Morro Bay considering building moratorium, or is it?

April 13, 2015
Jamie Irons

Mayor Jamie Irons

The Morro Bay City Council is set to discuss an emergency citywide ban on new construction, even though no council member supports the proposal, a report prepared by Mayor Jamie Irons states.

Following a public meeting and an email campaign by a citizen group that advocates stricter building codes, Irons placed an item on Tuesday’s agenda that asks the council to consider a request to adopt an urgency ordinance enacting a 45-day building moratorium. If adopted, the ordinance would bar the city from issuing building permits during that span.

Irons’ report on the issue states that, upon receiving the citizen request, no council member asked the mayor to place the moratorium proposal on a council agenda. Irons concluded the report by recommending that the council reject the proposal.

“I do not believe there is a level of urgency to warrant a building moratorium,” Irons wrote.

Rather than approving an urgency ordinance, Irons recommends that the council adopt a resolution committing the city to updating its general plan and local coastal plan in the next three years. The general plan and local coastal plan regulate future growth in Morro Bay.

Irons also suggested the council remain committed to developing neighborhood design guidelines. His report states that, for now, the city should not focus on developing new rules for commercial design or view protection.

On March 25, Irons attended a meeting held by the Neighborhood Compatibility Coalition (NECCO). At the end of the meeting, the approximately 80 people in attendance gave overwhelming support for a building moratorium that would last until new design guidelines take effect, according to Irons’ report.

The potential of new construction blocking existing views is of particular concern to NECCO members. Others argue that Morro Bay needs a building moratorium because of its water shortage and faulty sewer system.

Irons’ report states that, if the city were to adopt the moratorium, it would risk losing development impact and permit fees, as well as sales tax due to reduced or no building.

In order for the city to enact a building moratorium, four of five council members must vote in favor of the proposal. If the 45-day ban is enacted, the council could extend the temporary prohibition to last a total of two years.

The council is schedule to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Morro Bay Veterans’ Hall.

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Maybe Irons should put a moratorium in the time out of town his wife spends with Katie

So Neighborhood Compatibility Coalition (or is it NIMBY) wants to restrict building and the mayor reads that as a building moratorium…Wow no surprise there. Let’s see. I buy the lot for half the price as the one with the million $$$ view and now I’m gonna keep anyone from blocking my view by placing a moratorium. I know one council member who won’t mind her beachfront view from not being blocked. Is anyone in Morro Bay surprised by this newest move. New signage for Morro Bay entrance – “Closed for Business”

Let’s see. This City Council’s accomplishments so far are to: Get rid of the fireworks at the 4th of July, fire the best City Manager and City Attorney that this city has ever had, help drive the power plant out of existence which provided the impetus for the city to be incorporated, asking the Coastal Commission to deny our proposed wastewater project before a vote was taken, increase our water rates by 50%, hire an incompetent City Manager with no previous experience, attempting to triple the commercial fisherman’s docking fees and, now, a building moratorium. Morro Bay is circling the drain and on it’s way to becoming unincorporated. Next, the fire department will be contracted out to Cal Fire, then the Morro Bay Police will be contracted out to the Sheriff’s Department. Elections have consequences. So much damage in so little time.

Too bad this writer (taxpayer), didn’t watch the California Coastal Commission hearing or read the response by the chairman. Mayor Irons, did not request denial!!!,

How many times does that have to be said?

Morro Bay needed new blood in our government to do anything good. We need to move forward and not remain stuck in the same old ruts with the same old people in charge and getting everything for themselves. The Citizens spoke twice about their desire for a new Mayor and Council. Get over it!

There is no plan to do anything different with the Fire Department or the Police department, you are just trying to stir up trouble.

I am really proud of the accomplishments of the New Mayor and Councilmembers, they are respectful at all of the meetings, no more nasty remarks from the former council members. Thank goodness! those of us who enjoy going to the meetings can do so without being berated, and put down for our comments! I’m so excited about the future of Morro Bay, for the first time in a long time. Our quality of life has improved with Mayor Irons, Christine Johnson, Noah Smuckler, Matt Makowitski, and John Headding leading our City. The old guard has lost their playground and they are mad. Too bad!

Actually, I did watch the Coastal Commission hearing and Mayor Irons did request denial of the project against Cayucos’ wishes. The Chairperson of the Coastal Commission made it very clear that she didn’t appreciate that move. You can try to rewrite history all you want but it won’t work! If you’re excited about the future of Morro Bay under this City Council, you’re delusional. When you’re fire department is Cal Fire and the Sheriffs are your new police force tell us what a great job they’ve done.

Uh, did you happen to read the letter to the editor of the Trib, written by the Chairperson of the CCC – yes, the letter in which she apologized and said she actually supported Irons?

As to the fire department and police, the past City administrations left the City in horrible financial shape, making it necessary for the current Council to take steps to save money.

“irons recommends that the council adopt a resolution committing the city to updating its general plan and local coastal plan in the next three years. The general plan and local coastal plan regulate future growth in Morro” – wasn’t this the platform irons campaigned on more than 3 years ago? perhaps its time to concentrate on the mess that irons, smuckler and christine johnson have gotten the city into regarding the sewer plant – sounds like Cayucos is pulling out which will leave the residents of morro bay paying another 33% – not currently figured into the number that were just sent out!

The sewer plant “mess” was created by the prior administration when they tried to get away with building a new plant in a flood plain and tsunami zone. As if that were not bad enough, the soil along Atascadero Road between Main Street and the plant is unstable and subject to sinkholes That means the big sewer lines that carry sewage in that area are subject to collapse – something that happened in 1998, when a public health emergency was declared due to the failure of the main trunk line. There was also a major failure in the seventies.

In short, the current location of the facility is, and always was, a dumb place for a sewer plant.

As to Cayucos, Morro Bay will be far better off without that bunch. They have never been good “partners”. For example, take the outrageous claims they made at the last JPA meeting. They said they managed to do their “study” of plant sites in just a few months for a mere $20,000 while Morro Bay took two years and over $400,000. The statements were made as the Board tried to justify not paying their share of the costs by trying to make people think the City wasted money while the CSD was frugal and clever.

In fact, their so-called “study” was incomplete, to say the least, and even the consultants said so. CSD’s consultants’ proposal, dated 2/15/2013 says, “Typically, there are a series of work steps taken prior to developing conceptual alternatives that WSC will not be addressing in this work, ie meeting with regulatory agencies to determine the regulatory constraints in which the concepts will be developed. These typical steps can be time consuming to develop but would lead to a superior work product. WSC is focusing this scope of work on development of alternatives to provide the District with some “book end” alternatives and cost information that the District can use to inform its future decision making process. The preliminary conceptual alternatives will be suitable to that end, but could likely have significant flaws that further analysis and evaluation might uncover. The District will need to refine and develop these preliminary conceptual alternatives through future study and effort.”

So, they wanted us to believe they could base an intelligent decision on a “study” that the consultants themselves said could likely have significant flaws? Evidently so, but not everyone was fooled. Most of us know that you get what you pay for.

The final document provided to the CSD by their consultants says, “WSC recommends that the District coordinate with the other stakeholder agencies to consider these conceptual alternatives broadly, establish an evaluation and screening methodology, and select a set of preferred alternatives and sub-alternatives for more detailed evaluation and feasibility assessment.” Ah yes, that would be the work that Morro Bay did, the work for which the CSD is trying to get out of paying its fair share.

Same old same old.

Beyond that, their own manager has said it would be better for the CSD to be a customer than a partner. According to the minutes of the CSD meeting minutes for May 15, 2014, “Manager Koon said being a customer is the easiest route. The decision would then just be who’s going to give us the best rates. Monies saved by not being an owner can be reinvested in the community. So, it appears that their displays of outrage at not being consulted for this or that are just that – displays aimed at tricking and manipulating people to get what they want – which appears to be avoiding paying their fair share of costs

Missed a quotation mark in the last paragraph.

The quote from the CSD minutes is ““Manager Koon said being a customer is the easiest route. The decision would then just be who’s going to give us the best rates. Monies saved by not being an owner can be reinvested in the community. “

You were not here in 98 if I remember correctly, I was, I was working at the concrete plant hauling rubble to south main street to keep the fuel tanks from being washed out,I never saw any eveidnce of sink holes on west 41 and no flooding at the concrete plant or sewer plant,plenty of flooding on Quintana by the glass shop.

Maybe you didn’t see the sinkholes, but Ci8ty staff did. The following quotes are from an October 2, 1998 memorandum from Bill Boucher to the City Council. This is the document in which he asked the Council to declare a public health emergency.

“The videotape, available for review, showed numerous areas where groundwater was infiltrating the pipeline, several cracked/broken portions of the line, none of which were located immediately at the area of the larger sink hole. The portion of the pipeline about 50 feet upstream (east) of the sinkhole showed evidence of significant displacement.”

“Once the top of the pipe was exposed, water started to enter the excavation from under the ground. This infiltration of water reached the point where we deemed it unfeasible to continue excavation. We had exposed one pipe joint in more than three days of work. What was found at that one joint was a displacement on the top of about three inches, enough for a large man to put a goodly portion of his hand into what should be a water-tight connection.

At that point it was clear that there was a significant problem, with an apparent loss of watertight integrity and alignment on a major sewer trunk line. The condition is an imminent hazard to public health and safety and staff recommends that it must be mitigated prior to the onset of the upcoming rainy season. The higher wastewater flows that will occur in the wet season pose a reasonably predictable risk of failure of the pipeline, perhaps in a catastrophic manner.”

“the pipeline experienced a problem in the mid-1970’s and repairs were performed in the area now adjacent to the Desal Plant. High groundwater conditions prevented permanent repairs from being performed at that time.”

The first reference to the sinkhole problem was in an email sent by Andrea Lueker, who was at that time with Rec and Parks. The subject line was, “I’ve got that sinking feeling”. A sinkhole had opened up under a shed they had near the WWTP.

There were two sinkholes, as indicated by Boucher’s reference to ” the area of the larger sink hole”

The bill for fixing the problem was $290, 923.94. Given that the line failed in the seventies, about twenty years after it was installed, and again in the nineties, along with the fact that sinkholes can form in the area, would seem to indicate that we might have another growing problem out there right now.

Thank you Activist 1 for summing up the situation with MB – Cayucos sewer treatment needs. WE, I am from MB, will be slapped with the fines (being the majority owner and on our property, if we don’t get this treatment plant MOVED off of the old location as soon as possible! . Cayucos couldn’t care less what happens to the people of MB , that’s clear, but we have to protect ourselves and we have to proceed ahead, no matter what Cayucos does. We have different ‘needs’ than them, and we must meet our obligations. Cayucos, would seem to need to have their sewage treated? THEY have motels, they have schools and a citizen population, so unless they are prepared to build their own plant or ship it someplace besides MB then they are going to have to co operate with our elected officials, and citizens. I’m ashamed of the way the President has spoken , he has told untruths to make himself look better (he thinks), but our Mayor, Council and employees have treated him and the rest of their board (some new) with the utmost respect. We will get this project completed, no matter the backdraft from Cayucos, the representatives could have co operated, but they thought it was going to save them money, to be nasty, protest, delay (sound familiar LO?) but in the long run they will have to pay their fair share. That’s all that is being asked of them!

“email campaign by a citizen group”

What citizens group?

Who is in this citizens group?

Why do they get to work under the cover of darkness?

If they want whats best for the city we should all hear what that is and whom they are.

Get busy CCN!

These are the same culprits that drove the power plant out of town. There are over 10,000 people in this town and this is a group of 80. They are concerned about the private views from their homes. If you want an example of who they are watch the April 7th Planning Commission meeting. It’s the old, “I have mine and you can’t have yours” crowd, most of whom who have lived in the town for 10 years or less. A building moratorium is just another way to eliminate affordable housing in Morro Bay. These people are such hypocrites.

What drove the power plant out of town was the State mandate against the once-through cooling process – and that’s a well-documented fact.

As for the “group of 80”, that number of visible residents is likely to represent the views of a much larger number. The people who walked the neighborhoods campaigning for this cause found almost universal support.

What Morro Bay needs a moratorium on is politicians like Irons.

I don’t know … seems like good statesmanship to “air” the issue, so the council and community can reject it.

To do otherwise would open the council up to claims that it is ignoring its constituents.

I don’t know how the Moratorium discussion leads into a funding the General Plan Update discussion.

Remember, Katie is a roommate of the Irons’… Mrs Irons is HumanResourceDirector for Happy Town… I think they call it embed. But, katieshouldonly rent a room from the Iron’s, since she works fromherhomein Malbau, now that is Happy Town!

Typical, as long as they and their have what they need to hell with everyone else.

SLOBIRD, you are right on Que! I suppose embedded is the politically correct term. Would hate to use the word incestuous.

I wonder how many people on the Neighborhood Compatibility Coalition are renters?

And they need to do this dance when their city has no water for growth? Maybe the can do like the farmers, remove one house to build another?

In Morro Bay we don’t have a reliable water supply for our current residents and visitors, why would we build more houses for more residents, putting more demand on a finite and unreliable commodity, and make a bad situation even worse? The City has already come close, a couple of times, to completely running out of water.

We can’t rely on State water, as history has shown. We cannot use our Ashurst municipal wells at all. In order to use the Morro Basin municipal wells, we have to run the water through the BWRO trains at the desal plant. That is very expensive AND it wastes a lot of water. Most of the water that goes in comes out pretty clean, but a significant amount of water is lost, ending up in the brine which is the waste product from the BWRO processing.

With our dilapidated sewer lines leaking, contaminating ground water and the ocean, why would we build more houses and put more stress on a crumbling system, making the contamination even worse? Recent testing of Morro Basin well water left no doubt that the lines are still leaking. Sucralose, considered the most reliable indicator of the presence of constituents of sewage, was found in every tested well subject to the influence of our sewer lines.

Building more houses, and thus adding to the number of residents, will make both of these problems even worse than they are by further stressing systems that are badly broken. We need to fix our water and sewer system problems before we add more users to those systems. Otherwise, we are likely to face even worse problems than we have already – like water rationing.

Gov needs the growth to meet their bottom line. They will regulate less for all so that they can get paid, it’s a lofty dance but in the final analysis it’s just that simple.

Linda, aren’t you happy you escaped that big ugly city and got here in time?

If the sewer lines are in such sorry shape, with the water front propbly the worst and I’m sure a lot of them are,then we would be better off getting new lines in place,and updating the sewer plant right where its at,with the concrete plant all but gone there is more room there for the plant expansion, and we would save millions.

They are in awful shape all over town. The one along Atascadero Road is quite prone to damage due to the unstable soil. When the soil under the pipes sinks, they are not supported and then you get cracks and broken joints.

Having that happen to those big lines that run down Atascadero Road is obviously a disaster in the making. A public health emergency was declared in 1998 when there was a major pipe failure. The soil in that area is just not stable enough to safely run the big trunk lines through, as evidenced by what happened in 1998 when sinkholes opened up in the area.

“… Having that happen to those big lines that run down Atascadero Road is obviously a disaster in the making….”

Which makes it an excellent idea to push 100% of the effluent out Atascadero Rd ???

Yes, because it gets the line out of the area subject to sinkholes. A big problem is that the line is below the water table. Most of them are not, but that one is.

What’s so fascinating here is that the Mayor actually has control over the council agenda in Morro Bay. That’s the way democracy should work. If the mayor wants something on the agenda, even if only to shoot it out of the air, it gets there.

But in HappyTown it doesn’t work that way. The Mayor has no control over the agenda. Katie Lichtig, the unelected overpaid matron of City Hall, controls the agenda. What SHE wants is what gets on the agenda. If the Mayor doesn’t want it, tough luck.

So, the question is: Why is Morro Bay so much more progressively democratic than HappyTown? Why did HappyTown’s Mayor give up the ability to control the agenda?

I guess the Chamber likes it better this way.