Residents may get a say in proposed Oceano water sale

Five Oceano residents have successfully gathered enough valid signatures on an initiative that would require the local services district to ask voters to approve any permanent sale of the community’s water.

In recent weeks, the residents, concerned over the Oceano Community Services District board’s consideration of selling some water to local developers or other cities, developed a petition and circulated it. Within several days, they had gathered 577 signatures.

San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said her staff checked 500 of the names and found 383 valid signatures of registered Oceano voters, several dozen more than the 341 needed to move forward.

The district board now must decide whether to adopt the ordinance as proposed or put it before local voters. If board members choose the latter option, it wouldn’t go to voters until the November 2012 election, Rodewald said.

The ordinance would require that any details of a proposed sale, including impacts to Oceano, be presented in a report prepared by a registered water engineer and a certified public accountant and mailed to every registered voter in the district no later than 60 days before an election.

It would not take effect until the district board adopts the ordinance or local voters approve it.

“If they were doing what the people wanted, they’d adopt the ordinance,” said Cathy Young, one of the five petitioners. “The water belongs to everybody, not just to those five people” on the community services district board.

Oceano district General Manager Raffaele Montemurro said the ordinance has not been placed on the agenda for the district’s meeting next Wednesday. The deadline for items to be added to the meeting agenda was Thursday at 4 p.m.

However, it is likely the ordinance could be placed on the following meeting’s agenda Feb. 23.

On Wednesday, the district board will again consider a proposal to sell 100 acre-feet of water to the developer of Los Robles del Mar, a proposed project outside Pismo Beach that includes 252 homes and senior housing units.

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