New Times San Luis Obispo

Los Osos residents await financial help for sewer connections

Peter Johnson Dec 7, 2017 4:00 AM

As many as 80 Los Osos property owners who have been waiting months for financial assistance to connect their homes to the Los Osos sewer will have to resubmit information about their incomes and be recertified, as too much time elapsed since their previous certification, according to county Public Works officials.

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MONEY HELD UP Los Osos property owners enrolled in financial assistance programs to help with sewer lateral connections continue to wait for grant funds to become available.

Since last year, the county has advertised a financial assistance program to Los Osos households making at or below 80 percent of median income ($65,350 per year for a household of four in 2017), funded by federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant funds.

But hiccups between the county and HUD delayed the program long enough that HUD recently told SLO County that the Los Osos participants' income certifications were now invalid.

"Unfortunately this not unusual when you get involved with the federal government," Deputy Public Works Director Mark Hutchinson said, adding that county staff will be contacting the program applicants to restart the process.

SLO County has roughly $500,000 in grants to allocate to the sewer lateral assistance program. Los Osos residents waiting on those funds constitute about one-third of the remaining properties that haven't connected to the wastewater treatment plant completed in 2015.

Of the 220 properties still using septic systems, 72 owners haven't communicated their reasons for not connecting to the county. That list of 72 properties was recently passed on to the Los Osos Community Services District (CSD), which reportedly has $169,000 in Community Foundation funds available to help residents with hookups.

According to a CSD staff report for a Dec. 7 board of directors meeting that will establish a bank account for those funds, the district sent letters to the 72 property owners informing them of the available funds. The CSD received only eight applications in return before a Nov. 21 deadline.

Homeowners enrolled in the financial assistance programs awaiting held-up money needn't worry about the county enforcing the sewer mandate against them, Hutchinson said.

"The Board of Supervisors has consistently paused any sort of connection enforcement against those folks," he said. Δ