea, we get asked that question a lot, and we have all kinds of different answers, but the truth is, Andre was just too far out of town for the park. What good's a park in a "sewer-park" if you can't get to it? Right?

That's why we said, "[The Andre site] is 1.5 miles from the edge of the community and would not be able to provide the community with a readily accessible recreational area," in our project report.

In fact, that's why we "rejected" all of the potential sites on the outskirts of town. We also wrote about that in our project report when we said, "The sites on the outskirts of town could not deliver a community use area that was readily accessible to the majority of residents..."

Me asking question: How does the CSD support the 1995 Vision Statement as the source for the "strongly held community value" that the sewer plant also double as a "recreational asset" considering Measures E-97, D-97 and the Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Survey that showed almost zero support for the idea of including a park at the site of the sewer plant?

Me as LOCSD PIO: Excellent question. We support the terribly outdated Vision Statement as the source for the "strongly held community value" that the sewer plant also double as a "recreational asset" because it's the only document around that even remotely shows that that "community value" actually exists, which, as we all know now, does not and, reasonably, never has. (I mean, come on, a park in a sewer plant? What were they thinking?) And, because the first CSD Board -- that included curiously strong parks advocate, Pandora Nash-Karner -- really, really, really wanted a park at the site of the sewer plant, and then have that park dictate the downtown sewer plant location, well, we had to point to something to explain that odd and very expensive decision, and so the Vision Statement it was. By the way, Pandora also helped author that outdated and fluffy document.

Me: Finally, some excellent answers. Thank you!

Me as LOCSD PIO: Thank you.



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