Morro Bay council picks preferred sewer location

December 12, 2013

IMG_1873The Morro Bay City Council has chosen a property in the Morro Valley near Highway 41 as its preferred location for a new sewage treatment plant. [Tribune]

The plant is currently located near the beach at the end of Atascadero Road. In 2003, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered Morro Bay and Cayucos to upgrade the plant, and earlier this year, the California Coastal Commission said it wanted the plant moved one mile from the coastline.

On Tuesday, the council followed the recommendation of planning consultant John Rickenbach and identified the Morro Valley site as the preferred location among seven contenders.

The Morro Valley site consists of two parcels totaling 446 acres east of the city on the north side of Highway 41. Construction of a sewage plant at the site is estimated to cost $100 million.

City staff previously recommended moving the plant to the site of the closing Morro Bay Power Plant, but the council rejected that proposal Tuesday. The power plant site had the lowest estimated constructions costs, $90 million, but the council said it was too close to residents and had potential for other uses.

As backups to the Morro Valley site, the council chose a Chorro Valley location near Highway 1 and Morro Bay Boulevard and the 36-acre Giannini property east of Highway 1 and overlooking Morro Valley.

The council also decided to explore the possibility of a shared sewage treatment plant with the California Men’s Colony, which would be located on the Cuesta College campus.


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It goes to the same old problem…..people with their heads in the sand. All we can do who want to have a better city is to keep on keeping on. There is a lot of work to do and Rob Livick deserves our support in order to work well with our Council majority. The mean, nasty and awful folks can meet together and slap their own backs, and shake their heads at the irony of it all….whatever works for them. I’m looking for a bright new beginning for the New Year. happy holidays everyone. .

Cowpetal seems to have missed the previously-posted letter written by Mary Shallenberger. The attempts of cowpetal and others to blame the moving of the plant on Irons and his supporters clearly make absolutely no sense in light of the words of the person who was chair of the Coastal Commission at the time the old site was rejected.

Attempts to portray Irons supporters as a “well-heeled minority” are equally silly. Most Irons supporters are anything but “well-heeled” and many are retired and on fixed incomes, or young families just starting out. The adjective “well-heeled” does, however, rather nicely fit the old boy/old girl club that got booted out of power last June and evidently will say pretty much anything in an effort to regain that power.

Irons and his supporters understand that there is no choice but to move the plant, and that Irons, Christine Johnson, and Noah Smukler are doing and will do everything possible to control costs. NOBODY wants higher bills.

It is also important to note that the $83 million the consultants estimated it would have cost to build the plant at the old site is not so far off of the $100 million estimated for the Morro Valley site, and that the consultants have clearly stated that these are for comparison purposes only. They are unlikely to be final costs, which are expected to be lower.

Regarding the reasons the plant must be moved, please consider the following words, published in today’s Tribune, and written by Ms. Shallenberger, and see the complete text of her letter a few posts down.

“The newly elected mayor was not to blame but bore the brunt of my frustration because he was representing the city at the hearing. True culpability lay with the former City Council majority and the city’s consultants, who advised the city to press ahead, at great expense to all concerned, with an illconceived project.”


“The commission made a fully informed decision, supported by your sitting mayor. Our staff recommended denial of the permit, and commissioners agreed because the project as designed clearly failed to meet the requirements of the California Coastal Act and Morro Bay’s Local Coastal Program.”


“The mayor and current City Council should be commended for diligently acting on the strong message the commission sent”

Unfortunately, MajorityFan, we have traded the “gang of Yatesians” (your term) for the “gang of Ironsites,” flipping from one extreme to the other, so Morro Bay really isn’t any better off than before…

The Yatesians wanted to build on the now-defunct old site to save millions and the Ironsites prefer Morro Bay homeowners pay sewer bills in excess of $100 a month. Is that what you call a “special early Christmas gift” for Morro Bay homeowners? Really? Maybe it is for you, MBA1 and the well-heeled minority who can afford it, but it won’t work for the real majority in Morro Bay. This is the gritty truth the Ironsites don’t want to talk about and avoid like the plague.

MBA1 pumps out reams of PR for the council majority and believes propaganda is truth, but the people majority of Morro Bay cannot afford to entertain such expensive fantasies.

I hope you realize that the voters of Morro Bay will ultimately determine IF they want to pay for the treatment plant, not the gang of Yatesians and not the gang of Ironsites. Thank God. Because if it was up to either gang, the community would never have a choice and the whole town would be the loser.

And here we go again with the sales pitch for the person who wants to demonize both sides and then run for mayor as the savior of the town. That will not work very well though – there’s too much evidence this person is a dyed-in-the-wool “Yatsian” masquerading as an independent.

You say, “the voters of Morro Bay will ultimately determine IF they want to pay for the treatment plant”. Well, if they don’t pay for it, the Water Board will be levying huge fines that will add up quickly and make the cost of a new plant look very attractive very quickly. We have been operating under that 301(h) waiver far too long, and the Water Board is not amused. If you think the CCC is picking on you, wait until the Water Board goes on the offensive. The voters have to approve the plant – there really is no choice and that is not propaganda. That’s fact.

As for your statement, “The Yatesians wanted to build on the now-defunct old site to save millions and the Ironsites prefer Morro Bay homeowners pay sewer bills in excess of $100 a month.”, nonsense. Pease note that the same consultants who estimated the costs for the sites still in contention also estimated that IT WOULD HAVE COST $83 MILLION TO BUILD THE PLANT ON THE OLD SITE. Look it up – 427th page of the latest document released by the consultants. That’s way more than the $34 million to #38 million that the recallers have been throwing around.

Also, keep in mind that we CANNOT build the plant at the old site because, as the CCC and many others have made clear, it is in a 100-year flood zone, a tsunami zone, and would violate many other provisions of the Coastal Act and our own LCP. That is not propaganda. It’s fact. Look it up. The Coastal Act and LCP are online and readily available.

The failed project even violated Morro Bay’s own zoning code, and the project team failed to notice that. Brilliant. The target site is zoned for light industrial – not heavy industrial use. How they could have designed a whole project without checking the zoning incomprehensible – but not surprising given who was running things at the time.

I haven’t seen a flood there in 100 years,the last flood we had that shut down Quintana Rd in front of the now Estero Glass had 4 feet of water flowing thru there,there wa sno flood at the concrete plant or the city yard, so that argument is lame.

Wow, you’ve been here in Morro Bay for 100 years? But seriously, every flood is different and flood waters HAVE reached the area – and within the last 100 years too.

In the Wallace Group 2009 Flood Hazard Study, it is stated that, “Staff coordinates with the neighboring Hanson Aggregate owners regarding the orientation of their yard and supplies. Flood waters from the southeast first cross the Hanson property. When Hanson has stock on hand of large concrete block, they store the blocks on-site in a manner that directs flood waters to Atascadero Road rather than through the WWTP.”

Really, when did flood waters reach the city yard/sewer plant,the last 100 year flood in 1995 didn’t get to the concrete plant or city yard,I was in and out of that area all day and water was not to flood stage in those yards.