Thursday, January 19, 2006

SewerWatch Calls for Grand Jury Investigation of Early Los Osos CSD



SewerWatch, a Santa Margarita-based blog covering the Los Osos sewer controversy, today will be filing a Citizen Complaint Form with the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury calling for an investigation into the the Los Osos Community Services District Board from 1999-2005.

The complaint alleges that the initial CSD Board of Directors, subsequent Directors up to 2005, and staff members, deliberately misled, from 2000-2005, the County of San Luis Obispo, the California Coastal Commission, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, that a "strongly held community value" exists in Los Osos that any wastewater treatment facility must also double as a "centrally located" "recreational asset."

Evidence shows that the initial CSD Board manufactured that "strongly held community value" in an attempt to coerce regulators into approving the "centrally located" Tri-W site as the location of their second proposed wastewater treatment facility/public park, even though evidence shows there was no rationale to site the second facility at Tri-W.

Evidence also suggests that the initial CSD Board manufactured the "strongly held community value" for "centrally located community amenities" in their second sewer project in an attempt to avoid public embarrassment for their role in their original ill-fated and poorly designed sewer alternative that played a pivotal role in establishing the CSD and getting the initial board elected in November, 1998.

According to its web site, one function of the Grand Jury is to, "investigate local government agencies and officials to form a view as to whether they are acting properly."

A copy of the complaint can be downloaded at:


Time to grab the bull by the horns:

SewerWatch Citizen Complaint Form to the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury (pdf)


  • Go Getem Pardner!!!

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 6:46 PM, January 19, 2006  

  • You The Man!

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 6:56 PM, January 19, 2006  

  • Ron,

    Your complaint is a without merit and a waste of time. Just another of your mindless hysterical witch-hunts.

    But by all means have your little investigation; as it will reveal how wrong you are.

    Regards, Laughing at You

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:34 AM, January 20, 2006  

  • Hello Mike,

    There's really not a lot to update right now. Yesterday, I asked the nice lady that answered the Grand Jury's phone if I could hand-deliver my complaint, and she said that I would have to mail it.

    So, when I said in my press release:
    "...will be filing a Citizen Complaint Form..."

    I guess that actually translated to:
    "... will be mailing a Citizen Complaint Form... "

    but the second one doesn't sound as cool.

    So, they'll just be getting it today.

    The one thing I wasn't expecting was for KSBY to mention me by name every five freaking minutes. There was even a message from their reporter, Andrew Masuda, on my machine when I got home yesterday.

    I want to make something clear here: this isn't about me, or getting my name out there, or getting my face in front of a camera (which will never happen, by the way), this is about getting questions answered that I could not get answered. When government officials will not answer a reporter's bottom-line questions (and let the record reflect, I've been asking these questions for well over a year now, since Three Blocks Upwind of Downtown was published in September, 2004), then the only next step is the County Grand Jury.

    Plus, all I'm asking is that they examine my complaint. If they don't think there's something there, then that's that.

    Anonymous said, "by all means have your little investigation; as it will reveal how wrong you are."

    To tell you the truth, that's all I'm asking for -- is for the Grand Jury to prove me wrong. Where am I wrong?

    Look, if they investigate, and come to the conclusion that there actually is/was a "strongly held community value" in Los Osos to include an expensive park in a very expensive sewer plant, and then have that park dictate an expensive, highly controversial and ESHA-filled downtown location, then I'll admit I was wrong.

    I'm just not seeing that "community value" right now, and I never have, and until I do, I will continue to allege that the previous CSD Board(s) made it up to coerce regulators (successfully, by the way) into signing off on Tri-W for their second project when there was no rationale whatsoever to site their second project at Tri-W. And, until other possible motives are exposed, I also allege that they did it to avoid public humiliation for their Community Plan debacle.

    Where am I wrong? I mean, you guys know your community better than I do. Do you know anyone in Los Osos that "strongly" wants a multi-million dollar park in their multi-multi-million dollar sewer plant, and then have that park dictate an expensive, highly controversial and ESHA-filled downtown location?

    If you do, then I may be wrong.

    Hopefully, the GJ will get the questions answered that I was unable to get answered.

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:05 AM, January 20, 2006  

  • "Your complaint is a without merit and a waste of time. Just another of your mindless hysterical witch-hunts."

    Would you mind sharing with us which part is without merit, and backing it up with fact and not just rhetoric??

    If there is an answer to Ron's question that proves him wrong, which obviously you think there is, could you please share it with us??

    Ron, I hope you can get the Grand Jury to act... one way or another. But I suspect they will avoid this issue and not because it is without merit, but for strictly political reasons.

    If I have learned anything during this sewer fiasco, it is that everything is influenced by politics... the courts, the district attorney, tha boards and commissions, law enforcement, etc.

    Good luck.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:50 AM, January 20, 2006  

  • Ah, Ron, I wish I had half the talent you do for writing.
    The invective of those anons would warm the cockles of my heart if I could create such uproar with such simple truthful questions.
    Kudos to you.
    Here are some observations I would like to contribute.
    Never in the history of Los Osos has a pro- sewer vote been defeated.
    Cheaper Better Faster
    Cheaper but not there
    But never, no sewer
    People will of course dissagree about the details,
    "Los Osos we can't agree about shit"
    A bumpersticker that is going around
    (where can I get one?)
    And some people would argue that the details are all that matter.
    I do not
    As anon #2 lamented

    "Ron, I hope you can get the Grand Jury to act... one way or another. But I suspect they will avoid this issue and not because it is without merit, but for strictly political reasons.

    If I have learned anything during this sewer fiasco, it is that everything is influenced by politics... the courts, the district attorney, tha boards and commissions, law enforcement, etc."

    I would submit that politics has played a larger role in this mess, more than fiscal or engineering concerns.

    Therefore I do not believe that the individual property owner can be punished (fined).
    They have done everything in their power politicaly to address this problem

    I also would make the argument that if the "Water Gods" attempt to fine just one of us, then they would be forced to allow individual solutions in order to come into compliance with the law.

    They are subject (even though it don't seem so sometimes) To our state laws and constitution.

    Thanks for everything

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 5:41 PM, January 20, 2006  

  • Dear Anonymous #1,

    Anonymous #2 has a very good point. Look how much stronger your comment would have been if instead of saying:

    "Your complaint is without merit and a waste of time."

    You would have said:

    "Your complaint is without merit and a waste of time because of these specific reasons..."

    Also, Anon #1, do me a favor. While you're "laughing" at me, please step back and take a good look at the make-up of the CSD Board pre-Three Blocks Upwind of Downtown/SewerWatch and post-Three Blocks Upwind of Downtown/SewerWatch.

    Still laughing?

    - - - - - - - - - - -

    Hopefully I'll have some GJ updates next week. Stay tuned.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:29 AM, January 21, 2006  

  • Often laughter & disdain is a cover for fear and/or ignorance.
    Ron, these punks don't have .02% of your backbone. If anyone can wake those old cronies up at the GJ, it is you and your fine complaint. All respect.

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 7:06 PM, January 21, 2006  

  • Great work Ron! Thanks for doing something many of us should do but are too lazy and/or incompetent. Please keep us posted as this unfolds. Hats off to you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:42 AM, January 22, 2006  

  • Ron,

    As I wrote earlier, have your little party with the Grand Jury.
    I gave no doubt they will find your allegations baseless and mote.

    I claim this with confidence because the past CSD board members, as elected officials, had the right to make the decisions they did based upon what they believed to be "core communty values". The fact that you disagree with their decision or their perceived "core community values" is immaterial; as their only obligation as elected oficials is to render a decision.

    As the issue of what "core community values" are is the crux of complaint, the Grand Jury will see this as entirely subjective and not worthy of their time to investgate.

    Regards, Laughing at You

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:09 PM, January 22, 2006  

  • See, Anon#1, your comments are much better when you actually have takes... as flimsy as those takes may be.

    You said:

    "As the issue of what "core community values" are is the crux of complaint, the Grand Jury will see this as entirely subjective..."

    Does the following look "entirely subjective" to you?

    From my complaint:
    - - - - -

    More evidence of the lack of community support for a park at the treatment facility comes from a LOCSD public opinion study commissioned in 2001 to gage support for the project. The $28,000 scientific study titled, Los Osos Community Services District Wastewater Survey, asked a sample of Los Osos property owners several questions about the project.

    The first question in the study was:

    What is the most important issue that you would like to see local governments in the Los Osos area do something about?

    From a list of answers, respondents answered:
    Open space/park protections — 1%
    Wastewater treatment/septic tanks — 64%

    Another question from that same study asked:

    No matter which way you might be leaning on the wastewater treatment vote, of the statements I just read which one stands out as the best reason why someone should vote FOR this measure?

    From a list of answers, respondents answered:

    Will create park — 7%

    One year after the publication of the CSD opinion survey that showed little support for the inclusion of a park in the plan, a July 24, 2002, California Coastal Commission staff report says, "The Los Osos CSD has evaluated numerous project alternatives and determined that construction of a treatment facility and public park on the Tri-W site would best meet the project’s and the community’s needs."

    Another California Coastal Commission staff report dated, July 29, 2004, says, "... other alternatives (to the Tri-W site) were rejected on the basis that they did not accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities."

    - - - - -

    One more thing Anon #1, I try to keep things civil here in ol' SewerWatch, but as long as you insist on signing your comments to me as:

    Laughing at You

    I will continue to sign my comments to you as,

    5-0, 3-2, 0-5... still laughing?

    So, with that in mind:

    5-0, 3-2, 0-5... still laughing?

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:37 AM, January 23, 2006  

  • Ron,

    I repeat, the elected Board had every right to consider what they believed to be a core value desired by the community at the time; specifically space to accomodate a park. The LOCAC vision statement listed it, as did many community forums and private citizens. There is nothing sinister in their perception of the need for park land; nor was their decision to select a site which would provide it tainted. The entire site selection process was conducted in full view of the public, as were all their site-selection decisions.

    You try to make the case that the need for park land is not wanted by Los Osos; and claim that the failed assessments votes in the late 1990's (The YAP program to provide afterschool services for children, and another to fund a Pool Center)prove this. You forget to mention that the first go around in voting in 1996(?) (pre prop 218), both measures passed with a sizable majority. When these measures had to be revoted due to Prop 218, both measures fell just short of the needed 67.1% required to pass...yet both measures did receive over 60% support in Los Osos.

    The Grand Jury will not take up your complaint to investigate the LOCSD for the simple reason that they, as elected officials, had every right (and responsibilty) to set the criteria used to evaluate and select property for the wastewater project. The value of space for park amenities was heavily weighed on that criertia list (by the way, space for future facility expansion was the least weighted.) Just because you do not like the result of their decision does not make fodder for a Grand jury investigation.

    Another thing Ron, I really do not care if you believe what I write or not. Nor do I see any need to be civil to a hack writer such as yourself who, as you are unable to get a job in any respectable media outlet as a journalist, have resorted to your own fantasy and consiracy-laden world of the SEWERWATCH blog spot. Realy, quite pitifully sad.

    5-0, 3-2, 0-5, DISSOLVED

    Regards, Still Laughing at You

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • Laughing At You ain't nothin but spew. Comforted by lies. Deaf to what is true.
    A regular Pandora's Box of hostility & Spin.

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 4:45 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • dogpatch refugee,

    Want spewed lies deaf to the truth resulting in spin tainted with hatred?.........

    Then read Ron's Blogs.

    Regards, Laughing at You Too

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:57 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • He who laughs last laughs best. Are you just another blamer or are you really just a flamer? Probably just another dReamer idiot afraid of these blogs and politcal sea change that they represent. It is really funny being laughed at by somebody who has their their head so far up their own ass. The resultant muffled sound is quite amusing, it has very dReamlike quality. Maybe you'll choke on your chuckles, what a loss that would be...
    yours in disdain, down in the Dogpatch

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 5:52 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • dogpile......I mean dogpatch

    Silly me. How can I fight an articulate person such as you?

    Easy! I just .....
    Continue to Laugh at You


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:20 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • Damn laughing anon, "Dogpile". Wow, STILL laughing at me?? OOOOooh, did I just get served. Snap.
    Yup down here in da Dogpatch we all are way two art tick qulat for our low stations. Jus guess weezuns jus don no our place. Riff Raff's like that I done guess...
    Oh & your head is STILL way up in your bowels grinning away thinking that your bile is beautiful.

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 10:00 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • Dogpatch,


    Regards, Laughing at You

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:13 PM, January 23, 2006  

  • Am I correct that the laws governing ESHA say that if another patch of land is environmentally better (barring other truly serious impediments, i.e. earthquake fault, flood plain, etc. )it MUST -- not "may" -- MUST be chosen. If that's correct, then I think something went seriously awry here. A vague, clearly un-serious, barely discernable "community value"given as the reason for TRIW should have triggered a serious re-look at the various out of town sites by the various permitting agencies. It didn't, which is a puzzle to me. Why didn't that send red flags up?

    By Blogger Churadogs, at 6:48 AM, January 24, 2006  

  • Ann,

    Because all of Los Osos is ESHA in the same way that TriW is and because the Andre site (or any "out of town" site) is Ag land, there are conflicting mandates. The least damaging site that doesn't reduce Ag land is what must be selected. Because none exists it is a judgement call. The coastal commission staff agreed that TriW was better than Andre. When you consider that the coastal commission is most likely the pickiest state board it would seem that TriW is fine by whatever legal standard is required.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 8:23 AM, January 24, 2006  

  • Hi churadogs,

    In selecting land for the treatment facility, the CSD set up a matrix containing various attributes that were desirable in the site to be reviewed. Each attribute was weighted; with park land being highly weighted, future expansion being less weighted, with issues of ESHA protection, accessibility, etc in between.

    A final list of six sites was reviewed; sites located all over the community and outside of the URL. These sites were reviewed according to the attributes of the matrix, evaluated, weighted and listed in order of final weight. Tri-W rose to the top of the list.

    Interestingly, the law does not require that that the most "environmentally better" property MUST be chosen, nor does the law require that the least expensive property MUST be chosen. The law is written to let each community decide for itself what values it deems to be of importance to the particular community doing the site selection.
    Remember, CEQA is a PROCESS by which ESHA issues are evaluated. CEQA is not a strict standard demanding the absolute preservation of ESH; but one by which numerous issues are balanced against one another. The result then outlines which property is to be chosen, the consequences of selecting a particular site, and methods of mitigating undesirable consequences.

    In closing, the old LOCSD Board had every right during the CEQA process to set up a matrix for site selection that resulted in Tri-W being selected.....just as the new CSD Board has a right to set up a site-selection matrix that excludes park land from the matrix.

    Regards, NOT Laughing at You

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:35 AM, January 24, 2006  

  • People, people, people... Why so mean? Jeeze.

    Please realize that the difference between me and you is that I don't care. I don't live in Los Osos.

    Look, if Los Osos wants to build a sewer plant on top of Carlock's Bakery, I don't care! As long as that's what the community wants, and the CSD Board, in an attempt to cover their tracks, isn't just saying that's what the community wants so they can coerce the Coastal Commission to sign off on building the treatment facility on top of Carlock's Bakery.

    However, when it comes to deliberately misleading powerful State agencies that regulate important legislation like the Coastal Act, and then that deception leads to tens of millions of dollars of wasted STATE AND FEDERAL taxpayer money, thousands upon thousands of wasted people hours, rips apart a beautiful town, and leads to continued water pollution, then I care because it's a great story.

    I'm all about fixing things.

    The biggest hole I see in my GJ argument, is that I'm not entirely sure that it's illegal for an elected government body to lie to the Coastal Commission. If it's not, then I think it's fair to say that that needs to be looked at, and probably changed on the State level. Then we will have fixed something that might prevent a 'Los Osos' from happening in another community. Makes sense, huh?

    Here's something else that makes so much sense to me that might help fix things so this mess doesn't happen in another California community.

    In the SRF Policy it says:

    "... the (SRF) Division will offer assistance at the option of the prospective applicant. The assistance available will include guidance for (1) identifying project alternatives, (2) selecting the cost-effective alternative ..."

    If I could change one thing, one friggin' thing, in the entire Los Osos train wreck, it would be in that one line in the SRF Policy.

    You heard it first here in SewerWatch: That assistance should not be optional!

    In other words, the State should say something like, "Look, if you're going to use the people's money to fund your sewer plant, we are going to tell you the most cost-effective way to go about it."

    If a community wants to build a "drop dead gorgeous" sewer plant that has a centrally located, multi-million dollar park in it, and due to the central location requires multi-millions of dollars more of mitigation when compared to out-of-town sites, then the State could just simply say, "Fine, but not on State and Federal taxpayer's dime. You want all that crap? Then figure out a different funding source other than our sweet SRF deal."

    Talk about making sense.

    By the way, last year I asked SRF officials if the LOCSD ever asked for that free assistance to identify the "cost-effective alternative." They said, "No."

    How's that taste, Los Osos?

    But, I know, I know... I'm a "conspiracy-theory" "hack" that deserves to be laughed at.

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:04 AM, January 24, 2006  

  • Ron said : "However, when it comes to deliberately misleading powerful State agencies that regulate important legislation like the Coastal Act, and then that deception leads to tens of millions of dollars of wasted STATE AND FEDERAL taxpayer money, thousands upon thousands of wasted people hours, rips apart a beautiful town, and leads to continued water pollution, then I care because it's a great story."
    Yes it is. Some out there scared that it might get told sooner rather than later. Almost as if this sort of journalism has a legitmate role in political process? Historically speaking, that is. These are different days, of course.

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 12:49 PM, January 24, 2006  

  • Look,
    What Ron has done is benefiting everybody,
    I think he has raised valid questions, they should be answered.
    Some of what he asks is the root of many of our problems to date.
    Ron said:

    "The biggest hole I see in my GJ argument, is that I'm not entirely sure that it's illegal for an elected government body to lie to the Coastal Commission. If it's not, then I think it's fair to say that that needs to be looked at, and probably changed on the State level."

    Kind of makes you wonder about the whole "Ponds Of Avalon" thing, don't it?

    Who, dose it matter that you lie too?
    just wondering

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 8:15 PM, January 24, 2006  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 8:27 PM, January 24, 2006  

  • Churadogs said...
    "Am I correct that the laws governing ESHA say that if another patch of land is environmentally better... it MUST -- not "may" -- MUST be chosen... Why didn't that send red flags up?"

    Correct Ann, but not only did the old CSD concoct the "strongly held community value" like Ron is pointing out, but they lied to the Coastal Commission about feasble alternative locations.

    The Coastal Commission said, in accordance with the Coastal Act and CEQA regulations, that the ONLY way they would allow the destruction of ESHA would be if it was the only alternative. So the CSD had to lie about Andre being infeasable or the Coastal Commission would have never allowed Tri-W. This is probably the most important point that come out of the Coastal Commission hearings.

    Unfortunately the Coastal Commission didn't have the backbone to stand behind that when they had the chance to. Regardless of all the commissioner's comments about being misled and lied to by the old CSD, they were just tired of the Los Osos sewer and tried to put it to bed... too bad. Once again they became part of the problem instead of part of the solution. See you soon Coastal Commission.

    As for Shark Inlet... where did he get his info from?? I've seen some wild stuff from him, but this takes the cake. What a complete mistatement of the truth. Starting to sound like Pandora...

    Shark Inlet said...

    "Because all of Los Osos is ESHA in the same way that TriW is"

    Not true... there are non-ESHA areas of Los Osos, and there are more pristine ESHA areas than Tri-W... like the Broderson site. When you over simplify you lose credibility.

    "the Andre site (or any "out of town" site) is Ag land, there are conflicting mandates."

    Andre is non-prime ag land and in no way can be compared to most of the other land in the Los Osos Valley. To mislead people into thinking Andre is not feasable due to it being Ag land is truly mistating the facts and more of the same of what we got from the old CSD.

    "The least damaging site that doesn't reduce Ag land is what must be selected."

    ESHA over non-prime ag land... who are you kidding.

    "The coastal commission staff agreed that TriW was better than Andre."

    NOT TRUE... are you dillusional?? Did you even watch the hearings??

    The policies and procedure that are in place to guide a community to a proper decision depend on truth and full disclosre of the facts. People like Shark Inlet are very dangerous. And if we dont flush out the lies very aggressively this time around, they will again taint the process.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 AM, January 25, 2006  

  • Great post Anonymous #3 or #4(?). Excellent information on the Coastal Commission.

    It's crystal clear. The evidence is overwhelming, and it's everywhere you look. The Coastal Commission was lied to about the rationale for the Tri-W siting in 2001-02. The question now is, "Can an elected government body do that with impunity?"

    Does anyone know the answer to that?

    If they can, then what's the point of the Coastal Act? For God's sake, someone, somebody, some agency somewhere needs to look into this or it will happen again in another California community. Once communities get wind that they can lie to the Coastal Commission with impunity, thus rendering the Coastal Act moot, we'll have condos on the sand spit, an amusement park atop Morro Rock, and thousands of off-road vehicles ripping around a beautiful central coast beach (oh wait, that last one is actually happening).

    Something is obviously broke, and it needs to be fixed.

    On a quick aside, I love how one of my favorite all-time sewer quotes play into all of this. It comes from Coastal Commissioner, Dave Potter, when he called the CSD, "a little bait-and-switchy," in 2004. (I just can't get enough of that quote. It's so good and so accurate.)

    See, when the previous CSD board lied to the Coastal Commission that the citizens of Los Osos demanded a multi-million dollar park in their multi-multi million dollar sewer plant so the CSD Board could cover their tracks by having that park dictate an expensive, environmentally sensitive and highly controversial site, the problem was that the ol' CSD Board had no money to actually pay for that park. So, as soon as they tricked the CC into signing off on Tri-W in 2002, the old Board ripped the park out of the plan almost entirely.

    Then, two years later, when they had to go back to get their development permit and the elaborate park wasn't in the plan anymore, Potter was none too happy. Bright guy, that Potter. God, I love 'im... "bait-and-sitchy"... great.

    I wrote about all of that here.

    For the sake of my story, I kind of miss that ol' board.

    This new CSD Board -- I'll tell ya -- with all their fanchy-shmancy innovative and brilliant ideas like incorporating Instant Run-off Voting into Measure B so they can find a real "community value" to solve the town's wastewater problems.

    Why, that's no fun to cover.

    Let's see here... "brilliant and innovative" or "deliberately misleading the Coastal Commission." I know this is the kind of stuff that gives journalism a bad name, but when it comes to piquing my interest, I've got to go with the latter on that one.

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:50 AM, January 25, 2006  

  • Ron, where are you when I need you to come to my defense?

    Dangerous? Lies?

    Surely you see these matters as areas where one can have opinions?

    You can read my response to this anonymous post over at Ann Calhoun's blog where it was cross-posted. Apologies for sending you over there, but I just saw it here and don't want to bother all of you with replying twice to the exact same comments from our anonymous friend.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 2:04 PM, January 25, 2006  

  • Don't worry, Shark, I've got your back.

    Despite your magic calculator and your worn out keyboard, I kinda like you because you don't sign your comments, "Regards, Laughing at You," and you're polite with an occasional good take, so you're always welcome here. Although, I have to admit, Shark, you need to tighten up some of your facts.

    For example, you said, "The coastal commission staff agreed that TriW was better than Andre."


    You know what you should do, Shark? You should call Steve Monowitz at the Coastal Commission, like I have, and ask him what he thinks of your quote.

    The CC practically begged them to move it off Tri-W. They even sent the CSD a letter noting that the Andre site was identified as the "environmentally preferred" site, and wanted to know "why it wasn't selected." The CC never got an answer to that question.

    Ann makes a great, great point about the "Andre" site in her blog. The "Andre site" is one, one specific site out of town, and, yes, there are deed restrictions from PGE on that one site that would make building a sewer plant there next to impossible (interestingly, and in yet another SewerWatch exclusive, in 2001, when the CSD Board "rejected" the "Andre" site because it "did not meet the project objective of centrally located community amenities," documents show they didn't know those deed restrictions existed, obviously, or why would they have included it as an alternative site in the first place?).

    So, every time the "Andre" site comes up, everyone starts whining about the deed restrictions. But has anyone ever looked at a tract map out there, like I have? There are potential sites all over the place. It is vitally important to this discussion, it must happen, that we either make the word "Andre" synonymous with "out-of-town site," or we stop using it altogether and substitute instead the phrase, "out-of-town sites."

    If people believe, like the previous board led everyone to believe, that the only site out of town is "Andre," and that that site has deed restrictions, well, we'll never get anywhere. We'll just keep spinning in circles... just the way the previous board(s) designed it.

    Now, with all that said (I'm already running over the 20-minutes I'm willing to devote to this a day), Shark, you said:

    "They (the CC) saw no compelling reason to choose "Andre II" (then the "best" alternative site) over TriW."

    That's the kind of crap that made me shut down the comments section on this blog in the run-up to the election.

    "They saw no compelling reason to choose "Andre II" (then the "best" alternative site) over TriW?"

    Are you kidding me, Shark? That is such an important aspect to this entire story, and you mangled it badly, and then posted it on my blog. That's why I can kind of understand Anonymous' "dangerous" remark.

    The main reason the CC "saw no compelling reason to choose "Andre II" " is because they were lied to by the CSD in 2001-02.

    I assume you're referring to that wildly inaccurate Andre vs. Tri-W comparison that MWH popped out, when you say, "saw no compelling reason to choose "Andre II" ."

    That expensive study, and this is so important, concluded that there did not appear to be an "economic incentive to relocate." That didn't even come close to answering the CC's excellent and brilliant question: "Why wasn't the "environmentally preferred," substantially cheaper, out-of-town site, selected in the first place?"

    They never got that question answered. Unbelievable. Just disgusting. (God, I miss that old Board, for my story's sake, of course.)

    You know, if you read my Grand Jury complaint carefully, all I'm trying to do is get the CC's excellent question answered that they were unable to get answered in 2004.

    Shark, another thing you do that bugs the hell out of me is blame that ridiculous and Tri-W-dictating park on Julie Tacker. That is grossly unfair. When you do stuff like that, as Anonymous points out, you do start to sound like Nash-Karner. I realize that's harsh criticism, but if you want to avoid it, please make sure your takes are tight before you post them here.

    Other than that, keep 'em comin'. I appreciate your voluminous input. You and your calculator are always welcome here.

    Back to work ; -)

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:14 AM, January 26, 2006  

  • Awesome response Ron! I would like to hear what Shark has to was bugging me how he always skips over the fact that the CC didn't like Tri-W (along with lots and lots of other folks). Keep up the good work and let us know how the GJ thing is going.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • Ron,

    I'll get back to you more on a few details later but the reason I say that the CCC staff thought TriW was better than "Andre" is found in (See the last sentence in the top paragraph of page 2.)

    The document was dated 2002 (honestly, I thought it was dated 2004 ... go figure) and the CCC staff may have changed their opinion. As far as I can tell from the Steve Monowitz memo of 2004 where he asks for additional review it doesn't seem that they are opposed to TriW, per se, just that they want more justification for the site. I don't know why they wrote that comment but it doesn't appear to be based on financial considerations or on the MWH memo. Wish I knew.

    If you've had coversations with Steve or if you have solid evidence that the CCC staff reversed their 2002 position, I would love to hear about it.

    As to whether Julie is to blame for the park, I'll take this up in a future reply (sort of busy just now) but you are right. In part I was reacting to folks who refer to the TriW park as "Pandora's Park" with disdain. I was trying to point out that it was a large set of events across a long time that led to the park being required by the CCC and paid for out of the SRF loan. I'll look into that issue more, but my memory says Julie asked for the park back.

    In any case, most all of these issues involve opinion. Nearly everything cited as a "fact" by anyone in this debate seems to be based on an interpretation. As an example, you say that the CSD lied to the CCC. Having read your argument, it is possible that the CSD lied to the CCC but it seems more likely to me that they didn't lie, per se, but that you are reading a deliberate attempt to mislead into their actions.

    More later as I am sort of ... um ... busy now.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 6:41 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • Ron said: "Shark, another thing you do that bugs the hell out of me is blame that ridiculous and Tri-W-dictating park on Julie Tacker. That is grossly unfair. When you do stuff like that, as Anonymous points out, you do start to sound like Nash-Karner. I realize that's harsh criticism, but if you want to avoid it, please make sure your takes are tight before you post them here."
    The nail, hit squarely, on the head...& it ain't just once but continuously. Disrespecting Director Tacker that way along with endless cynical misstatements & spins invites total disregard for inlet's rare good point (which does happen, once every 2000-3000 words or so...) But truth finding is not the goal of propaganda, & while I continue to hold that Inlet's primary goal is disinformation, he/she can be differentiated from "Laughing Anon" who appears to be a real Brown Shirt punkass

    By Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee, at 7:14 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • Ron,

    On whether the CCC was lied to by the LOCSD as to the possible alternatives,
    (this time, a document dated 2005) says toward the bottom of page 3 that the CCC finding in 2002 (and 2004) that TriW is preferred to Andre because it is "more protective of coastal resources ... to allow construction at the proposed location than to cause delays that would be associated with further consideration of alternative sites." They conclude that paragraph with a statement that you might want to make note of in light of your call for a grand jury investigation. "There is no evidence to support the theory that the Commission was misled to believe that there were not feasible alternatives."

    From another CCC document (see page 28 where the indented text in italics reads in part) "Although the Andre site may avoid direct impacts to ESHA as a result of treatment plant construction ... Impacts to ESHA would not be completely avoided by locating the treatment plant at this site as the collection and distribution system running to and from this location would require crossing of Los Osos Creek. Thus it is not clear that the Andre site provides either a feasible, or environmentally preferable alternative to the Tri-W site."

    If Steve tells you otherwise or if you can find documents that show this CCC memo to be a lie, great. Otherwise I'll just stick with my contention that the CCC staff agreed with the LOCSD that the TriW site was preferable to an out of town location.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 9:27 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • As to the question about whether Julie Tacker is to blame for the park being added back to the project ... I think that a careful read of Ron's "Bait-n-switchy" article and the text in the CCC staff report (see the bottom of page 28 and the top of page 29) it makes it very clear that it was CCLO (at that point in time, Julie was heading up CCLO) who argued that the permit to develop TriW should be revoked because of the "reduction in public amenities as conflicting with the premise that a downtown location is required to serve community needs." In the next paragraph it points out CCLO objected to the fact that the LOCSD dropped the tot lot and amphitheater (and other features) to save costs. Let's get this straight once and for all.

    My contention here is that CCLO asked to have the development permit revoked because there was no tot lot. Certainly this was not because CCLO wanted the tot lot but because they wanted to stall the TriW development or to get the CCC to force the plant to move elsewhere. However, what is sort of telling from reading the CCC staff documents is that they strongly agreed with the RWQCB who essentially said "delay is bad ... continued pollution is bad ... moving forward with TriW is better than doing yet another feasibility study which will stall the process even more." CCLO knew this was the staff contention and that because of this, if the CCC ruled in their favor, it would not be to force the sewer out of town but at best to force the LOCSD to redesign the TriW project to put the tot lot back in. What can I conclude? Only that Julie who equaled CCLO at this point in time wanted to stall the project and that this argument over the tot lot being removed was just a delay tactic.

    I wish I could get the video archive from that coastal commission meeting (it's not on anymore ... if anyone knows how to get a copy of the video I would be much obliged) and from KSBY where Julie was interviewed following the meeting. I remember her bragging about how they delayed the sewer. However, memories can be faulty.

    Perhaps while the park could be called "Pandora's Park", we ought to call the sandbox "Tacker's Tot Lot" or some such.

    Ron, if you or Dogpatch (or anyone else for that matter) want to dispute my interpretation of the documents, I would love to discuss it. To me it seems quite clear ... Julie was willing to drive up the TriW costs as a way of stalling the project.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 10:37 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • To dogpatch.

    When you write "truth finding is not the goal of propaganda, & while I continue to hold that Inlet's primary goal is disinformation" I am offended.

    I cannot prove to you my intentions. I can only say that I value truth finding over spin. This is one of the key reasons that I rail so much against what some people write. As you've pointed out (as has Ann), oversimplification tends to create problems. I would like to believe that reasonable people can see the other viewpoint in most any discussion of a controversial issue. If you feel that I am being unfair, call me on it. But please be specific (as Ron did above) because otherwise we cannot head toward a common understanding. If you just call me Goebbels and leave at that belittles both you and me.

    This is all to say, I'm open to criticism. If I've made mistakes or overstatements I would rather someone let me know so I can correct them.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 11:00 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • Shark, all those words, and if this one line:

    "There is no evidence to support the theory that the Commission was misled to believe that there were not feasible alternatives."

    would have read:

    "There is no evidence to support the theory that the Commission was misled into believing that there was a "strongly held community value" in Los Osos to include a multi-million dollar public park in a multi-multi million dollar sewer plant, and then have that expensive park dictate a very expensive, ESHA-filled, highly controversial, downtown sewer plant site."

    ... then you would have actually contributed to this conversation and punched a hole in my GJ argument... still not seeing a hole (well, other than the fact that I'm not entirely sure that it is illegal for an elected governmental body to lie to the Coastal Commission. That might indeed be legal. If it is, that probably needs to be fixed. Wouldn't you say?)

    Please focus. It's actually quite simple: If you have a "project objective" for "centrally located community amenities," then there can't be feasible, out-of-town alternatives.

    Wait a friggin' minute, here... looking at that line I just wrote... something profound just occurred to me.

    Follow me on this.

    If the CC says:

    ""There is no evidence to support the theory that the Commission was misled to believe that there were not feasible alternatives."

    And if there can't be feasible out-of-town alternatives because the "strongly held community value" for "centrally located community amenities" automatically makes out-of-town sites infeasible, then there is evidence "to support the theory that the Commission was misled."

    It's all in my GJ complaint! Tons of it! They were just never told about it. Oh my God, I'm right (as usual). The CC was misled. (Too bad CCLO didn't have me around when they were going for that Development Permit Revocation in 2005. They had the right idea, just the wrong arguments.)

    The Coastal Commission was never told about the LOCSD's own 2001 Public Opinion Survey that showed almost zero support for that "community value." The CC was never told about Measures E-97 and D-97 that showed that Los Osos taxpayers didn't want to pay for public recreation anywhere in Los Osos, let alone a multi-million dollar park in a sewer plant. The CC was told that the source of that "community value" was the 1995 Vision Statement, according to former CSD General Manager, Bruce Buel, but the Vision Statement doesn't show that "community value" anywhere! The evidence is overwhelming -- the old CSD Board(s) manufactured that "community value," and used it to coerce the CC into signing off on Tri-Dub for their second project because there was absolutely no other rationale whatsoever to site their second facility at Tri-Dub... and they were desperate to keep it there... for whatever reasons -- reasons that only a GJ investigation would reveal.

    If Commissioner Potter got wind of that paragraph I just wrote, I can almost guarantee you that he'd be fuming, and who could blame him? I'm going to try and get a hold of him soon and ask him about that evidence. I'd be VERY interested in hearing his takes on that. All of a sudden, he would understand why the CSD was, in his great and accurate words, "bait-and-switchy."

    Los Osos, you got screwed, badly, and the GJ really needs to look into my complaint, or a 'Los Osos' will happen somewhere else in California. It's that simple.

    Thanks for digging up that info, Shark. That really helped. Finally, things are beginning to square up and make sense.

    By Blogger Ron, at 12:05 PM, January 27, 2006  

  • Don't get me wrong, Ron. I am not arguing that there is a huge hole in your grand jury argument that this one document has created. I was just thinking that you might want to read that part of the CCC document because it seems to relate to the issue you raised the ... the CCC didn't (in 2005) think that they were misled on the specific item the CCLO says the LOCSD lied about.

    I still think that the key point here is that at one point in time TriW seemed to be better for a whole variety of reasons. Unfortunately the park was included in the site selection "matrix" so it appears to some that it was the park that carried the day. I still think that TriW would likely have won out as the best spot because of other considerations.

    Bait-n-switchy? Come on. The CCC staff report responding to the CCLO complaint (you know, "hey, they took out our tot lot, that's not right") pointed out that park-like things haven't really changed since the project was originally approved. Julie's argument wasn't that strong. Unfortunately the CCC voted to stop any movement on the TriW project based on strong CCLO member presence at the meeting. I remember from the TV news and newspaper a comment from one of the commissioners along the lines of "well, if you really want to delay the project and are willing to pay more to do it..." I remember the event because I was screaming at my TV in response. No, we don't want to have to delay things and pay more. We want to get the plant done as cheaply as possible. We want to stop polluting the environment.

    Ron, I like you. You've got a reasonable take on the situation. I happen to disagree and here is why. I think that my set of concerns (money, pollution, etc.) are also important than yours (whether the LOCSD lied about the community need for a park and whether a park is really a necessary part of the project). Even if you are right about lies on the part of the former boardmembers it would seem that the need to stop polluting and to get it done as cheap as possible should outweigh the park/no park issue.

    In any case, by the time 2002 rolled around the CCC was clear. Moving forward at TriW is better is likely far better for the environment than yet another study. If you can provide a compelling case that the CSD knew before then that Andre (or anywhere) was better with regard to items on the site selection criteria list (other than the park) or even that other sites are more likely to be a feasible location, you've got a good argument that someone lied just to get a park. Sounds like Pandora's sort of thing ... "and we'll get a park, too."

    Let us know if you can dig up anything that shows the CSD knew in 2000 that another site was better, not just possible.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 1:48 PM, January 27, 2006  

  • We should have been told any and all sites that were possible. Obviously "better" is subjective, and based on the results of the recall, just as many folks think an out of town site is better! People in this community were demanding that the alternatives be revealed and discussed with the public FOR YEARS!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:54 PM, January 27, 2006  

  • Here's the problem, anonymous, the people who voted for the recall and Measure B to put the plant out of town were not given a clear picture by Al, Lisa, Julie and those running for the recall.

    The alternatives were revealed and discussed years ago. Anyone who wanted to go to the meetings way back in the last century knew about the sites they were considering, their plusses and minuses.

    Back when the siting decision was made there was thorough discussion of the entire issue. It is only because CCLO and a few others felt the decision was wrong that we're in this argument today. CCLO folks have pushed relentlessly against TriW for years. Unfortunately they've not yet been able to identify any site that is preferable to TriW in every way, just some sites that might be preferable to TriW in some ways.

    To argue that we should revisit the issue again because the majority wants to move the plant is to argue that we ought to pay more and continue to pollute just to study the location yet again.

    I do like the notion that the new board wants to try to make the discussion of alternatives even more public than the previous board, but I resent the fact that they've already rejected the site that may very well be best and most certainly will be the least expensive and quickest to build (and so will reduce pollution the soonest).

    Perhaps once the feasibility and cost studies are done in a few years we'll know "for sure" what is best. Perhaps they'll reach the same conclusions that the earlier feasibility studies have reached.

    How often must the wheel be re-invented in Los Osos before we can use one? In this case, with delay costing us and our environment it seems that taking another two years to invent yet another wheel will be a huge mistake.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 10:54 PM, January 27, 2006  

  • I hear what you're saying, Shark. You make alot of sense. I understand why there are two camps here...two different perspectives. I feel as if we've come full circle, in a way. We voted (pretty strongly, I remember, was it 87%?) for a ponding system in 1998. There was overwhelming support for that project. Things got way off track as we know, and we ended up with something entirely different. Now we have a chance (if people would get behind it) to have what we voted for originally. And better yet we have an opportunity to put it in a more appropriate location. And how is it a mistake to get a better project in the long run? One that incorporates water recycling, for example, and one that may get some of that heavy water out of Broderson where it would be sitting RIGHT ABOVE MY HOUSE!? Faster and cheaper is not necessarily better for the long haul. I'd rather go for a new plan and perhaps, for once, Los Osos could have an example of good planning instead of the usual "victims of poor planning" that we seem to be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:16 AM, January 28, 2006  

  • I hear you, anonymous.

    The problem is that when we voted for the CSD we thought we were voting for the fancy ponding system and park that would solve our problems. The problem is that this is not what the ballot said. The Solutions group told us what they wanted to do and we bought in. The problem is that the RWQCB would not approve of partial sewering of our community and the ponding system originally proposed. Ron has even given us reason to believe that the Solutions Group should have known their plan would not pass muster.

    In any case, they persisted for a few years until they were told directly "no way."

    Once they needed to change plans and plant design it was too late to change locations. Of course Ron and some others would argue that it wasn't, but from a financial and time to completion (read "pollution") point of view, it was too late.

    Here's the rub. We don't have the opportunity to get what we voted for originally. The new board has said they will not permit a TriW location and the RWQCB has said they will not agree with the ponding system. Whatever happens it will not be anywhere near close to what we thought we were voting for in 1998.

    If you want another location ... fine. Just please admit that it will end up costing a whole hell of a lot more. If the people who argue for "out of town" were just honest that we'll end up paying more and that individuals may face increased costs (from pumping, for example) for years until we get the new location, I would be happy. The problem I had with the most recent election wasn't so much the outcome as the fact that those pushing for the out of town location were not honest with us about the costs.

    As to the disposition of the Broderson property, I suspect that pretty much any plan will include some facility at that location for recharge of the aquifer (which will help us with nitrates and help stem the saltwater intrusion we're facing).

    Ron has some things right in this blog ... the solutions group screwed some things up. The problem with voting them out and putting in a new batch is that we've voted in another group that will screw things up and increase our costs yet again.

    As I keep saying, the best way to clean up some messes is to learn to live with them or to work around them. If we obsess on cleaning up all the messes, we'll end up spending far more money than if we just live with our mistakes.

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 12:25 PM, January 28, 2006  

  • I hear you, Shark. Thank you for a thoughtful, nonconfrontational, and polite response. I think you are right about much of this...I just really hate the currently designed project, for reasons which we both probably agree on. I think a new design and location may end up costing more, but until I see some figures, I won't just assume that's the case. Why do you think the water boards will turn down ponds again? Wasn't that because they were going to be placed at Tri-W? There are lovely ponding systems all over California. They are unobtrusive, attract birds and marsh plants, and are much less expensive to operate. Have you seen what they have done in Petaluma?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:24 PM, January 28, 2006  

  • The reason the RWQCB said ponding was not okay was that there is not a proven track record of ponding systems reducing the nitrates (one thing we need to recharge the aquifer in a way that will reduce the nitrates in the aquifer).

    I like the ponding idea. I think it would likely work okay. The problem is that the RWQCB will likly fine us if the nitrate levels don't drop after we put in a ponding system. If we put in the MBR system they prefer and the nitrates don't drop they won't fine us the same way.

    If you want a breakdown of the costs we'll likely need to wait until the CSD tells us. (I guess we'll also have to hope the present us a fair cost comparrison, something I doubt will happen.)

    When I've tried to look at the numbers the problem with any out of town plant doesn't seem to be the plant itself, but the costs associated with the additional time needed before any construction could start. TriW took about 7 years to get started. Arguably, any out of town site will take at least five years before construction. The inflation in construction costs will make the new project far more expensive. Suppose that the project, if ready for construction today would cost only $120M ($70M for the collection system and $50M for the plant ... reasonable sounding estimates). After five years of inflation (assuming 5% per year which is perhaps a bit conservative) puts the bill at $153M. If we can get a low interest loan we're in about the same position as before if the bids don't come in over estimated. If we can't get a low interest loan it's another $70 in interest payments added immediately. Oh yeah, we also get to pay to design the new plant, pay for the EIR and various lawsuits and whatever fines happen to hit us.

    As for getting a SRF loan, this board's choice to default on the previous loan and sue the SWRCB will probably make a new SRF loan less likely.

    So, if everything goes the best possible way and if there are no unexpected costs we'll end up paying about what TriW would have cost us. Honestly, when you consider how likely that is to occur it would seem that our costs will end up much higher.


    Not much we can do about the past ... but what about the future? One question we're now facing is whether we should dissolve the CSD. Another unknown is whether the CSD board will be willing to allow a TriW plant if aspects of Measure B that would appear to preclude Measure B would be struck down.


    All I do know is that this new board has made decisions that, to me, seem really really foolish and costly.

    Don't know about Petaluma. Do they have a nitrate problem?

    By Blogger Shark Inlet, at 3:06 PM, January 28, 2006  

  • There currently IS NOT a proven track record or there WAS NOT a proven track record back then? I honestly don't know, do you? It is an important question, I think. I know that Petaluma is developing (currently under construction) an oxidation ditch system with polishing ponds. Do a google search for Petaluma Wastewater and all kinds of info. will come up. Granted they appear to have lots of space and lots of support, which we don't have. But it looks to me to be a community where they know how to do things right. Major focus on water recycling, for example. I don't know about nitrates there, but I do know they have received funding from the Coastal Conservancy and other groups because they have such an eco-friendly, well-planned design.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:44 PM, January 28, 2006  

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