Los Osos sewer costs escalating

April 10, 2013

lososos sewerBy KAREN VELIE

The cost to construct a sewer system in Los Osos is slated to run over its $173 million budget because of pay raises, extended contracts and under estimated workloads.

On Feb. 24, San Luis Obispo County’s Public Works Director Paavo Ogren approved a 3 percent pay raise for employees of HDR Engineering. The amendment makes the pay increase retroactive to Jan. 1.

As a result of the amendment, Cal Poly interns working on the project are now paid $49.44 an hour, five of the 27 HDR Engineering employees are making over $200 an hour with the highest paid employee making $267.20 an hour.

“The total of all payments to engineer under the agreement shall not exceed the agreement amount $6,891,632,” the amendment says.

However, on the county’s website it explains that the original estimates of construction management and designer costs are for a time period shorter that then the actual construction schedule because of a large number of lateral change requests and utility line conflicts.

“The planned schedule in each engineering agreement is significantly shorter than the actual construction schedule in the approved contracts for the collection system,” according to a report by project manager John Waddell. “The scope of work for both the construction manager and designer is required to continue throughout the duration of the construction contracts.”

County staff has recommended agreement amendments for both the construction manager and designer to provide them the additional funding. The county is planning to process the agreement amendments within the next two to four months.

In addition, the area in need of road repair is running about 50 percent larger than anticipated and the cost of digging the water recycling ponds is estimated to run several million dollars over budget, the county’s website says.



Good Luck Los Osos…this sewer has been desperately needed for three decades. At times there was a strong No Growth movement that always found ways to stop the sewer’s progress; and then there was the absolutely stupid location that made the project come to an end and now it seems to be underway. That’s a good thing. I for one will drive or bike to Los Osos often during this sewer construction to support the businesses that are there. Hang in there Los Osos residents you will be happy you did this.

The Gimlet Eye

It’s funny how inflation works:

“Inflation has now been institutionalized at a fairly constant 5% per year.

This has been scientifically determined to be the optimum level for generating the most revenue without causing public alarm. A 5% devaluation applies, not only to the money earned this year, but also to all that is left over from previous years.

At the end of the first year, a dollar is worth 95 cents. At the end of the second year, the 95 cents is reduced again by 5%, leaving its worth at 90 cents, and so on.

By the time a person has worked 20 years, the government will have confiscated 64% of every dollar he saved over those years.

By the time he has worked 45 years, the hidden tax will be 90%. The government will take virtually everything a person saves over a lifetime.”

G. Edward Griffin



The Gimlet Eye

What if the residents move away?

Where will the money come from?

LO might wind up a VERY expensive ghost town.


Residents who move usually sell their homes.


Too bad. Some people do not believe strongly enough to do something about it. The residents of L>O>

who fought the sewer felt convicted enough to fight it.

When SLO looks like Santa Maria (and it’s getting there) who will feel sorry for the residents of SLO.Will you feel sorry for the residents by the airport when they complain about bigger jets coming in and out at night??? Did they fight it?

When the people of AG and GB get billed for the damage done by Wallace group, will you feel sorry for them or Wallace?

When the people of Morro Bay and Cayugos are complaining about their sewer, will you feel sorry for them? How much do you think it will cost them? Should the anti-flood plain groups sit down and say oh, well?

How about all the people who were on the list for water in Cambria and now their CSD wants to speed it up for – guess what, newer and richer residents? Those who waited are getting shafted.

When the old time residents of Pismo get told they have to conserve water, what about all those new homes they want to build in Price Canyon? The oldies should just shut up and use less water so those new pricey homes can go in.

That about covers it.

Yes, when the contract was signed that should have been IT! No ifs, and and buts. The price was set then and it should be honored.


Not realistic. You can’t possibly know what delays there will be due to burials, unmarked water lines, or weather.


Why not? All contractors are supposed to plug those OBVIOUS possibilities in their bid, I do. If you don’t you’re scamming. They’re scamming.

I’ll try it your way on my next job. I’ll charge for watching Gunsmoke at home cuz it was raining that day, nah, I need to stay in business.

Where do you/they think the Chumash buried their dead for 10,000 yrs? Also, LO was put together with spit and chewing gum. Inspectors paid off, non-code and ugly work. Utilities are anywhere that was easy.

Aen’t you and Maria good friends of Paavo? REAL good friends.


Are you a contractor or are you just pretending?

So what is your sewer plan?

Were you complaining that you paid less for your house because of the spit and chewing gum infrastructure? Did you refuse to buy here out of respect for the dead?


This reporter is awful. The rates quoted are billable rates to HDR. The rates are excessive, but the employees do not make that kind of money. Karen, do your job and get the facts straight. Don’t just write BS to boost your agenda.


You said, “The rates quoted are billable rates to HDR” So they ARE the rates we are paying? What other “facts” matter? No one is going to care about what is deducted from their paychecks, just what its costing us! How is Karen NOT doing her job? And What is her Agenda as you stated? So if you know the “facts” then state them.


The article is misleading because the Cal Poly interns are NOT paid $49.44 per hour, and the five HDR employees mentioned are NOT making over $200 per hour, as the article says. Those are their agencies” respective billable hourly rates for the work that those people do.

When a local electrician or attorney perform a service for you and charge “X” per hour, they don’t get to keep that amount–it goes to their company and they get paid whatever their company pays them.

The article implies that the sewer project cost is excessive because the hourly wages of the workers are excessive, and quotes misleading rates.


IT’S STILL BEING CHARGED !!! LAH just answered your question.


“As a result of the amendment, Cal Poly interns working on the project are now paid $49.44 an hour, five of the 27 HDR Engineering employees are making over $200 an hour with the highest paid employee making $267.20 an hour.”

This excerpt says it all. Yes, you are paying that rate (or the sewer district is), but that is not what the article says.

Her agenda is to stir up emotion against the project based on misinformation. I believe the job of a reporter is to report the facts. There are many problems with this project, you don’t have to distort the facts up to make your point. Poor reporting is poor reporting.


I have been trying to point this out for months. It’s not about the issue itself. It’s about the reporting. So far, it’s like talking to a brick wall. A defensive brick wall.


Well, she does know what a hot emotional topic this has been over the past years for the Los osians. But if that is what HDR is billing at then you are just splitting hairs over it. She didn’t state “take home pay” ….but as you even stated the facts are those rates are correct!


Who cares if it’s an emotional topic? Why do so many commenters defend shoddy reporting as if it’s gospel? If you read the story, it’s clearly implicated that Cal Poly interns are pocketing 49 bucks an hour. Heck, it’s not even an implication. “Cal Poly interns working on the project are now paid $49.44 an hour…” I once worked for a company that charged clients $100 an hour for the work I did. My paycheck showed I made far less than half of that. So a story here would say I got paid $100 an hour. It’s just basic reporting. Either she didn’t understand, or she understood and didn’t care. Either way, it is poor reporting.


It’s not “clearly stated” if your thinking clearly.

I’m a contractor, I’ll charge 500 bucks an hr. to my next customer but be sure to inform them I’m only getting $50 of it. If they don’t buy it can I have them call you to clear things up?


It doesn’t matter if someone agrees to pay $500 for a job and you only get $50. What matters is if someone writes a story about it and says you are “paid $500 an hour.” See the difference?


I do, I thought the issue was the amt. more than who recieved it.


There is zero incentive for these guys to just get the job done! I have been in there trying to get past a barrier,2 guys standing there talking, waiving at me as I pass by. Must be the $200 hour guys. The longer they take the bigger the paycheck, cause in another 6 months Paavo will just give them another raise! How can they bid the job and then say it will take DOUBLE the repair work? Either they are milkin’ it (probable) or whoever bid it was not qualified to do so. 50% is just WAY to far off the mark!! And Millions more to dig the holes? You say you can do it for X amount DO IT! These increases will just never end when they can just ask for more$$$ and get it no problem!


You really don’t like the working man much do you?


Really Lynette? Thats your conclusion? No, You are wrong, I do like’ for the working man, I respect the working man, I work myself, and am honest and fair with employees. What I dont like is the manipulation of agreeing to do a job, then half way through changing the terms and jacking up the cost to a ridiculous percentage! I understand there are variances, I understand the unforeseen circumstances ex. finding the burial sites..etc..but to double the repair work? Either whoever quoted the job was not truthful or qualified or wants to suck as much out of this as he can.


I guess you didn’t read this part of the story:

“However, on the county’s website it explains that the original estimates of construction management and designer costs are for a time period shorter that then the actual construction schedule because of a large number of lateral change requests and utility line conflicts.”

The road repair part was agreed on some time ago. The roads were not in great shape then, but with all the heavy equipment rolling around on them, I have noticed that even the untouched roads are worse than they were.

I completely disagree with your criticisms. I suspect that you did not support Los Osos getting a sewer.


So don’t figure utility lines could be, I don’t know, in the ground? Or that laterals could be anywhere (read my earlier reply) or that some people during rehab didn’t lay a new lateral under their new driveway to prevent it having to be broken up during sewer const.? Like mine was.

You’re arguments were shot down long ago, you were part of the Maria, Paavo team who were proven to be, you know……….

Quit trying to re-write your history.


Utilities were put in a long time ago and were not always mapped. So how can you fix that now?

Laterals were mapped during the last project, even me as a newbie in 2005 knew that. So if you put in a new driveway without considering your lateral, you either were not paying attention or you thought the sewer would never come.

You just don’t want a sewer, do you.


The escalating costs of the sewer as indicated in the article don’t even include the decade of lost tax dollars that can be attributed to the CSD post recall.

Spent low interest loan money, lawsuits, enforcement actions, lost grant funding, none of which have been factored in the escalating costs.

Simply put, obstruction and delays = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


Citizens of Morro Bay: This is what you have to look forward to in the years ahead, brought to you by the newly elected Morro Bay City Council.


Yeah, let local government, crooked contractors and lying “scientific” reports by “experts” come into your town and hand you a bill for $30k when it was proven by REAL experts without a dog in the fight say $10k is what’s required.

It happened over and over again by various experts. Again, w/o their livelihood affecting their determination.

Where’s the mystery here?

Hey, remember when the the orig. contr. was ordered to hand over documents and replied the with the job trailer had been broken into and the docs stolen? Or when Paavo (who was/is the Pub. Works dir. running the sewer proj.) was literally in bed with Maria Kelly on the LOCSD?

Los Osans were the rest of the county’s piss-post who love hassling us. And now we’re 30k in debt. Do we STILL have to listen to dead, disproven crapola…forever? Go after MB and Cayucos folks now, will ya? We are busy working for the $3k for laterals and $30k for an obsolete sewer. Disgusting.


The hourly charge rates cited are hourly billing rates–not the gross hourly earnings of the employees mentioned. In addition to the gross hourly earnings, they include such things as the employers’ cost for that hour of FICA, unemployment insurance, health insurance including Obamacare, workman’s comp (considerable in this line of work) vacation, pension contributions, etc.

Rates for the private contractors (the larger ones) also include a chunk for taxes owed to the governments (state and federal) and profit for the company. The rates for County employees do not include the profit factor–just an actual cost recovery.

In many cases, these types of charge rates also include factors for company overhead costs (office rent, clerical support, liability insurance, etc.



When I buy something from the supermarket, it’s a done deal; the supermarket does not come back later and charge me more. It seems a contract says “We’ll pay you this to do that”. If there is a cost overrun, the company that was given the contract should eat it. Only in corrupt SLO county does the company come back and say they need more, and SLO county gives it to them. The big problem here is that there is no end in sight for this.


You are comparing buying a carton of milk at the supermarket to a construction job?Hmmmm…… I hear the Twilight Zone theme song playing in the background….


Lynette, are you benefiting financially from this project? Your responses are critical to anyone having concern over the rising costs of the project…hmmm…




But the issue is the fact were getting hit for any of it. Rain? 10,000 yrs of bodies being buried? etc. The possibility of utilities underground? Leaving those possibilites out can ONLY be intentional….and were.

I’ve been a contr. for 30 yrs. by the way. Although these things are plain to anyone, I wish.

Jorge Estrada

This is so bad that I can’t think of anything funny to write. The word sewer will likely become synonymous with the word litigation. Something to think about if ever suggested.


The word “sewer” while used in context to Los Osos has been flogged to death, poor thing. And all the 15+ sewer lawsuits are history. I think the word “sewer” in the future will conjure up the phrase “flush and forget.”

(If I never have to smell a septic tank being pumped again beyond this project, I’ll be happy.)


It’s obvious it would take a ton more than that. At least you’re finally understanding what “transferring” is all about. If Bo was still around he could have explained it to ya.


Ok, that was cold., but it’s your town too, ever consider fighting FOR it?


I did. I fought to get a sewer. Third world sewage status for your property doesn’t make it more valuable.


Correct!!! And litigate we did. So will your when they show up in your town to scam you.