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Gaining access 

Denying Los Osans easy access to public records is like denying addicts their scores.

Case in point: Provide only one paper copy of a SLO County response to the California Coastal Commission over the Los Osos sewer project and there’s going to be trouble.

“Why this approach?” resident Julie Tacker asked, lambasting SLO County supervisors on April 6. “Why this continued dig your heels in, snub your nose at the public? I’m sick of it.”

County officials had compiled a dense packet of documents in response to a Coastal Commission request—part of numerous appeals to the white-hot sewer project now in the hands of coastal commissioners. But only one copy is available at the Public Works Department, which can’t be removed from the building, and copying costs can hit $100.

The cry for better access to the roughly 1,000-page document steadily grew over the past few weeks. Though critics were initially met with indifference, county officials seem to be getting the message. Supervisor Bruce Gibson and Public Works Director Paavo Ogren said they’re working to put the document in electronic form, but haven’t yet begun to and didn’t say when it would be available. Ogren said the document wasn’t originally posted online partly because of cost

“If I get some heat for setting priorities such as I have, and others don’t understand the value of our efforts to seek out federal stimulus funds, well I would rather pursue what is good for the community of Los Osos and take the heat,” Ogren said in an e-mail to local media. “I will rest better at night.”

Workers at the County Clerk-Recorder's Office said placing all the material online wouldn’t take more than a few hours, but as of press time hadn’t received the document.

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