County failing to protect Oceano from flooding?

July 26, 2011

Jeff Edwards


On July 19, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors heard a progress report from their Public Works Department regarding the drainage and flooding problems in Oceano. Unfortunately, with only a few short months remaining until winter rains begin, there will be no mitigation measures deployed.

Since December 2010, when homes and businesses where swamped with stormwater, including the Sanitation District facility, by a modest storm, the Public Works Department has staged a community workshop and presented at two Board of Supervisors meetings with little substantive progress.

The County has met with Cal Trans, State Parks, General Services (County Airport) and others, however again nothing of substance has resulted. Public Works has sole-sourced contracts with favored consultants to pursue prospective solutions. So far, the County has developed a scheme of pumps and pipelines to convey stormwater flow from low lying areas to Arroyo Grande Creek and the Pacific Ocean. In regulatory vernacular, this is considered a surface water discharge, which raises a stringent set of regulatory requirements imposed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

What’s ironic is that the Public Works Department failed to attend to just one flap-gate at the Meadow Creek Lagoon in December last year, how do they intend to maintain and insure operations of multiple pumps and outfalls around town?

The other less-than-sophisticated engineering solution being developed by Public Works proposes to construct a berm around the hardest hit area of Oceano referred to as “the Island.”  The berm around the beachside neighborhood would be reinforced with concrete K-Rail.  K-Rail are concrete barricades seen on construction sites and freeways.  This low tech solution may work, but the war-zone look is not conducive to maintaining property values.  Are the residents of “the Island” rebuilding their homes only to be faced with further flooding and/or the visual blight of band-aid improvements?

Here are a number of facts to consider in pondering the flooding situation in Oceano:

1. Arroyo Grande Creek did not over top in December of last year or at all during the winter of 2010-11.  Moreover, the Arroyo Grande Creek flood channel and proposed improvements are on an independent track in accordance with the Waterway Management Plan for permitting, financing and construction already approved by the Board.

2. The chronic flooding at Highway 1 and 13th Street has been solved (by Cal Trans).  Now this water crosses the County Airport and flows into “the Island.”

3. The Public Works Department and their consultants will be paid during the extra process of study, hydraulic analysis and engineering. These costs for any fix or improvements will be paid for by Oceano residents as the “benefiting” properties.  The County will get paid; win, lose or draw.

4. The County doesn’t seem to remember the completed 2004 Drainage and Flood Control Study prepared for Oceano by the County which recommended construction of a terminal stormwater basin on five acres of County owned airport land. This was the preferred near-term project identified in the 2004 study.

Coincidently, one of the pump locations proposed by the County is at the intersection of Lakeside Avenue and Aloha Place precisely where concentrated stormwater runs off the airport property into “the Island” and Sanitation District.

The County has intentionally been silent on the airport properties complicity in the flooding and drainage issues. What cannot be ignored is that the airport land acts as a dam and directs stormwater around it into areas ill-prepared to receive even incremental volumes of additional stormwater.

Any meaningful solution to the chronic flooding in Oceano must include a discussion of the airport property.

The mystery of why the County has been unwilling to talk about the airport land is deepened considering the operations at the airport are not profitable.

Perhaps it’s the potential liability associated with the raw sewage spill in December of 2010 from the Sanitation District or maybe the Supervisors including District 4 Supervisor Paul Teixeira may be afraid of the Airplane Pilots and Owner’s Association (APOA). I guess that is just politics. Let’s see residents/constituents or out of town pilots, hmmm?

The bottom line is that the flooding in Oceano and the lack of meaningful responsiveness by the County is just another example in Oceano history of residents realizing negative impacts with no benefits.

Jeff Edwards is a 35-year SLO County resident and professional land planner.

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Some one needs to protect us from Jeff Edwards and his girlfriend.

I find it difficult to take anything Edwards says seriously. IMO he’s an opportunist and his antics in LO leave a lot to be desired. Personally I’m open to the idea about developing the airport, if done right it could generate a lot of needed income for Oceano. But that should be left up to the people of Oceano, they should have the vote on that.

I agree with you on you comments about the writer. He is a self serving person who wants to develop the Oceano airport for personal gain.

But, that being said,in regards to flooding I must say that the county has a long history of allowing building in questionably low lying areas and to allow illogical building standards through discretionary permits. And drainage and flood issues surface every year in many areas of the county, primarily the low lying unincorporated ones.

Santa Margarita for example has had flooding problems since the 1800’s because it was subdivided and built in a low lying area of high ground water( which is exactly why the railroad picked this spot for re watering their engines on the route to southern California)and the county allowed many homes be built in in the 1970’s and 1980’s in low lying areas with only 6″ foundation level out of grade.

The county also had a MOU permit with CA DFG to clean the ditches and culverts countywide until about ten years ago, mainly because of ramped up environmental constraints and liability issues.

Today because of volunteer efforts by the citizens of the Santa Margarita community, the CSA23 and some creative projects done through the SLO Co Public Works Department to clean out the drainage conveniences and clean out the creeks there has not been any flooding in town for awhile.

“The bottom line is that the flooding in Oceano and the lack of meaningful responsiveness by the County is just another example in Oceano history of residents realizing negative impacts with no benefits.”

Bottom line is, local citizens stepping up and actually helping themselves, and by working with the county, it is posible to creatively solve almost any problem. If there is a desire to do so…

There is no need to close down the Oceano Airport with the County of San Luis Obispo’s full knowledge of where this water is coming from. All of this water can be stored along State Highway 1 in the Counties 10 foot 1995 easement as provided by the Rail Road!

These are the Documents and letters of whiteness, that where withheld from Discovery by The County Of San Luis Obispo and finally given to us in full on December 2, 2008 five months after our first trial with many depositions and whiteness testimony now being worthless This is how Union Pacific Railroad admitted part of exhibit # 579 and how Judge Tangeman allowed evidence to be withheld from discovery as seen in their statements at trial! The railroad States “And for the purpose of the exhibits we don’t need the photographs.” Judge Tangeman– States: “All Right”

County of San Luis Obispo and State of California Tort liability Drainage West of State Highway 1 is now know publically with the December 2011 rains! please let it be known that the Oceano Airport does not need to be closed and the following people do not need to have there houses flooded!

Bill Tatum 1539 Fountain Ave. —2001 flooding of Entire Street. Sporadic some flooding every year

Larry A Baughman–Owner of 1519 Fountain Ave. Statement house Floods every winter– Ex-OCSD Director

Chuck Bachman–1519 and 1525 Fountain Ave. Property on Fountain Floods every year with 6- 18 inch’s of water.

Greg S. McGree– Fountain Ave knowledge

Marquis Miller 548 Honolulu “Heavy Rains overflow lagoon”

Less Brown–652 Air Park Dr.

Jesser Esser–608 Air park Dr. “Storm Water Drainage Ditch next to Oceano Airport” “Years of neglect by SLO County”

John W. Carter 1778 Aloha Place

Mary Fernald 590 Honolulu St. Problems in last five years

David and Penny Villalba 567-571 Honolulu– Every time it Rains house up to 6-12′

Raoul Cristin 1810 Laguna Drive

Jan Dilo, Department of Public Services San Luis Obispo County

R. George Rosenberg, Deputy Director of General Services County Of San Luis Obispo

Cynthia M. Joselson/Dennis A.Huebner—Photos

Franklin C. Owen –Flooding in the Oceano Airport neighborhood.

Keith pelemeyer-Pismo State Beach maintenance Supervisor

In County of San Luis Obispo Files with drainage Studies and Color photos

September 7, 1990 San Luis Obispo County letter to Planning Department drainage in Oceano, Street improvements /Sidewalks

October 1, 1990 County Of San Luis Obispo letter to OCSD Water Run off and Drainage

October 17, 1990 Letter from John L. Wallace to OCSD Drainage in Oceano, Retention Basins, County Requirements

January 15, 1991 San Luis Obispo County letter to OCSD overall study of drainage patterns

March 15, 1991 San Luis Obispo County Letter to OCSD of Drainage nuisance problems and solutions by the County of Slo

May 3, 1991 OCSD letter to SLO County Analysis of OCSD Storm Drainage Problem regarding future County Building Permits

September 23, 1991 letter to Ruth Bracket Sidewalks

September 25, 1991 letter from Ruth Brackett not talking about Paso Robles and 13th streets

November 18, 1991Oceano Halcyon Advisory Committee minutes Drainage in Oceano not Paso Robles and 13th streets ally ways sidewalks

February 10, 1992 Draft letter Sidewalks

February 12, 1992 OCSD Meeting minutes Regarding Cienaga flooding County Responsibility Drainage Director Baughman.

March 11, 1992 OCSD letter regarding Flooding of Oceano Slough below State highway 1

February 10, 1993 OCSD Minutes 11 C. Video of flooding problem on highway 1

June 8, 1993 OCSD memorandum Meeting on Arroyo Grande outfall

February 23, 1994 OCSD meeting minutes Concerns West of State highway 1

February 25, 1994 San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District letter to Tony Boyd County Engineering Dept.

July 26, 1995 OCSD Meeting minutes Cienaga flooding problem Concern with railroad subdividing their property. A problem at Paso Robles Street

January 10, 1997 OCSD Letter to planning Commission County of San Luis Obispo

October 8, 1997 OCSD meeting Minutes Drainage Problems Bill Bookout Specifically on Airpark and Fountain Ave.

May 13, 1998 OCSD meeting Minutes “Front and Cienaga Drainage problem

October 14, 1999 San Luis Obispo County letter and documents of concern to Union Pacific Railroad regarding Cienaga Drainage not Paso Robles St.

January 25, 1999 letter from OCSD to Khatchik h. Achadjian-issues-Flooding and Drainage channel behind Fountain Ave.

January 29, 1999 County Supervisor katcho Achadjian Letter to OCSD

February 5, 1999 OCSD letter to County regarding highway 1 Drainage issues not Paso Robles street.

November 10, 1999 Louis e. Wheeler letter to K.H. Achadjian

Whiteness Direct knowledge of State Highway 1 Drainage

Jay Jamison showing no flooding in 2002 with his knowledge of Highway 1.

Mark Hutctenreuther, knowledge of highway 1

Loni Silkwood, 1611 Paso Robles St Knowledge of highway 1–.

Jak Harris, knowledge of highway 1

Stanly Manel, knowledge of highway 1

Wilford P. Deschenes, knowledge of highway 1

R. Bliver, knowledge of highway 1

Jerry Bunin, 2280 Paso Robles St. Knowledge of highway 1–

Luis Wheeler, knowledge of highway 1 with photos taken of highway 1 and withheld from discovery including drainage in front of Oceano Market and Oceano Nursery.

Larry A Baughman–Owner of 1519 Fountain Ave. Ex OCSD Director with knowledge of drainage through County property.

“We Own a home at 1519 Fountain Ave which is currently rented to Chuck Bachman. It floods every winter with up to a foot of water in the living room, causing Mr. Bachman to move to a Motel.”

“Water At The Corner Of 13th/Paso Robles/And Highway 1 Runs (Drains) Under The Railroad Tracks Across Railroad Ave And Collects In The Area Highlighted In Yellow On The Reverse. Something Has To Be Done To Get That Water To The Lagoon Or South To The Ag Creek At The East End Of Airport Runway. The End Of Fountain Ave Floods Every Winter. Larry Baughman”

Daniel Dena Neill–2640 Grell Ln. Safety Concerns on Paso Robles Street. Sidewalks and Alley ways paved with proper drainage.

Josue Astrero,Larry A Baughman–Knowledge of State Highway 1

Pat Clegg, Knowledge of State Highway 1

Sharon Collester, Knowledge of State Highway 1

Alan & Liane Barta, Knowledge of State Highway 1–2450 Paso Robles Street

Wando Cebulla, Knowledge of State Highway 1

Fred Cheda, 2231 Paso Robles Street–Knowledge of State Highway 1

Katherine B. Escobar 1627 Front Street, Knowledge of State Highway 1

Ben Harvey knowledge of Cal Trans changes to State Highway 1

Florence Welles 2431 Paso Robles Street.

Marylice Mankins

Eric Johnson Ally way knowledge

Herb West Knowledge of State Highway 1

Mark and Kristine Munro County Blaime wasting money on Study

Yvonne Putman 2591 Paso Robles–County Records

Robert W. Raymond, Knowledge of State Highway 1–poor county planning–County Eng. Photos

Charles E Royal 1561 16th between Warner and Wilmar Errosion problems

Chris & Linda Schroder ‘The End of 13th st. at Cienaga

James &Throck Scudder –“Warner & 15th-water travels down 15th and Warner”

Dean Sorensean 561 Security Court ‘Several inches to 1 foot depending on amount and length of rain

Ailo Stananage 547 Security Court– County Liability

Dan Striciculerda 1541 Wilmar Ave. “Flooding on Wilmar-between 14th &16th

Fred Van Slyke flooding at cienaga 7 front every time it rains

The flooding of the airport property does not need to happen as seen at

It is a shame, that the County of San Luis Obispo would withhold evidence from judge Martin J. tangeman as seen in the Inverse Condemnation case Bookout v. state of California.

What a back handed scum manuever Jeff-That’s greedy, misleading and SELF SERVING!

Whatever he’s selling, you don’t want any, Oceano. This guy doesn’t have the truth in him. He has left Los Osos with millions in unfinshed, abandoned properties. He went BK leaving contractors and suppliers unpaid. He was busted in the past forging a geo. report on a project.

It’s interesting that Mr. Edwards refers to the storm event as ‘modest’ when all of the weather services refer to it as much more than modest. The utilization of understatement and overkill in this opinion are less than evenhanded and tend to indicate that Mr. Edwards’ conclusion that the airport is at fault for the flooding is somewhat suspect (at the very least).

It is important to disclose Jeff Edwards’ vested interest in writing these opinions blaming the Oceano airport for flooding. Edwards has been attempting to get the county airport closed for over a year now, with the desire to profit from its closing by building a massive development on the property including plans for two hotels, multiple-family housing, commercial components, and senior housing. After his tactic of holding a series of meetings about closing the airport (that pilots were denied entry to) failed, he is now trying to get the airport closed by claiming it is the cause of flooding, despite no reputable study indicating that this is true. The county has indicated many times that they feel the airport is a vital part of the community and have no plans to close it. This feeling is shared by the vast majority of the residents in the area.

If Edwards claims he is now an expert on the causes of flooding in Oceano and believes the airport is the cause, then he should be able to suggest a solution to keep the airport from “acting as a dam” that does not involve closing the airport so he can profit from developing the property.

For more information on Edwards’ past efforts to get the airport closed for his own personal gain, please read the following New Times and Cal Coast News articles:

Keep the pressure on Adam Hill, Paul Teixeira, and the county supervisors to resolve this problem. I would hate to think that people will have to start filing law suits over damage to get anything done.

The best way to resolve the issue would be to tear down the levees and let the seasonal flood waters deposit sediment and nutrients onto the farm fields, as the creek has done for millennia. Man in his cleverness has created a perennial maintenance problem by erecting the levees and allowing residential and commercial development in the flood plain.

Do I expect the levees to come down? Of course not. But do I expect the flood control district has the ability and wherewithal to “fix” the flooding, no I don’t expect that either.

What? You mean allow a natural process take place? Unknown territory.