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Shower power 

You know what happens when the SLO County Board of Supervisors undoes the mistakes of its previous iteration? The taxpayers rake it in!

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Just kidding. We're not raking in anything. But we're spending less!

The Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA)—a regional collaborative effort to manage the vagaries of and state regulatory policies over solid waste—just reduced its solid waste management fee from 5.4 percent to 3 percent. Boring, but not too shabby!

This happened after the county rejoined the IWMA despite its best efforts to try to go at the solid waste game alone. Turns out, that game ain't easy. Turns out, the IWMA does a pretty darn good job of complying with state mandates in a fiscally responsible way, more responsible than even it could have predicted.

With almost $2 million in county money wasted on an independent waste agency that was total trash and the threat of an 8 percent fee (that was higher than the IWMA's) and looming annual spending worth $700,000, the fiscally responsible trio of liberal supervisors made a prudent decision to throw the opinion of the fiscally irresponsible conservatives into the organic composting bin late last year.

And now we can recycle the extra fees we don't have to pay back into our monthly household budgets!

Will Los Osos be able to recycle enough wastewater to make up for future development's strain on its water supply? Not if people stop taking short showers and flushing their toilets with gray water.

One resident told the California Coastal Commission that she was done doing her part, since the regulatory body seemed to think Los Osos could potentially lift the building moratorium that's been in place for decades: "I did take a three-minute shower today," Alexandria Fairfield told commissioners on June 13. "Tomorrow, I'll skip it."

Skip what? The shower? Gross!

She's not convinced the entity that's famous for being a stickler about these kinds of things is up to snuff with its assessment of the situation. The commission thinks that the Los Osos Valley Groundwater Basin, which was overdrafted (more water coming out than going in) for years, is no longer in danger due to conservation efforts.

Kevin Kahn, the commission's Central Coast district manager, said the data shows Los Osos now uses less water than "the basin's calculated sustainable or safe yield." Meaning? There's room to grow.

Maybe not, if Fairfield and company start taking longer showers. I guess they're not so much about conserving water as they are about keeping development out of their neighborhoods. It's funny that a group of folks who once depended on the commission to help them stay NIMBY-rrific is now questioning the commission because it changed its mind.

Los Osos Sustainability Group Chair Patrick McGibney is convinced the commission's science is fake news. The numbers it's using, he insists, are estimated.

"We don't have enough water," he said. "Are we all conserving water to save our basin or are we doing it to have more development?"

Both, duh! Where else are we going to put people? Plus, if the Coastal Commission staff says it's so, I'm going to believe them!

You know how many building moratoriums are in place because of them? Cambria does.

But there's still a ways to go before Los Osos rips the moratorium Band-Aid off. The commission made some changes to the Los Osos Community Plan submitted by the county, which now need to go back to the county Board of Supervisors for approval before going back to the commission. Whew! Hang on for a slow ride.

It's not like a city decision, where Atascadero can just unilaterally decide it doesn't want to make proclamations anymore because it "detracts" from city business. Interesting move from a conservative city. Even more interesting to make it really known during Pride Month and on the eve of Juneteenth.

And by interesting, I mean fishy, fishy, fishy—if you're having a hard time reading between the lines.

The Atascadero City Council made a decision not to support Pride Month without even having to discuss it in front of the public! It's like magic. This, despite voting in favor of a proclamation supporting Pride Month last June, something Thom Waldman called a "huge step backwards."

Waldman co-produced the first major Atascadero Pride event, which took place five days after the non-decision decision made during the June 11 City Council meeting.

"Think about the message you are sending to our community," he said.

That message is avoidance. Are you taking notes, kids? As Gala Pride and Diversity Center's Serrin Ruggles said: "Unfortunately, both the words and actions of Atascadero City Council have made it clear that they are not interested in supporting the LGBTQ-plus population up there."

Crystal clear. Unlike the tax revenue fight going on between the Nipomo Community Services District and the county over the potential future property taxes of the most controversial development in recent history: the Dana Reserve. Who knew that project's controversy could get any deeper?

The development wants to be annexed into the CSD for water and wastewater services—something the county doesn't provide there. The county thinks it would lose property tax revenue in the deal. The CSD thinks the county would actually make more tax revenue and wants the extra dollars.

Could negotiations stall the project? Environmentalists across the county are crossing their fingers. Δ

The Shredder's got an eye on everything. Send tips to [email protected].

Readers Poll

Do you think the SLO County Board of Supervisors should have gone against their policy that states funding for independent special districts should not result in a net fiscal loss to the county?

  • A. Yes, the housing and job opportunity the Dana Reserve is bringing is important
  • B. No, it's giving special privileges to the Nipomo Community Services District
  • C. I trust them, they know what's best for the county
  • D. What's going on?

View Results


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