Letters to the Editor

Here’s why Morro Bay’s sewer project costs more than it should

Les Girvin in 2006 at the Morro Bay Sewer Plant.
Les Girvin in 2006 at the Morro Bay Sewer Plant. The Tribune

An important point was missing from your article on Morro Bay City Council’s siting of its water reclamation facility. It was not just an east-versus-west decision. The choice was between five sites. For me, it was the Righetti site versus South Bay, which the council eventually preferred. We all eliminated the coastal locations. Coastal Commission staff was clear: an 18-month-to-24-month permitting process for coastal sites, thereby eliminating our chances at the low-cost federal loan (the application is due in July).

Righetti avoids all coastal hazards, is closer to town and at a lower elevation than South Bay, and is the least expensive, long-term solution for our residents. But the council was unable to choose Righetti, the cheaper — and better — alternative because a handful of neighbors threatened to relentlessly pursue a lawsuit if we did, also putting the low-cost loan at risk. It is unfair to ask all Morro Bay ratepayers to spend $15 to $20 more every month for 30 to 35 years because the residents of a few houses, looking down over backyard fences, might see the plant.

Furthermore, their fears could be allayed. Modern plants have smaller footprints, are self-contained, have effective odor controls and can be landscaped to screen views, with the remainder of the site preserved as open space.

The council is trying hard to bring down project costs. Righetti residents should have dropped their opposition for the benefit of the entire community.

Marlys McPherson, Morro Bay City Council member