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Signs protesting Morro Bay sewer rates disappeared — it was the city that took them

Fly over Morro Bay’s wastewater treatment plant — and get a look at its possible future

Morro Bay, California, needs to replace its aging wastewater treatment plant, which was built in 1953. The California Coastal Commission has denied a permit to build a new plant near the Pacific Ocean.
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Morro Bay, California, needs to replace its aging wastewater treatment plant, which was built in 1953. The California Coastal Commission has denied a permit to build a new plant near the Pacific Ocean.

After seizing more than two dozen signs protesting a proposed $41 water-and-sewer rate increase, the city of Morro Bay on Wednesday issued a reminder that city law prohibits the placement of signs on city or state property.

Some Morro Bay residents, including members of the group Citizens for Affordable Living Morro Bay, which opposes the rate increase, expressed concern at the disappearance of several signs that were put up in north Morro Bay.

City manager Scott Collins said the signs had been placed on city property or city-owned rights-of-way.

Collins said city staff removed such signs if they generated complaints. The city has received four complaints from the public thus far, he said.

“My understanding from talking with staff is that the complaints were for multiple signs,” Collins said. “The signs that were removed were, by and large, located in major corridor areas, not in neighborhoods where it is a bit more challenging for residents to decipher where private land ends and public lands begin.”

Confiscated signs were taken to City Hall, where they could be claimed by their owners.

Members have the right to place political signs on private property, and it is a crime to remove, damage or deface them without the owner’s consent. However, municipal code bars the placement of signs:

  • On city streets, medians, sidewalks “and other areas where sidewalks would typically be located.”
  • At city parks and beaches.
  • At city-owned facilities or parcels.
  • At state-owned property, including along Highway 1 and Highway 41.

Collins said signs are removed on a complaint-driven basis.

Morro Bay parcel owners and water-and-sewer ratepayers have until Aug. 28 to protest the planned $41 rate increase, which will pay for the city’s proposed water reclamation facility. If 50 percent plus one of estimated 5,800 ratepayers protest the increase, the city will be forced to scrap the existing plan.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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