Monday, January 18, 2010

Oh, the Irony: SewerWatch Doesn't Care About the Los Osos Sewer Project

As if it matters, but, I'd like to take a couple of minutes to clear up what I think might be a misconception (and also make my "at least weekly" quota):

I don't care about the Los Osos sewer project... at all.

I couldn't care less what sewer project Los Osos builds, or even IF they build one. I simply don't care.

Other than Ann Calhoun's great blog, and here at SewerWatch, I don't post anywhere else on this subject... BECAUSE I don't care. [Quick note: If you happen to read an anonymous comment on another web site, involving Los Osos, and you think it's me, it's not. I know bringing that up sounds a little weird, but you'd be surprised how often I hear that, so I want to address it. To be clear, I don't care enough about the Los Osos sewer project to post anywhere else.]

What I DO care about is the amazing Los Osos sewer project story, and, more specifically, MY amazing Los Osos sewer project story -- the one I've been covering since 1990, and, even more on point, the specific story I've been covering since 2004, when I first exposed, in a New Times cover story, how the local Los Osos government was building a wildly unpopular, multi-million dollar sewer plant in the middle of town, yet there was no documentable reason -- no "substantial evidence" -- whatsoever for why they were doing that, and, right now, today, in 2010, that 2004 story, remarkably, is 100-percent relevant, and still totally unresolved.

[That leaves me shaking my head. It took five years, a successful recall election, State legislation, and three years worth of County analysis, to finally show that Three Blocks was 100-percent right, just like I knew all along, and now, no government official will admit it!

"It is not necessary to bury the truth. It is sufficient merely to delay it until nobody cares."
-- Attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte]

So, basically (and, yes, this probably sounds a little cold), but, all I'm interested in these days is getting my 6-year-old story resolved -- That lazy government officials failed to do their job, and, because they failed to do their job, they approved an illegal public works project in 2003/4, and then that led to massive delays in implementing that project, and, now, those same State agencies, instead of admitting they f-d up, are now prosecuting innocent people due to the delays associated with them approving an illegal project, and those State agencies now know, due exclusively to my reporting, that those people are innocent, yet, they're still going to continue with their enforcement, using lawyers from the Attorney General's office, in an effort to deflect the blame away from the lazy State agencies.

The story is amazing, and its amazing-ness has absolutely nothing to do with the nuts-and-bolts of a sewer project, and EVERYTHING to do with lazy government agencies not doing their job, and then that leading to tens -- if not hundreds -- of millions of dollars in public funds going down the drain, and, in the process, ripping the community fabric of a small town into tiny, little, itsy-bitsy shreds, and, also, what happens when the media falls asleep, and simply turns into a bullhorn for agenda-driven types.

One beautiful, universal theme after another is found in this great story.

So to summarize, I don't care about the Los Osos sewer project... at all.

I only care about the Los Osos sewer project story, and resolving the things that I first exposed, using original reporting. (I mean, c'mon, can you blame me?)

Things like:

"Bait and switchy":

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2007/08/to-paraphrase-ann-calhoun-paraphrasing.html

Fake "strongly held community values"/"Statement of Overriding Considerations":

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-slo-county-governments-laziness.html

Innocent people being prosecuted by State attorneys, when those State attorneys NOW know those people are innocent

Behavior-based-marketing, and its dramatic impacts:

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2007/05/she-is-los-osos.html

One government agency after another getting lazy, and allowing themselves to be "Jedi mind-tricked" BY behavior-based-marketing :

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2007/05/she-is-los-osos.html

Two people -- a husband and wife team -- starting a new government agency using a fabricated, "better, cheaper, faster" sewer "project," just so they could make money off of that new government agency, and, in the process, rip a town to shreds, and not give a flip:

http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/exclusive-sewerwatch-investigation-how.html

THAT's what motivates me today, to finally get all of that original, beautiful, time-stamped reporting resolved. (Well, that, AND making my "at least weekly" quota.)

But, STEP/STEG? Pipe diameter? Treatment process?

I really, really don't care... and never have.

###

[Three weeks down... 49 to go.]

24 Comments:

  • Always cracks me up when someone pleads that you are one sided and myopic because you don't write about the LO sewer wars after the recall election.
    Why should he? I always reply, what he has written is great!
    Agree or not with your take, very few can substantially refute your observations.
    Hey, I think I'm gonna reply on every post, maybe I'll get a Pulitzer footnote!

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 7:34 PM, January 18, 2010  

  • "So, basically (and, yes, this probably sounds a little cold), but, all I'm interested in these days is getting my 6-year-old story resolved -- That lazy government officials failed to do their job, and, because they failed to do their job, they approved an illegal public works project in 2003/4, and then that led to massive delays in implementing that project, and, now, those same State agencies, instead of admitting they f-d up, are now prosecuting innocent people due to the delays associated with them approving an illegal project, and those State agencies now know, due exclusively to my reporting, that those people are innocent, yet, they're still going to continue with their enforcement, using lawyers from the Attorney General's office, in an effort to deflect the blame away from the lazy State agencies."


    You're a journalist and are skilled in choosing the right word but it's a disappointment to read the expletive word in the above sentence knowing that you could've chosen a better word but lapsed into using (I'm also trying to make this sentence as long as the above sentence but I'm running out of breath. :0

    Just a suggestion since you're trying for a Pulitzer and maybe they are people who like to read something well written but maybe they are more like today's people who don't read at all and it wouldn't matter to anyone but myself).

    What ever happened to the 45 people's lawsuit that was supposed to go to court last Fall?


    The people of Los Osos VOTED to put a sewer at that site Tri W. The reason the sewer arrived at that location is because the people voted to put it there. Then after the switch in type of sewer plant, a new group formed and got half the town to vote to move it from that location--the very location that they had just voted to use for the sewer. The people of Los Osos don't need an engineer, they need a psychiatrist; they are soooo conflicted. "They're nuts, they're nuts, they know nothing!!." (Jim Cramer's Mad Money).

    The sewer war continues because of that feature embedded in the residents of Los Osos. Why should the Coastal Comission look their way? They gave them the chance that they had asked for and then another group (Tacker) arose and wants to do something else.
    And where were all those people when the C.C. let them choose the Tri W site? Where were all the appeals like now? All the appeals shows that this project is no good.
    And quite frankly,there doesn't have to be a sewer at all.
    Where are all the millions coming from that has funded these many attempts starting from the County's initial project, add the Solution's group's expenditure plus the current concept? What is the total? Now, there's a story for your blog next week. Where's there's money, there's

    By Blogger Commentary, at 8:54 PM, January 18, 2010  

  • "The people of Los Osos VOTED to put a sewer at that site Tri W. The reason the sewer arrived at that location is because the people voted to put it there."
    Bullcrap!
    No they voted for a cheaper sewer, the county plan at that time was 90/ month the solution group touted 38.50 a month.
    It's the economy stupid!
    Every time a CHEAPER sewer came up on the ballot IT WON!
    Don't try to rewrite history, It always falls flat.
    Just like Ron noticed in the CC website.
    If you held a General Election right now and published in the voter pamphlet that you had a sure fire "plan" to build the sewer at TriW for 50/month IT WOULD WIN.
    It's the economy stupid.
    again and again and again.
    That is why I don't blame Ron at all for not caring.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 9:22 PM, January 18, 2010  

  • "Bullcrap!
    No they voted "


    THEY VOTED that is the key phrase. They voted, yes, for a cheaper sewer AND they didn't protest the site of this so-believed cheaper sewer. They didn't protest the site. They voted for it, the whole deal. The town was united and gleefull.



    "for a cheaper sewer, It's the economy stupid!
    Every time a CHEAPER sewer came up on the ballot IT WON!
    Don't try to rewrite history, It always falls flat.



    Just like Ron noticed in the CC website.
    If you held a General Election right now and published in the voter pamphlet that you had a sure fire "plan" to build the sewer at TriW for 50/month IT WOULD WIN."


    Yes, it would win.

    "It's the economy stupid.
    again and again and again.
    That is why I don't blame Ron at all for not caring.
    "



    It's incorrect to accuse me of being stupid and really quite unnecessary. You could make your point without insulting my intelligence if you cared too.

    By Blogger Commentary, at 9:01 AM, January 19, 2010  

  • I didn't mean to insult you, I was referring to the mantra coined by Bill Clinton and his incredibly tight campaign the first time he got elected, It's the economy stupid was a reminder tp himself to keep focused on the economy because that's the key to winning elections.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 9:46 AM, January 19, 2010  

  • Commentary wrote:

    "I'm also trying to make this sentence as long as the above sentence but I'm running out of breath. :0"

    What's funny about that, is that sentence you refer to is about as tight as I could make it. When I have to sum up the current situation in one sentence... yep, it's going to take a coupla breaths to get through that sentence.

    "The people of Los Osos VOTED to put a sewer at that site Tri W.

    A sewer. Not ANY sewer.

    Like Mike pointed out, that is a very, VERY key point, that I've tried to make over, and over, and over again.

    I'll try again: The people of Los Osos voted to put THE FIRST LOCSD sewer at the Tri-W site -- the Solution Group's 1998 dead-on-arrival, "drop dead gorgeous," ponding system, at "$38.75/month," that was heavily advertised as "odorless," and did not include a public park.

    When that project failed (as predicted) in late 2000, after nearly two years of futile development, the people of Los Osos NEVER got a say on the second project -- an industrial sewer plant, at waaaaaaay more than $38.75/month, and NOT-so-drop-dead-gorgeous at the Tri-W site... UNTIL the recall election in 2005.

    To be clear, it took FIVE years for the voters of Los Osos to finally have their say on the LOCSD's second sewer project at the Tri-W site.

    And, as I've shown repeatedly, there's absolutely no documentation whatsoever that supports why the SECOND project had to ALSO be built at the Tri-W site... which makes that second project illegal, according to CEQA.

    Commentary wrote:

    "What ever happened to the 45 people's lawsuit that was supposed to go to court last Fall?"

    EXCELLENT question! And, trust me, that question is on my radar for one of my "at least weekly" quotas.

    Mike wrote:

    "Why should he? I always reply, what he has written is great!"

    And completely unresolved! That's the part that just kills me.

    Of all the GREAT life-lessons that can be gleaned from this amazing story, Bonaparte's amazing quote is right at the top of the list:

    ""It is not necessary to bury the truth. It is sufficient merely to delay it until nobody cares."

    With a bit of luck, I'll have my story finally resolved by December 31, 2010.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:15 AM, January 19, 2010  

  • Why does everybody think we're nuts for balking against a $200+ monthly sewer bill? I'm not so sure we actually voted for Tri-W, but the original presentation was for way cheaper, way faster, and way better than what the County was offering us. Plus we would be in control of our own destiny since it was obvious the County has never cared about us. That point was repeatedly used in the promotion for voting in a CSD. What we ended up with was the most expensive sewer per capita in the U.S.. And yet we are considered nuts and fools. 1100 plus septic tanks added to the prohibition zone after 8313 and we're supposed to believe that it is over saturation of septic tanks that is the problem. People say the recall was successful because of the promise of $100 a month sewer bill. I certainly didn't buy into that, but with that came some hope that we surely could do it cheaper and at a better site than Tri-W.
    Take a drive around town. Especially today with all the rain. Does this town look like it can afford a 165 million dollar sewer?
    Sincerely, M

    By Blogger M, at 10:16 AM, January 19, 2010  

  • "The people of Los Osos voted to put THE FIRST LOCSD sewer at the Tri-W site -- the Solution Group's 1998 dead-on-arrival, "drop dead gorgeous," ponding system, at "$38.75/month," that was heavily advertised as "odorless," and did not include a public park."



    I kinda like it this way..........the Solution Group's 1998 "drop dead gorgeous" but dead on arrival ponding system, at "$38.75 per month which was heavily advertised as odorless and closely resembled a park in the made to look drop dead gorgeous beh. based marketing brochure......... My suggestion is really only about closly associating dead on arrival with the ponding system in the sequence.


    And yes, it's all about the money. If the sewer would've been paid for (by other people's money-- the clean water act money), no one would have protested when people began protesting the sewer starting in the early 1380's........ha ha ha it only seems that long.........in the early 1980's.


    Speaking of MONEY!. How much is the current sewer going to cost? Not the fake number estimate; the real number which includes the operation of the sewer and the tax that people are already paying for the Tri W site and any bankruptcy or pay off's to make the lawsuit's go away (settlements).

    By Blogger Commentary, at 5:40 PM, January 19, 2010  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 12:15 AM, January 20, 2010  

  • Sorry, eyes bleary, caught a typo.

    The people have voted for a "cheaper" sewer this time too - at $25,000 per household (complete with lien against said property) AND in addition to paying for the last project, we also pay for a bankruptcy and the CSD has no control over the project.

    As to the final cost? Who knows - the Coastal Commission is putting Tri-W conditions back into this one - except of course we get no park. So whether or not we get stimulus/cheap money to help pay for this is is the $64,000 dollar question. To answer your question, no one knows.

    Oh and, "And quite frankly,there doesn't have to be a sewer at all." Tell that to the RWQCB and the water purveyors with that all-but-useless upper aquifer.

    The PZLDF lawsuit pizzleflopped.

    "Where are all the millions coming from that has funded these many attempts starting from the County's initial project, add the Solution's group's expenditure plus the current concept"

    $6 mil from the County's general fund which the County ate. SG expenditures - we are paying on our property taxes for the bond that paid for property and design of Tri-W. $7+ mil on the current one, which we pay back to the County - when they accept the project.

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 12:17 AM, January 20, 2010  

  • Yeah, I know that no one apparently knows how much the current sewer is going to cost but I keep asking the question anyways to make that point. It's always going to be cheaper.


    Re: sewer planning costs:
    The County spent big bucks from the 1980's to the Solution Group's demise of their project---so that's one number. Then the Sol.Grp's project---add that number in and then this current County sewer. Yeah, I know, no one knows how much and it doesn't matter but it's interesing. It could be $30 million.



    No project--meaning no conventional sewer project for the whole town. Opps, not the whole town; the high-end home district, Cabrillo Estates, voted to be out of the sewer district years ago through their property owners association and are allowed by RWQCB to not have a sewer and even get to continue to build new homes with septic tanks. That right there should reveal some interesting inconsistentcies. (No time to spell check, electricity is flicking--huge storm--logging off).

    By Blogger Commentary, at 8:37 AM, January 20, 2010  

  • Their waste apparently goes off into a different direction and does not reach our aquifers. Thank goodness, To add them into this would really jack up the project costs.

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 9:55 AM, January 20, 2010  

  • Toons, at the Ripley meetings I questioned (Dr. Ruhr?) about the nitrate levels detected in the wells just at the edge of Cabrillo and why, if the aquifer at the edge flowed towards sweet springs, was the levels higher there than several "downstream" wells.
    The answer was that indeed Cabrillo probably does contribute quite a bit, especially the livestock areas.
    The reason Cabrillo isn't in the PZ is because they have large enough parcels to escape the RWQCB rules prohibiting septic tanks
    And therein lies one of the unfair but unavoidable results of the PZ line in the sand.
    And you are certainly right about costs going up if they were included, as the major portion of costs for the sewer is in the collection system.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 2:56 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • It's been, and has always been, more about regulatory compliance than the water.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 3:04 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • Well when does anything ever get done without regulations? It is almost impossible to get it done even then. Look at 83-13! I don't see any volunteers to fix this stuff, water be damned.

    I would take Dr. Ruhr's (?) words with a grain of salt, although the bigger lots help. 8 to 12 homes per acre down here on the flats is absurd and should never happened. But we can't punish dead guys.

    Whatever Cabrillo is doing, it does not take the rest of us off the hook. I wouldn't lobby to add them though, I'm paying quite enough.

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 3:20 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • But actually Mike Green (Salsa Verde) I think Cabrillo flows split. If you know how to contact me, let's take that off-line.
    And the costs went up because that division was a social injustice, rightly preceived. Therfore another straw that broke the back of the project(s) was created.
    The County was correct in that they delineated General benefit versus (Specific?), but with 2701 the boundries were sustained. So no resolution.
    So the question is;
    Where do those in their High Castles on the Hill find the potable waters to water their lawns, and fill their moats?
    (Just joking Cabriolinos, I have plenty of friends amongst you)

    Maybe an inevitable social injustice rather than a deliberately engineered one.
    Unintended consequences.

    Regulatory compliance? Who would vote for someone offering a regulatory solution, too booring.

    And which regulators of the 25+ agencies?, CCC is not the last regulatory hurdle by a long shot.

    By Blogger Alon Perlman, at 3:32 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • How many houses are there in Cabrillo? 200 something? What percentage of Los Osos are they?

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 5:38 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • 200 houses with barns riding stables donkeys, horses chickens who knows what else.
    Doesn't matter because they comply with the law AND they are outside the PZ.
    The line had to be drawn somewhere.
    Look at the end of Manzanita street, heck look at Mr Clokey's place (gumby) Seaflower ranch. Those places are plenty big enough to qualify as suitable for septic, but they are inside that magic line.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 6:59 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • Darnit that MG cemented the 200 number,
    To post or to revise, that is the question. Hmmm.
    The theme is "Don't ask me cause I don't give a damn, next stop is sewerland"
    post as is-
    Toons, Toons, Toons
    Since when does engineering have anything to do with politics?
    You simply can't get from one to the other.
    Peregrine’s view or pigeon’s?
    20 400 I could easily find out, I'll say 400 and not care a whit if I am wrong.
    And along those lines.

    Brilliant Ron and very refreshing.
    I suspected it was along those lines. (wasn't all that close)Didn't make sense otherwise, Raw Journalistic talent, sitting around with a story ongoing.

    Why try to gets one's mouth around the entire enchilada, then sit around in a glycemic stupor, thinking dully, disinterestedly about seconds.

    Why not take a bite from the first corner presented, large enough to include a little of every ingredient, including those black olives, and chew well, savoring and exposing every taste bud. then breath in to accentuate the smell taste connection. Food memory.
    Stays in the brain as a delicacy rather than a remembrance of the bloated feeling.
    Better yet you avoided any necessity to download or watch the Bazilyonty seven hours of Public comment etc... following.

    I will point out that the project(s) continued to go through permutations including SnossageBurgers, SandCakes decorated with bottle caps, Violet Cola with LimeIce Float, Fillet of Squrewt with Larks tongues in Aspic, 25 morobandeds Omelet, Boars head marinated in Sante sangria de Santos,Three reichs Kchocolate cake, SnickerDoodles, Leg of Brent stuffed with red salamander served over a steaming plate of Eel Grass, Pizmo Clam shells dipped in white chocolate, Lemon tartlets crumbled into pixie straws and the final culinary destination- Soylent Green.

    But by then that first bite sensation would be longgone.

    (Ooops left out; Longanica in cervaisa with baby onions, peas and raisins over brown rice)

    By Blogger Alon Perlman, at 7:49 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • Nice poetry Alon!

    Mike Green, aren't the majority ranch properties on an acre or so? Aren't septics supposed to work on that much ground? (Houses different of course, I'm thinking there are just over 200. But how big are those properties?)

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 8:59 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • Hey, no argument there, indeed they probably work just fine, in fact, look around, this last weather event has done to other sewer systems in the county, spills and back ups everywhere.
    Septic systems in the right conditions are better.
    The well test data was there for all to see, the wells at the edge of the PZ near the top of Doris avenue had larger nitrate counts than some of the wells nearer the bay towards Sweet Springs.
    They also indicated general flow direction towards Sweet Springs and the topography leads that direction too (higher to lower)
    But so what? even if Cabrillo Estates is a nitrate source or not it doesn't matter.
    (A good thing too considering the extra cost)
    Like the PZ line, regulations sometimes hang the sheep with the goats.
    They both can only say BAAAAAA

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 9:25 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • Hmm I used to think so too so. In other words a "lava eruption" at a site (modeling for a substance that would flow overground) would be assumed to flow directly downhill and north. The cabrillo Plume? been a while, since I saw it (a slide?).
    If you can direct me to the data MG? The underlying topography is not as simple.
    IE some waters are carving out ravenna. Some collect from the streets directly above, I think parts of cabrillo flow there also, the rest goes further north/west, towards Pecho. once it flattens out it follows a more westerly course
    Pallisades and the Eastern collection system follows LOVR and ends up on Midtown Or triple W cessadia for those who prefer the traditional flavor. Then what? subsurface. guess its the right time of year to investigate.
    I've walked Sweet springs many times and I see additional influences.
    I was going for the belly not as much the ears, but thanks toons.
    Hairy Hog Jowls, yum.

    There are a cluster of lots of .47 acres but there is a link to open space mitigation for the development. And of course a horse will pee like a ..umm ur..
    like something that pees a lot.

    By Blogger Alon Perlman, at 10:42 PM, January 20, 2010  

  • MG wrote:

    " The reason Cabrillo isn't in the PZ is because they have large enough parcels to escape the RWQCB rules prohibiting septic tanks
    And therein lies one of the unfair but unavoidable results of the PZ line in the sand.
    "

    Cantcha just smell that lawsuit a-comin' down the sewer pipe?

    And, it could happen at any time, including, like, ten years from now -- where some property owner in the PZ wakes up one morning, and says, "Hey, wait a sec. Why do I have to pay to clean Cabrillo Estate's water, and they don't?"

    That scenario kinda-sorta reminds me of that interesting little case out in Morro Bay a few years back -- where, in that Cloisters subdivision, there's that little park that the entire community can use, but it was only being funded by the Cloister property owners.

    The property owners sued, and won.

    I first wrote about that at this link:

    http://sewerwatch.blogspot.com/2005/09/another-sewerwatch-exclusive-uh-oh-for.html

    And, like I so brilliantly pointed out in that piece, the Tri-W "project" was going to run into that exact same gigantic problem. Oh, that would have been a HUGE(er) mess.

    The benefit/assessment stuff, surprisingly, can be kind of interesting.

    Here's the Google search:

    "special benefit" assessment

    And, as long as I'm here, I want to have some fun with my Yin-Yang/Huge File-O-Quotes take:

    Yin:

    From the Trib's editorial today:

    "We understand that the Coastal Commission is cautious in granting development permits, especially for a project of this size and scope..."

    Yang:

    From my Huge File-O-Quotes:

    "I admit that I probably didn't look at the specific language of the LCP, the way I should have."
    -- California Coastal Commission member, Sara Wan, August 11, 2004, discussing the Coastal Development Permit for the Tri-W project.

    and;

    "I don't remember anything with as many cautions and questions that came up with an approval, than this project."
    -- California Coastal Commission member, Toni Iseman, August 11, 2004, discussing the Coastal Development Permit for the Tri-W project.

    Uh, Triby, I don't think you "understand."

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:42 AM, January 21, 2010  

  • Guess that would be up to the RWQCB to enforce - as long as I DON"T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT on THIS project.

    By Blogger Sewertoons, at 10:59 AM, January 21, 2010  

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