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Morro Bay dismisses alleged Brown Act violation 

With a two-page letter—and as advised by legal council—the city of Morro Bay waved away accusations of a Brown Act violation regarding its water reclamation facility.

Local group Citizens for Affordable Living alleged that the City Council violated the Brown Act, which governs public meeting laws, by making a decision about the much-debated wastewater treatment facility without posting public notice in the meeting agenda.

Attorney Cynthia Hawley, who represents the group, said City Council members are able to direct staff to provide more information without putting it on the agenda—but they did more than that.

"In this case, part of the actions that they took involved directions to staff to provide more information, but they also provided direction to staff that involved selection of the wastewater treatment facility," she said.

At the April 25 meeting, City Council received a presentation summarizing updates on the preliminary findings from the draft sewer and water rate study for a new water reclamation facility, which is on its third proposed location. The city is still working on a draft proposal for the facility, which is estimated to cost $168 million. That day, the council voted to assemble a team to return with two alternatives for revised cost estimates and user rates on the first phase (and first project alternative) of the facility—which is for wastewater treatment only.

Hawley said that in order for a team to review the cost and rate proposals, the council needed to make a decision on one of the project alternatives.

Rob Livick, the city's public works director, said his understanding is that the council was simply looking for more information and hasn't made a decision yet.

"Council directed staff to assemble a panel to review alternatives to give some options for it to consider," he said.

In response to the allegations, the city wrote a letter stating that no violations occurred. City Council received and filed the letter during the June 13 council meeting.

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