A resident’s open letter to SLO County supervisors

August 10, 2013

Seroka yardOPINION By LEANN SEROKA

Dear Supervisors Debbie Arnold and Frank Mecham:

I have been following the water issue for a number of months now. My interest was piqued after receiving a letter. This letter was not addressed to me, but the previous owner. We have been receiving mail for this person since we bought the house in a foreclosure in fall of 2010.

After many attempts to get it fixed I said, “Forget it. If this is important mail they will soon miss it and fix it.”

But this letter was different. It was not from a bank or the part of the “junk” that comes to our mail boxes. The letter was about the water issue in our area. Now this piqued my concern because in the letter it said wells are going to be “monitored.”

Before I go on I want to tell you a little about my family. My husbands name is Dustin and I’m Leann Seroka. We are both from the Central Valley town of Clovis. In 2010 we married and I moved to Paso Robles to join my husband. Dustin works as a CHP officer north of Paso Robles.

Later that year we bought our first house. We had a tight budget and needed land for the two horses I owned. We bought out in the Ground Squirrel/ Forked Horn area. The house was new but the land it sat on was completely bare. The only thing we saved on the property was the perimeter fence.

Over the past three years our property improvement went like this: horse fencing and gates; concrete back patio and walkway; patio covering; round pen; garden fencing. And all the while fixing what the previous owner left broken.

We are both 26 now and will be caring for two children by the end of this year. To say the least we barely make it by some months. I grew up in the city. Never in my parents’ wildest dream would they have thought I would grow up to be where I am at now. That all changed when I fell head over heels for horses. I have learned how to care for a garden, raise my own meat, and make the most out of my land.

When we did our inspection of the property before buying it, we knew we had a deep well with good recovery time. I had not heard much of any problems until this letter arrived. To say the least I was angry. Here we are, on a two-acre piece of property that needed water to say the least.

Now we don’t have a lawn, let alone a irrigation system to water the newly-planted fruit from the past couple of years. Everything is done by hand — my hand. I look out my window and see the most beautiful picture a young adult could ask for. A swing on the front porch looking at a green landscape (provided by the vineyards) and the golden mountains, just north of the 46 east. Every beautiful day I thank the Lord for everything he has given me. I don’t know anyone as young as me that has what I look at everyday.

This reality of the watering issue angers me. I look at and drive past hundreds of acres of grapes everyday. They are beautiful, but I pray they are not the reason someday I might not be able to afford to live on my little slice of paradise. If my well goes dry, I don’t know where the money would even come from. We carry a house payment, two auto payments and many more expenses.

I wish my money could come from the ground but the truth is, it doesn’t. I’m due with our second child in six short weeks. I am a strong person and that stems from the “prove you wrong attitude” I developed competing in high school. It would break my heart to have to leave due to not being able to sustain our life here.

I don’t expect the city to provide me with water when my well goes dry. I purchased this property with a well and the knowledge that if it goes dry I have to fix it. Why should I have to worry about if I should flush a toilet or washing laundry? I live here. The owners of these vineyards more than likely have fountains, pools, and a huge lawn. It will never cross their minds that their vineyards are affecting their neighbors. They don’t have to see us everyday, or even wave. Why should they have to care what is going on? The water crisis will only start affecting them if they are monitored and fined when the allowed amount of water is exceeded for their needs, or the basin is gone.

The truth is vineyards have to come second to home owners. I have been following the debate and agree that grapes don’t use as much water as “traditional” crops. That’s right, they don’t. But I don’t see corn or alfalfa grown on the side of a hill. The truth is we are a smart generation. If we want to find a way we will. The available real estate that can’t be utilized by “traditional crops” can be vineyards.

What upsets me the most  is that when it comes down to it, I won’t win. I don’t have the funds to get my family through a total dry spell. When I drive down my road into town I see new grape vines going in. Years down the road, they will still be there and the reality is I may not be. I want my two boys to be able to ride their horses down the road one day and still see the beautiful views I see now.

We live here. I want to be part of this future Paso Robles is creating. You, our supervisors, have been elected by me, us, the people of Paso Robles, to protect and serve us. My husband serves this state everyday as do many others. The reality is he may not come home one day.

As our elected officers, we depend on you to help the people who live here, not just the few that own the most land. My vote and my neighbors’ vote helped get you to where you are today. The community believes in you; don’t let us down or you might be replaced on the next go-around. You may not carry a gun to protect the people you serve, but we place our future in you hands. Be the strong people you were hired to be.

 


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36 Comments

  1. KimM says:

    Exactly 1122 words and not one of them explains where she stands, or why she is so upset.

    Is she for meters, or against them?

    Does she think metering is going to protect her way of life, or endanger it?

    Who wrote the letter?

    What did it say? A quote, or two would be nice.

    The power to measure is the power to control.

    Control is the opposite of freedom.

    Water rights are attached to property.

    You cede your water rights when you allow the government to monitor, measure and control your water usage.

    The power to license, fee and fine is the power to restrict and even abolish your freedom.

    The assumption that the government is going to automatically come down on the side of protecting “the little guy” is quite naive, to say the least.

    Look into “Council of Governments” and “Public-Private Partnerships.”

    Your freedoms are getting ready to be sucked down the memory hole by these unconstitutional entities.

    (-9) 15 Total Votes - 3 up - 12 down
  2. 4paso says:

    First of all, Leann, welcome to Paso Robles. It is people like you that are the essence of where we live. You have chosen a rural lifestyle, are young and trying to make a good life, working hard. You have been upset by a letter that you received about potential issues with your water supply. It is not clear from article who the letter is from. Also unclear is if you have a problem with your well. Do you? or are you just concerned because of the letter. There is no doubt that well levels are dropping based on the facts. If you need help because your well is dry, we as a community should help you. If you are just concerned based on the letter that is fine and it is good to weigh in and encourage positive action. Unfortunately the politics prey on letters like yours and fan the hysterical flames of emotional reaction and have the potential to make short term bad decisions. Funny that the two Supervisors who have no stake in the game are the strongest advocates to pass an emergency ordinance. What do they have to lose? Frank and Debbie will answer every day to the people in their district. Do you think Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson really worry about what the unintended consequences of an emotional reaction to a real problem that demands very reasoned, deliberate, rational and respectful approach? Since you are relatively new here, you probably don’t know them but clearly based on their personal and professional (mis)behavior it is unlikely.
    Don’t get me wrong. We have a problem. The problem should be solved by the Supervisors in the area with the help of the Committee that has been set up to analyze, review, and discuss openly the potential solutions to the decline of the basin. Gibson and Hill have clearly demonstrated that they do not have the moral or professional foundation to deal with issues in their own districts, much less in our backyards.
    In closing, hang in there. If you need help, it is my experience that the Community will be there to help you. Thank you for expressing your concerns.

    (-2) 24 Total Votes - 11 up - 13 down
    • WiserGuy says:

      Correction to above:

      Debbie Arnold answers once EACH WEEK to lobbyist Mike Brown whose interests are based on who is paying him and how much he is being paid, and, if you believe his bigoted extremist rhetoric , people who are out to quash the “commies” and “socialists.” . Frank Mecham answers once each month, at least, to Mike Brown, who acts like her boss, freely admitting he tells her how he would like her to vote and other ways to help his clients. Mike Brown funnels “campaign money” to both Arnold and Mecham.

      Unless Leann starts paying Arnold, Mecham or Brown, she doesn’t have a chance of being “answered to” to the same degree that the multi-millionaire lobbyists do. I doubt Arnold will be reserving a place each week on her calendar for Leann. And if I’m not mistaken, Brown does not even live in either Arnold’s or Mecham’s district.

      (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
      • Moderator says:

        your comment was lost in the queue now found, sorry for the delay .

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  3. mkaney says:

    Is it just me or is it telling that these people are 26 years old, the husband a CHP officer, and they own a home, land, and two horses? Certainly, homeowners need to come before vineyards, but they are either completely over extended already hence inspiring them to fight for every dime, or he is making way more than I even imagined a CHP officer makes (and I imagined it to be pretty high). This is what stood out to me in this piece, above anything she was actually writing about.

    (-17) 43 Total Votes - 13 up - 30 down

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