Less water for AG residents, more for developers
October 16, 2016
By KAREN VELIE
The Arroyo Grande City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to enact further water restrictions on existing residents while delaying a building moratorium. The delay will allow a developer to avoid the moratorium and move ahead with the construction of more than 80 new homes.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, city staff estimated the city’s water supply could run out in 18 months if further water conservation measures were not implemented. Arroyo Grande residents have already reduced their water usage by 37 percent.
Council members agreed to further restrict resident’s water usage. Those restrictions include reducing outdoor watering from four to one day a week, enacting a rule against vehicle washing and increasing mandatory water reductions by another 10 percent.
However, city staff said that any water the city saves because of the reductions would likely be used by developer Andy Mangano’s proposed Cherry Avenue and Courtland and Grand developments unless the moratorium went into effect sooner. Combined, both developments total nearly 90 homes that could be delayed if a moratorium was enacted immediately.
During public comment, several residents said they should not be asked to cut back in order to support new development.
“Your residents have a huge problem,” Deborah Love said. “We are being asked to conserve so that new hotels and housing developments can be built.”
Mayor Jim Hill and Councilman Brown argued that the moratorium should go into effect immediately.
“Why are we waiting to hit the trigger when we are already in a dire situation?” Brown said. “Why wait for the moratorium?”
Council members Kristen Barneich, Barbara Harmon and Jim Guthrie voiced their concerns for developers who would have to delay their projects if the moratorium went into effect immediately.
In an attempt to increase water conservation requirements, Harmon wanted to take $5,500 from schools and give it to restaurant owners to retrofit dishwashers. Bob McFall, interim city manager, said those funds had already been spent.
Nearing midnight, Barneich, Guthrie and Harmon voted to delay the moratorium until there is 10,000 acre feet or less of water left in Lopez Lake, which is expected to occur in January. Both Hill and Brown dissented because they wanted the building moratorium to go into effect the day after their vote.