Monday, July 25, 2005

Tangled Web

reported by Ron Crawford.

According to the Value Engineering process conducted by the LOCSD's engineering firm, Montgomery, Watson, Harza, there could be significant cost-savings in the project if the "site amenities" (a.k.a. park) were removed. Yea. No kidding. In fact, multi-millions of dollars could be saved if the park was removed, but the problem is, according to the District's Coastal Development Permit (CDP), the CSD is not allowed to take the park out of the project. Apparently, someone needs to tell MWH about Special Conditions 12 and 17. Those are two of the many conditions that the California Coastal Commission made the LOCSD agree to before the CCC issued the CDP last August.

I love Special Conditions 12 and 17. They say, in no uncertain terms, that the park is not up for negotiation. Why? Because the only reason the CCC caved on the Tri-W site in 2002 (the agency doesn't like the idea of the facility at Tri-W... too much environmentally sensitive stuff), and agreed to amend the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) to allow the facility at Tri-W, was the "project objective" of "centrally located amenities." And in 2002, the LOCSD's site plan included all kinds of pretty "amenities" like "community gardens" and an amphitheater (that's right... for all you new-comers, the Los Osos CSD is putting an amphitheater in their sewer plant... I'm not making that up.)

So, imagine the surprise of the CCC when the LOCSD showed up two years later with a revised plan that was inexplicably missing all of that pretty stuff.

To me, the chronology of the park in the plan is amazing:
In 2002, the CSD says to the California Coastal Commission that the sewer plant has to be located at Tri-W because it's the only site that accomplishes the "project objective" of a "centrally located" park. The CCC reluctantly agrees, and goes through the laborious task of amending the Local Coastal Plan to accommodate the facility at Tri-W. Then, as a "cost-saving measure," the CSD yanks the park out of the plan almost entirely, then, when it comes time to go back to the CCC to get the development permit in 2004, the Los Osos CSD shows up with a park-less plan, and that left the Commissioners (and their staff) scratching their collective head... what happened to the friggin' park?


The 2004 California Coastal Commission, understandably, was not amused by the Los Osos CSD's act, and in a strikingly harsh, yet warranted, move, told the CSD that they could not move forward with their sewer project unless the public park -- the same public park that the CSD originally presented to the Commission, the same public park that is dictating the "downtown" location -- was put back into the plan, and maintained "in perpetuity." Then (and in a great moment of bureaucratic smack) Commissioner Potter called the CSD "a little bait-and-switchy" (I still love that quote).

At a recent Los Osos CSD meeting, director Richard LeGros said that the process involved with developing the sewer was "followed to a T."

Well, I suppose my question to Mr. LeGros is this: If the Los Osos CSD followed the sewer development process "To a T," then why did a Coastal Commissioner refer to the way the Los Osos CSD followed the sewer development process as "bait-and-switchy?" Something doesn't add up.

I'll tell ya, the Los Osos CSD is lucky I wasn't a member of the California Coastal Commission in 2004 when they were applying for their CDP.

I wouldn't have made them "reincorporate" the park. No, my response would have been more along these lines:

"For God's sake, two years ago, we went through that entire amendment process (LCP Amendment 3-01) so you could accommodate your "centrally located" amenities in your sewer, and now you come back at us with a plan without the "centrally located" amenities? Are you playing with us? Who do you think you're messing with? We're the California Coastal Commission! Stop wasting our time! You know what? Since you guys are in the mood to pull your "centrally located" amenities, then we're now in the mood to pull your development permit. You don't want a park now? Then start the hell over. Go back to the damn drawing board. Oh, and by the way -- Regional Water Quality Control Board -- feel free to start fining the Los Osos CSD anytime you feel like it."

That would have been my reasonable, appropriate and understandable response.

Source stuff... The following is from the August, 2004, California Coastal Commission staff report, page 89:

"... the LOCSD has agreed to reincorporate public amenities that were included in the site plan reviewed by the Commission during the processing of LCP Amendment 3-01 but later removed by the LOCSD as a cost saving measure. These facilities, which include a 15 space public parking lot and drop off area, an amphitheater, community gardens, restroom, tot-lot, and picnic areas, factored into the previous decision to allow the treatment facility to be located on this site, since other alternatives were rejected on the basis that they did not accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities. Therefore, providing these facilities as part of the project, as required by Special conditions 12 and 17, is necessary to fulfill commitments to provide enhanced access and recreation opportunities that were made during the processing of LCP Amendment 3-01.

'til next time... (article quoted by permission of the author.)


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