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Morro Bay wastewater plan is up for a vote — but some customers didn't get their ballots

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.

Morro Bay property owners and water/sewer customers now have until 6 p.m. Sept. 11 to protest a proposed $41 rate increase, after some people didn’t receive ballots in the mail.

“City staff became aware late Friday afternoon that mistakenly not all customers were provided with the Proposition 218 notices that were mailed out on July 13,” according to a city of Morro Bay statement.

The city announced it would mail out the additional ballots early in the week of July 23.

Because the law requires that eligible voters — which includes almost all Morro Bay parcel owners and anyone who pays a city water/sewer bill — receive 45 days to weigh in on the rate increase, the public hearing date where the votes will be tallied was pushed from Aug. 28 to Sept. 11.

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“If you have already submitted a written protest to the city clerk based on the previous notice regarding the surcharge rate increase, then you need do nothing further and your protest will be counted,” according to the city statement.

Protest ballots can either be mailed or hand delivered to City Hall, 595 Harbor St.

Though city staff took administrative action to extend the deadline, that action will have to be approved by the Morro Bay City Council, which will take it up at the Aug. 14 meeting, according to Finance Director Jen Callaway.

The $41 rate increase is intended to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant, to replace the city’s aging existing plant. Under the increase, water/sewer customers will pay between $162 and $233.50 a month, with the average household spending $191.

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The plant has the support of the city council, the California Coastal Commission and some Morro Bay residents, but other residents have protested the project — challenging the location and cost of the new plant and alleging it could disrupt sacred tribal burial grounds.

The city is hosting a series of “open office hours” events at City Hall in the coming weeks, where members of the public can ask questions about the impact to their water/sewer bill and the Prop 218 process:

  • Noon to 5 p.m. July 26
  • 8 a.m. to noon July 31
  • 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 9
  • Noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 14
Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler

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