The Oceano services district board voted Wednesday night against a proposal to sell water to the developer of the Los Robles del Mar project just outside Pismo Beach.
District staff had been working for several months on a proposal to permanently sell 100 acre-feet of water to developer Larry Persons, who recently upped his offer for the water by $1.5 million to more than $2 million.
The board voted 3-2 against selling the water. Board members Lori Angello and Carole Henson voted in favor of selling.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the district considering where we’re at,” said Angello.
The board faced unanimous opposition to the proposal from the several dozen people gathered at the meeting.
Board member Mary Lucey, who was strongly against the proposal, argued that a sale of water was going against Oceano residents’ wishes and would be selling the community’s assets for “chump change.”
District officials have said the sale of water would go toward about $1 million of needed infrastructure improvements, such as water main replacements; repay reserve accounts; and avoid steeper water and sewer rate hikes than those already proposed.
But residents in recent weeks gathered enough valid signatures on a petition that would require the community’s registered voters to approve any permanent sale of water to an outside entity. The district board will consider the ordinance at its next meeting on Feb. 23.
Early in Wednesday’s meeting, Board President Jim Hill explained how the money would be used to upgrade aging infrastructure. “Those charges would have to be passed on to ratepayers,” he said.
Later on in the meeting, after numerous residents had spoken against the plan, Hill said: “Perhaps that’s the best way to do it -- to put it on the ballot.”
Persons declined to comment after the board's decision.
The Los Robles del Mar development includes 252 single-family homes and 60 senior citizen residences on 182 acres bordered by Oak Park Boulevard.
In 2008, the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission, which has to approve annexations of city land, denied Pismo Beach the Los Robles del Mar annexation because there wasn’t enough water to meet the needs of the proposed development.