Local

Protest of Los Osos sewer project falls far short

jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Far fewer than half of the required property owners in Los Osos on Tuesday protested service charges for the county’s planned sewer project, allowing the Board of Supervisors to adopt them.

The charges will generate $5.74 million a year to cover the operations and maintenance costs of the sewer. The county will begin charging the fees when the sewer system becomes operational, which is expected to be in 2014.

The law requires that the county give property owners in Los Osos a chance to protest the fees. The threshold is 50 percent of the property owners plus one for the protest to be successful.

A total of 2,632 parcel owners would have had to protest for the fee program to be rejected. However, only 801 owners, or about 15 percent of the total number of parcel owners, filed protests.

Establishment of the fees was the latest in a long series of decisions in the past three years that were necessary for regulatory approval of the $165 million system. Supervisors must still vote to formally commit to building the project as well as hold another vote to include undeveloped parcels in paying for the project.

As it is now, owners of single-family homes will pay nearly $200 a month for the next 30 to 40 years to finance the project. If undeveloped parcels are included, the cost will drop to $163 a month, according to the county Public Works Department.

Those costs prompted nearly two dozen Los Osos residents to warn that many in the community of 15,000 will lose their homes. They pleaded with supervisors not to approve the rates.

“We cannot afford these kinds of rates,” Leslie Sands said. “We can’t cut back anymore.”Several other Los Osos residents urged supervisors to approve the rates and get on with building the sewer system.

“Everyone I know is rooting for this 40-year saga to end,” Joyce Albright said.

Supervisors are expected to get their next progress report on the sewer project in March.

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