Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Come 2008, Hillary Can Turn to the Current CSD Board for Advice On Failure Mitigation

On a recent public radio talk show, two journalists were discussing Iraq. They were talking about how there is no "elegant way out" of the Iraq mess, and that the best the U.S. can hope for now is to "mitigate failure."

That is the exact same situation Los Osos is in today. There is no "elegant way out." The best the town can hope for now, due to the decisions of the previous administration, is to "mitigate failure."

The only difference, beside the obvious, is that the person that created the mess in Iraq is still in office. Come 2008, Hillary can turn to the current CSD Board for advice on failure mitigation.



  • Ron, aren't you going to blame the RWQCB, the SWRCB and the current CSD at all?

    Don't they each play some role?

    I do see your point that a decision or two back in the 1997-2002 timeframe has had a large influence on the current situation, but most reasonable people would admit that this current board chose to make the situation worse than it already was by their actions.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 4:39 PM, November 02, 2005  

  • The current board is trying to save our town. The in town site will have a fate of disaster upon disaster economically and environmentally. WAKE UP!! And look at the nitrate levels we are actually not polluting. WAKE UP! Do you want to be held in bondage to a sewer for the life of your residency in this town.!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:13 PM, November 02, 2005  

  • Hello Shark,

    You said,

    "... most reasonable people would admit that this current board chose to make the situation worse."

    I'm of the mind that most reasonable people, once they learned the history of the project, would unanimously agree that this current board is cleaning up a huge mess.

    Los Osos came within about 100 votes of having a "ginormous" sewer plant in the middle of town for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It is nearly impossible for the new board to create a situation worse than that.

    Shark, just out of curiosity, how do you answer this question:

    What was the rationale for siting the sewer plant at Tri-W?

    Why there?

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:02 PM, November 02, 2005  

  • If by "save our town" you mean "raise the costs of the sewer so high that the riff-raff need to move out" you are right.

    If you care only about the environment and not one whit about the costs you might be right that another site might be better. On the other hand, the cost of finding the best of all possible worlds site is too high for most of us people.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 9:02 PM, November 02, 2005  

  • So, someone made a huge mess in 1998-2002 and now the cost of cleaning up the mess is much higher than the cost of working around the mess. Why clean it up if it will be less painful to simply learn to live with it? To me it seems foolishness to raise bills from $205/month to, say, $255/month just because you want the plant moved out of town. Some would be willing to pay that much per month, but most of us cannot afford the dang thing at even $205, so to push those higher costs onto the rest of us seems more than a bit selfish by those richy-rich people who are willing to "move the sewer no matter how much it costs". Would you like me to come to your house and start telling you that due to my actions you will have to pay more? I doubt it.

    It is fine to blame the previous board for choosing TriW. They did. There were some extra costs involved because of that choice that was made in 1998-2002. Fine. We should have been watching more carefully back in 1998-2002. Fine. We neglected to make public comment when it would have possibly made a difference. Fine.

    Since then, however, those running the current board (and their friends who file lawsuits and ask for expensive parks to be added back into the project and the like) have only done one thing ... raised my bills.

    If you are standing at the edge of a cliff, would a reasonable person look backwards and say "I think it was a mistake to have walked this far" while stepping over the edge ... or would a reasonable person say "boy it was a mistake to have walked this close: and then stop?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 9:38 PM, November 02, 2005  

  • Right on Shark inlet!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:41 AM, November 03, 2005  

  • Everybody has valid points here. And it seems finally, at least for now, most everybody is in some agreement that unfortunate developments in the past have lead to a pretty crummy current dilemma. Which it now seems in its most reductive state becomes the difference between $205/month and $255/month over 20 years. Hey, nobody likes to pay any more than absolutely necessary for anything. $205 a month isn't chicken feed. And $255 a month is even worse. Both hurt. Elsewhere, in a comment posted to Ann Calhoun's blog, Shark inlet describes it this way: "$45/month extra for some 20 years is an extra $7800 (present value with a 3.5% inflation rate) that I don't want to pay". My calculator doesn't have that button so I'll take her/his word for it. (See note below.) But $7800 over 20 years to greatly influence the very nature of the community doesn't sound quite so odious. If moving the sewer out of town significantly alters the nature and texture of the community in a positive way one can almost rationalize that as a reasonable price to pay. Sure, nobody wants to pay it. It is a burden. But I'm guessing 5, 10, 15 and 20 years down the road not having a sewer serving as both the physical and the symbolic gateway to Los Osos will be worth that extra fee. As realtors always say - location, location, location. Location is the single biggest factor in real estate value. And Los Osos has priceless location. Which is why those who live here live here. Sometimes there is a price to pay for protecting and preserving that which is special. Sometimes ya just gotta pay the price for your little slice of paradise. As Joni Mitchell used to sing way back in the 60's:

    "Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you’ve got
    ‘Til it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot..."

    This ballad has since become a common folksy way to describe shortsighted development. And, more importantly, the loss of something which cannot be regained. While nobody can say the long sordid history of the Los Osos sewer is shortsighted one can say that placing a sewer in the middle of town is a shortsighted investment. Using the same math noted above the expense of an in-town sewer at $205/month projected over 20 years will be $35,500. So we're gonna pay that anyway. Truth be told it will probably be more. Nothing purchased over time is ever as cheap as the salesman/designer/builder says it will be. But we're buying more than just flush toilets here. We're building something we're gonna have to live with for the rest of our lives. Most built development can evolve over time. Tacky houses can be upgraded, updated and charmed. Funky strip malls can be redesigned or torn down. Gas stations, grocery stores, shopping malls and office buildings all have their own re-cycle dynamics. Even city dumps can morph into butterflies. But a sewer is a sewer is a sewer for all time. (At least for all of our time. See: Glen Canyon Dam.)

    The cost of living in Los Osos is going up. That's just a fact and nothing can be done about it now. Decisions were made 30, 20 and 10 years ago which created this situation and it can't be undone. The days of living on septic tanks are over. This isn't about chasing the riff-raff or senior citizens or anybody else who can't pay the fees out of town. Sadly, there will be some for which an additional $45/month will mean they can't afford to live in Los Osos anymore. For them the Tri-W site and its financing package (if it still exists) means the difference between staying or leaving. There will be even more residents for whom an additional levy for *any* sewer project will force them to move. We all wish it weren't so but it is. Simply put, those who stay in Los Osos will be those who create its future. And choosing where to place the sewer and what kind of sewer to place begins to define the nature and texture of the community every bit as much, if not more than, the additional fees be they $205 or $255 per month.

    (Note re: dollar values projected over 20 years. These figures seem a bit low to me but I was out sick the day they covered time value of money and interest over time so I am using Shark inlet's calculations.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:17 PM, November 03, 2005  

  • Nice way of putting it ... $7800 (that the present value of $45/month for 20 years) is not a bad investment in a "nice" community. In fact, that's the best argument I've seen so far for the "move the sewer" crowd. On the other hand, most of those who voted for the recall and for measure B are those who are complaining loudest about the unaffordability of the TriW site. It really looks to me that Gail and Lisa and Julie and the rest simply want to raise the bills until the riff-raff have to move out. I resent their exclusivist attitude.

    By the way, the $250 was a guess based on predictions of inflation rate, how long the project will take to get built, etc. Other scenarios that don't sound unlikely would suggest even $350/month or higher.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 3:34 PM, November 03, 2005  

  • One more thought ... yes, if we're going to have to pay an additional $7800 per household on top of $35000, it doesn't sound like too much more to keep things looking good in this community. On the other hand, that does translate into $250/month rather than $205/month which sounds awfully UNaffordable to me.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. I believe that those who voted against the recall and against Measure B should be allowed to pay the $205/month and that those who support this current board should pay less or more, depending on the ultimate outcome of this matter. This would be fair because those who liked the current plan would be able to fix their costs as they say they want. And those who want the plant out of town and are willing to take a financial risk to move the plant are allowed to take that risk, just like they want ... and they will reap the benefit they want ... a plant outside town ... and whatever costs may be necessary to achieve their goal. (Funny: I just mis-typed that as "gaol" ... maybe I should have left it.)

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 12:51 PM, November 04, 2005  

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