Morro Bay battling California Coastal Commission

September 28, 2012

While Morro Bay needs to upgrade its aging sewer plant, can it afford the extra $60 million in cost needed to comply with the California Coastal Commission’s recommendation that the plant be moved a mile from the coastline?

California’s coastal communities are marred with aging sewer plants and other infrastructures in dire need of upgrades. But the modernization of these facilities is being delayed while the California Coastal Commission discusses whether these structures should be permitted to stay on the waterfront. [WallStreetJournal]

For years, officials in Morro Bay have worked to rebuild the city’s nearly 60-year-old sewage-treatment plant. Last year, the commission, which regulates development along the state’s beaches, challenged the rebuilding permit for the plant. And now the commission wants the city to move the plant a mile from the coastline.

Morro Bay city officials argue that such a move would add up to seven years to the three-year project and 50 percent more to its estimated $60 million cost which could double sewer bills.

The Coastal Commission is expected to render a decision as soon as October.

Meanwhile, the commission is recommending communities along the coastline relocate or study relocating landfills, highways, bike paths and parking lots further inland.




  1. wauerbach says:

    Having worked extensively with public agencies like the Coastal Commission for 30 years, i am swayed by the argument that they will never approve any use of the former sewer plant property that results in any significant direct economic benefit to the city. Maybe open space of some kind that preserves views and public access. Parks don’t; generate much income though, so that offset to moving the plant just doesn’t hold water.

    But having said that, it still seems like the right thing to do for the long term. Somebody other than the C.C. needs to develop a stronger economic argument for moving the plant.

    Wish the discourse on this subject were more civilized….

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. Insight says:

    It’s funny how a $6 million upgrade has ballooned into $10 of millions of dollars and a call to move the plant. The plant was to go full tertiary treated and it had the backing of all regulatory agencies at the time of conception but a contracted advisory firm got a hold of it and turned it around and upside down. The fix is in Morro Bay and you can kiss that disposable income good-bye. Some of that extra money could have gone to fixing the broken down and leaking collection system. Oops! Did I let another cat out of the bag. It’s no secret. I’m just stating the obvious.

    (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      You are so right, insight. The sewer lines are falling apart and obviously leaking sewage into the ground all over town. This was brought to the attention of the Council years ago, but city staff did what they always do – denied there is a problem, so little has been done.

      (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
  3. taxpayer says:

    Warning to all seniors and others on fixed incomes: If this wastewater treatment plant is not built in it’s current location you can all expect your water and sewer bills to double. Morro Bay will become the new Los Osos. It took them over 35 years to build a wastewater treatment plant and it’s still not done. These new called visionaries who are getting ready to take over the City Council could care less how much you have to pay. They are either well-off or rent their houses. Anyone who cares about the future of Morro Bay should let the Coastal Commission and the new council hear how you really feel. Because of the low turnout in the last election Morro Bay is in desperate straits. Don’t let these people destroy a City where many of you have lived for the last 50 years. They don’t care what it costs. They think they’re smarter than the people who built Morro Bay. Stand up and be heard.

    (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
    • brook says:

      The truth is, just because your momma and papa happened to be in the vicinity of Morro Bay on the day you were born doesn’t give you dibs on smarts.

      If you were you wouldn’t have allowed a plethora (that means “a lot’) of ill-conceived development, just about obliterating (that means “destroying”) that :quaint little fishing village” you think belongs only to you.

      (-13) 21 Total Votes - 4 up - 17 down
      • taxpayer says:

        I rest my case. Here’s another new comer who has moved to a town to save the people who built it. The people who are going to pay for the folly of these people who want to move the sewer need to let their voices be heard.

        (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
        • brook says:

          You have no case. But feel free to rest. Your rhetoric is tired.

          (-7) 11 Total Votes - 2 up - 9 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Baloney. More of the same tired special interest group propaganda.

      (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
      • Human Reason says:

        . What is this special interest

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
        • taxpayer says:

          In the real world, that would be the taxpayers.

          (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
        • mbactivist1 says:

          That, as if you didn’t know, is the local developer/real estate bunch – the ones who control the current Morro Bay City Council majority and their senior staff.

          (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down
          • Human Reason says:

            Who is this local developer/real estate bunch bunch that you speak of?

            (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
  4. easymoney says:

    Much like the Los Osos Sewer Project , the devil is in the details. The longer they wait the more it will cost.
    And now with the loss of the eel grass I suspect even more scrutiny…
    Like snooky says:” It is practical to INVEST in a city like Morro Bay’s future. To argue otherwise is short-sighted.”
    But it is both wise and frugal to question costs of projects at this level…

    (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
  5. mbactivist1 says:

    This article is, unfortunately, full of ridiculous city and CSD propaganda. The current Council and CSD Board majorities and their senior staff have thoroughly mismanaged the project from the beginning, wasting millions of dollars due to sheer incompetence, and their dogged insistence on doing things their own way despite the good advice and recommendations given to them. One gets the the impression that none of them could manage their way out of a paper bag, let alone handle a large infrastructure project.

    Now, they claim to be concerned about our money. No way. Residents need to understand that the these people could not care less about saving taxpayer money. This has been demonstrated time after time; never more clearly than when they drove out PERC Water, a firm that would have been able to build a plant for many millions less than the contractors preferred by our local good old boy and girl network.

    The estimates of how much extra it would cost to move the plant are grossly inflated and are nothing more than a blatant and obvious scare tactic. It’s how our City and CSD officials and staff operate. Another example of their ridiculous propaganda is their rebuttal to the CCC staff report on the project. The CCC was right on target. The City and CSD’s document is pure nonsense. Please read the facts at

    Once the new Council majority takes office, we can expect some positive changes to occur. Meanwhile, please do not trust anything you hear from the Council and CSD Board majorities and their staff. They are NOT on the side of the taxpayer

    (-15) 41 Total Votes - 13 up - 28 down
    • Human Reason says:

      HAHAHA ! You claim the Wall Street Journal article is ridiculous and to get the true story you cite articles that you have personally written. That is funny.

      (22) 30 Total Votes - 26 up - 4 down
      • mbactivist1 says:

        No, Human Reason, you need to read more carefully. I did not say the WSJ article is ridiculous. I did say it contains ridiculous City and CSD propaganda – which one would expect since the writer interviewed City staff.

        Fortunately, it also contains intelligent commentary by John Diodati (who correctly stated that the cost estimates are overblown and that the City and CSD are throwing up “doomsday” scenarios.

        (-6) 18 Total Votes - 6 up - 12 down
        • Human Reason says:

          Do you list yourself as a reference on your résumé .

          (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
          • mbactivist1 says:

            You just get sillier and sillier. How about sticking to the topic at hand?

            (-9) 17 Total Votes - 4 up - 13 down
            • Human Reason says:

              I am sticking to the facts. You complain that the article is ridiculous and contains propaganda and tell people in order to learn the truth to go to different articles. Those articles are written by you and contain absolutely no basis in fact or reality. Do you deny writing the articles you cite.? Nothing Silly about that.

              (7) 15 Total Votes - 11 up - 4 down
              • mbactivist1 says:

                Wrong again, human unreasonable. Try reading.

                (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
                • Human Reason says:

                  So you deny your post says “Please read the facts at” and that the blog is written by you.

                  (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
                • taxpayer says:

                  Activist and Brook have already let us know their motto is, “The only way to defend the indefensible is through deceit.” They’re pretty good at it but one thing about trying to deceive people is that you always get caught. The property owners of Morro Bay are waking up to their propaganda.

                  (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
    • Human Reason says:

      Can not wait til the CCC staff report comes out in favor of the project at the current location..then what will you say?

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  6. racket says:

    Best comment so far, from the linked WSJ article:

    “The California Coastal Commission has led the fight against prosperity for almost a half century.”

    (23) 37 Total Votes - 30 up - 7 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Please be advised that the WSJ article says nothing of the kind. What racket is quoting is a COMMENT posted by WSJ reader.

      One important comment that actually IS IN THE ARTICLE is this: “Charles Lester, executive director of the Coastal Commission, said the agency is pushing towns to move infrastructure inland where practicable, out of concerns including erosion and the effect of rising sea levels due to climate change.”

      Clearly, the CCC’s actions regarding our WWTP are NOT about them picking on Morro Bay and Cayucos. They are about getting critical infrastructure out of areas where it can be impacted by rising sea levels, which will exacerbate the potential impacts of inland flooding and storm surges at the current WWTP site.

      The WSJ article says that the CCC has directed , “Ventura, San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo County and San Luis Obispo County” “relocate or study relocating landfills, highways, bike paths and parking lots further inland…” Sea level rise is REAL, and it is already impacting many communities.

      The WSJ is not the only publication writing about the issue. This USA Today article gives more information on the continued impacts of sea level rise on the California coast:

      (-12) 28 Total Votes - 8 up - 20 down
      • cheseburger says:

        Wasting millions of dollars due to sheer incompetence, the American governmental, insane way!
        Don’t know why anyone would put red on your comment unless the work for the CSD?

        (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
        • mbactivist1 says:

          It does appear that the city and CSD officials and their staffs have recruited all their pals this time. It won’t do them any good with the Coastal Commission though. I suspect that the Commission is fed up with that crew.

          So are the residents of Morro Bay, who voted by huge margins to elect a new Council majority made up of people intelligent enough to understand the issues, and dedicated to supporting the interests of residents now and into the future – a stark contrast to the current majority, which dances to the tune of the special interests.

          (-7) 17 Total Votes - 5 up - 12 down
          • brook says:

            It finally became obvious to the citizens that they were being led around in circles – expensive circles. I think the election had a strong message.
            A modern, efficient, durable solution with a realistic projected cost.
            The people who have been in charge so far have been utterly unable to grasp and execute that very simple concept. One has the wonder why.

            I think what we’re seeing now is the indignant bluster of losers.

            (-6) 16 Total Votes - 5 up - 11 down
            • mbactivist1 says:

              I agree, Brooke. It appears they have either recruited all their buddies, or have taken out new email addresses and set up new Cal Coast News ID’s so they can post lots of “likes” on their posts and “dislikes” on ours. Nice try, but it won’t impress the Coastal Commission :)

              (-4) 16 Total Votes - 6 up - 10 down
              • brook says:

                True, activist – the only way to defend the indefensible is with deceit.

                (-4) 8 Total Votes - 2 up - 6 down
                • taxpayer says:

                  The only way to defeat lies is with the truth.

                  (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
                • Human Reason says:

                  Like telling people to go to other articles that were written by activist

                  (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
                • mbactivist1 says:

                  Yes, and human reason and taxpayer are trying hard to do that – failing, but trying their darndest. It didn’t work in June, when their buddies were defeated in the election by huge margins, and it isn’t working now.

                  (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down
                • Human Reason says:

                  Sorry activist I do not live or have buddies in MB. But I do hate that you continually tell people to go to other sources when those sources are written by you.

                  (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down
  7. snooky156 says:

    “For years, officials in Morro Bay have worked to rebuild the city’s nearly 60-year-old sewage-treatment plant”. No. For years the City was content to discharge sewage into the ocean that was inadequately treated. They continued this practice under a waiver. The waiver will no longer be available after 2014. Moving the plant makes good, practical sense, though it is an INVESTMENT. Does it make sense that the city imports water from the State Water Project, uses it once, inadequately treats it, and then flushes it into the sea?

    Building a modern plant inland increases the value of surrounding lands near Morro Rock. It also places the plant nearer its water recycling customers in Agriculture and helps recharges groundwater, reducing the seawater intrusion threat.

    It is practical to INVEST in a city like Morro Bay’s future. To argue otherwise is short-sighted.

    (2) 34 Total Votes - 18 up - 16 down

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