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New Times / News

The following article was posted on July 2nd, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 49

On the table: $48 million for roads in Grover Beach?

BY CLIFF MATHIESON

New streets may be down the road for Grover Beach residents if voters approve a new bond measure this November.

At a special meeting on June 25, the Grover Beach City Council gave the thumbs up to a $48 million measure that aims to repair the city’s failing roads. The vote was 4-1, with Councilman Bill Nicolls opposed.

The bond will reappear on the council’s agenda at its July 7 meeting, where the leaders will have one last chance to alter the measure before officially deciding whether or not to place it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The council decided that something had to be done about the city’s roads after hearing from upset citizens for years. Joseph Ririe—the pavement management consultant hired to assess the city’s roads—confirmed their subpar condition.

Using a standardized scale called pavement condition index (PCI), which ranges from zero (basically un-drivable) to 100 (a flawless road), Ririe and his team found that Grover’s average PCI is 42.

Forty-two is categorized as “Condition D” (poor) but is only two PCI points away from “Condition F” (very poor), which is the worst possible category. As a point of comparison, the average California road has a PCI of 66, and the city of San Luis Obispo has an average PCI of 72. Ririe found that if Grover continues its street maintenance funding at current levels, the roads will steadily drop to a 17 PCI after 10 years.

Even if the $48 million bond does pass, it’s unlikely that the city’s roads will be brought up to California’s average. Ririe found that it would cost $65 million (far more than the proposed $48 million) over 10 years to bring Grover’s roads up to a 65 PCI.

The council also hired a public research firm called FM3 to see how viable the proposed bond would be with voters and how much money the bond should call for. FM3 found that 89 percent of polled citizens thought there’s “great need” or “some need” for additional funds to improve the quality of Grover’s streets.

“I’ve been doing this for more than a decade. I don’t think I’ve ever seen ‘great or some need’ as high as this,” said Richard Bernard, FM3’s representative. “So [the voters] get it; they know it’s a problem, and that is good news.”

The firm ultimately found that 75 percent of polled citizens would support the $48 million general obligation bond measure.

The only thing the polled voters didn’t like about the proposed bond was the tax needed to fund it. At the $48 million level, property owners would pay up to $181 per $100,000 of their property’s assessed value, though the tax will probably start at $28 per $100,000, according to Grover Beach City Manager Bob Perrault.

Nicolls said he voted “nay” because he thought $48 million was too high for the bond. He wanted the council to go ahead with a more conservative $38 million measure.

“I certainly don’t think any of these numbers are a slam dunk,” Bernard told the council. “It’s a tough one, but that’s why they voted you in.”