Fighting over water in Paso Robles

July 6, 2010


I helped circulate the petition to allow people to vote in November on the Paso Robles City  water rate plan. People did get the chance to vote, and Measure A-09 was defeated.

It is only right for the residents to have a say in a Capital project more than five times the cost of all the projects combined in the 1998 Paso Robles Measure D-98, which the voters did approve. Had the City Council attempted to follow the intent of Proposition 218 on this current issue, instead of trying to get around it, this matter would have been long ago settled with the consent of the voters.

During the 1990’s, city officials had continually assured the people that population growth would pay it’s own way, but they miscalculated and the infrastructure (bridges, police and fire services) clearly became overloaded. The citizens were willing to increase their taxes (We have another 20 years to pay) in order to make up for the deficiency.

The current situation that invites scrutiny is that for years residents were continually assured by  City Hall that there was plenty of water for growth. We are now being told by the City Manager that we have no choice but to pay for this project because there is a “desperate need for water. “

To this day no development project has been turned down by the City Council because of a shortage of water. In fact, if the housing bubble hadn’t stopped development, our representatives would likely have Paso growing three times faster than the rest of the County.

The important question for our citizens to consider isn’t  “Did growth require more water?” Instead, residents should focus their attention on the question “How much should existing residents have to pay to subsidize population growth?”  The residents of Paso Robles have the moral, if not the constitutional right, to their  determining what that level should be.

Given the fact that the average resident’s income level in Paso Robles is far below any other incorporated city in San Luis Obispo County,  I would think that if the City Council were going to subsidize anything, it would be to find ways to increase employment and growth in the earnings level for our residents.

Instead, they’re increasing the cost of living on people struggling financially to raise a family or to live on a fixed income, by saddling them with paying for growth.

Walter Heer lives in Paso Robles.

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A lot of vineyards are dry-farmed and placed on drip from their own wells. It’s easy to bash the wine industry until you lose all the revenues they bring to the region. Then what?

To AtascaderoRon Well, it’s been three days now and you haven’t responded to your false comments. The citizens of Paso Robles didn’t approve the financing of the Nacimiento water pipeline project. The financing bonds ( $176 million ) were expedited by the Paso Robles City Council without voter approval. Obviously, you can not substantiate your rhetoric. You are being a blooter.

To AtascaderoRon ——- Although, you say, you do not reside in Paso Robles. You should try harder to follow the issues and not misrepresent the facts. You don’t know what you are talking about. Tell the readers with some facts when the citizens of Paso Robles voted and approved the financing bonds for the pipeline. The City Council never,never got voter approval to spend over $176 million for the Nacimiento water project. Don’t be blooter.

There is a solution to this fiasco, let new development pay 100% for their cost of the water. Why should the current homeowners in Paso Robles pay more for less water? I ask you, Would you want

to subsidize new development?

Although I don’t live in Paso Robles, I try and follow the issues. This isn’t about water! This is about anti growth. The people of Paso voted to build the pipeline. They approved spending the money. The issue now is how to pay for the project.

Since the city council got the approval of the voters to build the project, why is there so much BS on paying for it?

To AtascaderoRon – Anybody that knows me or my family would not say we are anti growth.The issue here is the City acting without the concent of the people and mandating that existing residents must subsidize growth.

Growth is healthy when planned and it pays for it’s self. I will go one step further, when the people decide they are willing to subsidize growth as they did with D-98, which they still have 20 years of taxes yet to pay off D-98, that’s O K. In this case the City when ahead and spent the money without the concent of the governed, and are now requiring the existing residents to pay for growth.

@Army – This maybe an ignorant question, but vast majority of the wineries and vineyards exist outside the city limits. Does the Paso city council have a say in this? I don’t know.

Seems to me, and I’m no engineer, that dozens of vineyards that pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every day out of the aquafir to keep the grapes growing (and Paso’s reputation as the “new” Napa valley)…would make water rather scarce for the rest of the north county.

Paso has failed its residents, and forcing them to suffer her foolishness.