Grover Beach council eyes ballot measure to fix crumbling roads

Grover Beach City Hall
Grover Beach City Hall dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Without a significant influx of cash to pay for a long-term repair program, Grover Beach’s streets will completely fail within six to 10 years, according to city officials.

Currently, 71 percent of the city’s residential streets and 58 percent of its major streets are in poor or failing conditions, according to pavement engineering experts who recently analyzed Grover Beach’s streets.

Earlier this year city officials, noting the cash-strapped city doesn’t have enough revenue to repair all of its crumbling, potholed roads, floated the idea of putting a bond measure on the November general election ballot to fund street rehabilitation.

The Grover Beach City Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday to decide whether to direct city staff to prepare a ballot measure. Though two-thirds of registered voters would have to support a general obligation bond, results from a recent survey show support for a bond ranging from $27 million to $48 million, City Manager Bob Perrault said.

Perrault also suggested the council delay its consideration of a controversial ballot measure asking voters to change the city from a general law to a charter city.

“While both measures are considered to be important to the future of the city, the street system and the need to abate further deterioration is a priority,” Perrault wrote in his staff report to the council.

“The 2/3rd majority requirement for the passage of the bond measure will require an extensive education program on behalf of the city.”

The reports from two consultants — one a review of city streets, the other a survey of registered voters — will be available Wednesday. Grover Beach has a vast network of wide streets — totaling nearly 9.3 million square feet of asphalt — and some of its perennial street problems stem from the fact that many of the streets were constructed on sand.

In his staff report, Perrault wrote that Pavement Engineering Inc., which has an office in San Luis Obispo, found the city’s street system overall is in very poor shape.

A survey conducted by public research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) asked voters about three general obligation bond amounts ranging from $27 million to $48 million. Results indicated the highest support for the lowest bond amount, but some indicated a willingness to pay more to increase the attention on local residential streets, Perrault wrote.

The annual tax would be based on a property’s assessed value, not market value, but the exact cost for property owners wouldn’t be known until city officials set a bond amount and repayment schedule.

But one example was included in Perrault’s staff report: if the city pursued a $27 million bond, property owners would pay $102 per $100,000 of assessed value annually. The staff report did not say how long the bond might last; Perrault could not be reached for comment Friday.

A previous scenario presented to the council in December showed potential costs if a $35 million bond measure was issued in $5 million increments. The first increment would add $28 per $100,000 of assessed value to property owners’ tax bills each year. By the time the final increment is issued, property owners would pay $136 per $100,000 of assessed value annually.