Politics & Government

Grover Beach's $48 million Measure K would raise funds for street fixes

Last Saturday, a group of about 30 Grover Beach residents fanned out across the northern part of town, knocking on doors in an effort to inform other residents and build support for Measure K, the $48 million bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The measure would pay to rehabilitate and reconstruct all 29 miles of residential streets and some of the major thoroughfares in Grover Beach.

The average annual assessment over the life of the bond is estimated at approximately $77 per $100,000 of assessed value.

If voters approve the measure — which requires a two-thirds vote to pass — the city would issue a series of 25-year bonds every three years for 20 years. Property owners would pay an annual assessment until the last bond matures in 45 years.

More than 65 percent of the city's streets are in poor or failing conditions, a recent analysis found.

Some of the walkers heard concerns about the measure's cost and how residents living on a fixed income could afford it, said Steve Lieberman, a former city councilman and member of a committee formed to support the measure.

Others answered questions about the city's budget, and told residents that the city receives just 14 to 17 cents out of every dollar of property tax paid.

“Once you get people the facts ... they’re shocked,” Lieberman said. “But are they sold?”

He and other committee members are concerned that the cost of fixing streets could skyrocket in future years if voters reject this solution now.

No ballot argument was filed against the measure and no group has organized to oppose it.

In its ballot argument in favor of Measure K, the Grover Beach council wrote that it would improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists; increase property values; maintain emergency response times; and enhance residents’ quality of life.

Measure K “upgrades Grover Beach’s deteriorating residential and major streets before they get worse and cost more,” the council statement says.

The measure would require the city to put all of the money into a specified account fund to be used solely for street rehabilitation. An oversight committee would also review all expenditures and publicly report the findings.

City officials say they’ve spent more than $11 million over the past two decades on road rehabilitation, but their small budget has historically not been able to stretch far enough to provide basic city services while also properly maintaining 45 miles of wide, paved boulevards — more than 10 million square feet of asphalt.

Information provided by Public Works Director Greg Ray lists 83 street projects completed since 1995, at a total cost of about $11.3 million, or an average of $565,000 a year.

With 13,432 residents, Grover Beach is the fourth-largest of San Luis Obispo County's seven cities, but its budget, at about $7.3 million, is the smallest of any incorporated city. Sales tax revenues make up only 20 percent of the city’s general fund budget, while property tax comprises 49 percent.

City officials expect to sell the bonds in stages to keep assessments lower in the first few years, rising each year as more bonds are sold. As each bond series matures, the assessments begin to drop.

For more information, go to the Save Our Streets campaign website or to the city website.