Sex and the Los Osos sewer
June 17, 2011
By KAREN VELIE
A vehicle crash into a San Luis Obispo creek has revealed the extent of a personal relationship between a top county official and a Los Osos Community Services District board member—raising allegations of a possible conflict of interest.
Accusations that Paavo Ogren, San Luis Obispo County Public Works Director and Maria Kelly, vice president of the Los Osos Community Services District, have been conspiring to help push through a $200 million sewer project have surfaced because the couples’ teenage children, from former marriages, drove a car down a 20-foot embankment into San Luis Creek on June 14.
“In the context of the waste water project for the community, Ms. Kelly has been a proxy for Paavo Ogren,” said Jeff Edwards, a 30-year resident of Los Osos.
Thursday, as suspicions grew that Kelly had been staying in San Luis Obispo with Ogren rather than living in the district she represents as required to serve on the board, Kelly abruptly stepped down from her position as vice president of the district.
“Unfortunately, as I evaluate my current situation and the needs of my children, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I must immediately step down, since I do not believe I can provide the commitment and attention that the Board of Directors requires and that the community of Los Osos deserves,” Kelly said in her letter of resignation.
Ogren’s son is presently facing a felony drunk driving charge after driving Kelly’s son and two other teens into the creek. Police said the teens resided in San Luis Obispo and Atascadero. None provided Los Osos as their place of residence.
Ogren and Kelly began spending time together about two to three years ago, around the time Kelly was elected to the board. Over the years, the couple was observed discussing strategy prior to meetings causing some to question if a conflict of interest existed.
In 2010, Kelly left her husband, transferred her children to San Luis Obispo schools and moved in with Ogren. Every other week, she would spend a few days with her children at her former home in Los Osos.
Kelly and her ex-husband are attempting to sell their former residence.
For years, Kelly has advocated in favor of Ogren’s vision for the Los Osos sewer plant – a $200 million controversial sewage system slated to serve about 12,500 people.
“I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to be here in support of the county — and I’m happy to be in support of county staff. I’ve been a broken record on that they’ve been extremely professional, helpful, diligent and very responsive to the community,” Kelly said during a September 2009 San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting.
“I already had to take one job due to budget cuts at Cal Poly. I’m willing to take another. I love Los Osos that much. I’m willing to do what I have to do to keep my family there and raise my children,” Kelly added at the time.
Meanwhile, CalCoastNews has learned Ogren’s home is allegedly a frequent after school “party house ” where teens go to smoke and drink. One parent of a teen who was in the accident, said they have found the teens partying after school at Ogren’s home on several occasions.
Ogren and Kelly did not return requests for comment.