Grover Beach puts $48 million street repair bond measure on Nov. 4 ballot

clambert@thetribunenews.comJuly 7, 2014 

The future of Grover Beach’s potholed streets will soon be in local voters’ hands.

The Grover Beach City Council voted Monday to put a $48 million bond measure on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

If the measure passes, the city would use a new property tax to spend up to $48 million over 25 years to rebuild and rehabilitate all 29 miles of residential streets as well as some major thoroughfares.

“The point of doing this altogether is we really do need to do an awful lot of work on our streets,” Mayor Debbie Peterson said. “It really is a major reconstruction project.”

The measure would require a two-thirds voter approval to pass.

With a $48 million bond, property owners would pay an average of $165 per $100,000 of assessed value over 25 years. The annual tax would be based on a property’s assessed value, not market value.

City officials would sell the bonds in increments, so annual costs for property owners would be lower at the beginning of the bond period.

“They’re not going to get hit with a $48 million bond issue all of a sudden,” Councilman Bill Nicolls said.

Now that the council has agreed to place the measure on the ballot, the next step will likely be more difficult: educating voters on why they should vote for it.

“We’re all going to have to make an effort,” said Sharon Brown, one of a handful of residents at the meeting Monday.

Resident Kay Albertson said she supported the measure but questioned the cost, wondering whether the city could add curbs, gutters and sidewalks to some of the streets along with the repairs.

“Is it strictly streets? Because that seems like an excessive amount of money per mile,” she said.

City Manager Bob Perrault said some of those additions may occur to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

City officials maintain they don’t have enough money to rehabilitate all of Grover Beach’s deteriorating roads, and they say that  without a large infusion of cash, the streets could fail within six to 10 years.

Currently, 71 percent of the city’s residential streets and 58 percent of its major streets are in poor or failing conditions, according to Pavement Engineering Inc., which recently analyzed Grover Beach’s roadways.

Removing and replacing all 45 miles of pavement would cost $102 million, according to Pavement Engineering Inc. That’s a tremendous amount for a city with an annual $7.3 million general fund budget. But not all of the city’s streets are failing, officials noted, and some wouldn’t need as much work as others.

On Monday, council members took two actions  to put the bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot. They voted 5-0 to approve a resolution finding that it is in the public’s interest to improve the streets and issue bonds to finance the construction projects.

The council also unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to place the bond measure on the ballot. A final approval of the ordinance is scheduled for July 21.

Council members also had previously discussed pursuing a $38 million bond — which would pay for projects on only residential streets — but decided to pursue the higher amount to “get the job done right,” Nicolls said.

Council members and a few local residents noted the importance of getting information out to voters.

“It’s not going to be an easy feat, but it’s one that really has to happen,” Councilwoman Karen Bright said. “I intend to walk the streets and do whatever I can. It’s important for the health of our community.”

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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