California Coastal Commission approves Morro Bay sewer project

July 13, 2019

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously on Thursday evening to approve a proposed $124 million new Morro Bay sewer project. [Cal Coast Times]

After years of planning, city officials plan to build a 15 acre wastewater treatment and water reclamation plant on a 396 acre property currently outside the city limits. The city council plans to purchase the property and then annex it into the city.

For months, local activists have voiced concerns that a San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors vote to consolidate proposals and skip public input at the county level could deter public participation in the planning process.

By 9 p.m. on Thursday, when the Coastal Commission finally called the item, most members of the public had already gone home. Fifty public speakers, evenly split between supporters and opponents of the project, then voiced their opinions.

However, an exhausted Coastal Commission board did not acknowledge public concerns or deliberate on the project, instead quickly voting 10-0 to approve the proposal.

“The commission just rubber stamped it,” activist Julie Tacker said. “There was no shaping or changing of the project.”


I wonder if people realize that the coastal commission has no power? They can fine private individuals for violating coastal construction regulations and right of way issues. Those fines are usually reversed as a violation of constitutional rights. They have lost both US Supreme Court cases that they were sued over. They had most the power the state had given them in the early 80s because it violated the 5th, 7th and 1st amendment. I can’t remember the case. You can Google it. After that the state pretty much gutted what real power they had thought they would have.

When it comes to municipalities or state issues they just recommend their decisions. It’s why every time they have voted to recommend closure of the off road vehicle area in the dunes it’s just a recommendation to the state parks. And the state parks need all the money they can get to keep others open. The dune is one of only three or 4 state parks that brings in money that is used to fund other parks that no one cares about.

They are sort of a grand jury of the coast. That’s about the extent of their power. I don’t know why people care so much. They can always sue them and have a good chance of winning.

People just need to use the power of a web search and not just make assumptions over the coastal commission.


Desdecardo, you are probably referring to the Nolan case from So. California. Your point is well taken but I think you underestimate their regulatory authority and ultimate standing in court. Rest assured, if the City were to attempt to build on the existing sewer site they would be shutdown in court, quickly. A protracted court battle would cost millions in legal fees, and delay, making a mess of things…for years.

I agree, they have too much power, real or perceived, and should have their “wings clipped “ legislatively. However, that is highly unlikely with the Dems running this state in the unreasonable manner they have chosen.

Just my two cents as a long time(30 plus year) professional planner in California.


This coming right after the City raising the combined water and sewer rate to, as stated, roughly $200.00 per month, and we’ve not seen the last of it!!!

After years of abuse by their neighbor and plant partner, Cayucos bailed out of this ridiculously expensive project, good for them and the lucky citizens of Cayucos:)

Starting at the same time, Cayucos is constructing their new 25 million dollar plant, Morro Bay is just getting their approvals in order!!!

I asked a competent individual from the Cayucos Plant construction team, how much more would it have cost for Morro Bay to be added to the plant that Cayucos is building, he stated around 50 million, I asked why didn’t Morro Bay do that instead of what they’re doing, he stated,. they never asked:(

For those that drank the Kool Aid, that the Plant needed to be moved, at what will become a $250.00 per month bill just for the sewer portion, good for you!!!

For those that just got run over or run out of Morro Bay by this Sewer debacle, not so much:(

mb business owner

While the coastal commissioners don’t really care, they should be ashamed of the way they acted in terms of providing adequate public comment for this 157M project which will now affect the community of Los Osos. Pumping sewage 3 miles uphill and leaving a lift station at the beach makes absolutely no sense and can hardly be called “managed retreat”-what a joke! But since they’re in bed with Morro Bay Officials and county officials it was a slam dunk. Not sure why they even had a hearing since it was already decided prior to the hearing.


I would like to congratulate the people of Morro Bay for not turning this into another Los Osos type debacle…..The Rock must make people smart….it must be the rock…..


I hear Ms. Tacker’s frustration with the CCC commissioners giving inadequate time, and late-hour ram-through passage. While their timing is distasteful, perhaps it’s best that the Commission keep itself out of monkeying with a plant being planned miles away from the coast. Generally speaking, Coastal Commission interference simply cannot bring anything good (meaning sensible, or economical, or conventional) to most any engineering project.

The REALLY sad thing here is the colossal waste of tens of millions with this idiocy (costly remote NEW plant) when revamping the old plant has been quoted do-able at eight figures cheaper. It is RIDICULOUS to move it for a fantasy “flood or tsunami” or “dune restoration” at such a brutal public cost.

This will soon price some fixed-income folks out of Morro Bay just as it did in Los Osos, from which disaster Morro Bay officials appear to have LEARNED NOTHING.


My God, how long did this take? Five years give or take of haggling? Wait till they unearth Native American bones and artifacts. So the old plant will be decommissioned, demo’ed and a new bigger and better Hotel will be built in its place regardless of the concerns a tidal surge would have wiped the old plant out. And the Million dollar homes at the Clusters development?. That’s immune to tidal surges apparently.