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What the county’s talking about this week 

Los Osos recall gaining steam

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the Los Osos Community Services District (CSD) is on the verge of another recall. So that sewer project they so painstakingly designed and approved may be headed straight down the drain.

Brainchild of CSD board members Stan Gustafson, Gordon Hensley, and Richard LeGros, the eternally controversial wastewater treatment facility was expected to break ground smack dab in the middle of the quaint coastal community sometime this year. But if the recall initiative succeeds, those three members will be removed, and they’ll most likely throw the baby out with the bath water.

The voters of Los Osos expressed their dissatisfaction with the status quo clearly enough in last November’s election, when Tri-W sewer opponents Lisa Schicker and Julie Tacker celebrated a decisive victory. The day they were sworn into office, the sewage hit the fan, and the recall effort was launched.

With two months remaining, the recall has already collected well over half of the 2,000
signatures needed to put the vote on the ballot. Gail McPherson of the Los Osos Technical Task Force feels confident that the recall will meet with voter approval, but was reluctant to express too much optimism for fear of inciting the opposition. The other side is well financed, she conceded, and they are already buying full-page ads in local papers.

“But it isn’t just about the sewer. It’s about bad government,� McPherson said. “This board seems to have no concept of fiscal responsibility.� President Gustafson and Vice President Hensley, for example, are currently in Washington to visit Congresswoman Lois Capps, who has an office right here in San Luis Obispo.

If all runs smoothly, as things seldom do in
the politically and septically congested town of Los Osos, the recall could be on the ballot by May or June, and a new board could be in place by summer. A shadow government is already conducting workshops and negotiating toward an alternative sewer plan for if and when it is elected to the CSD.

—J.H.

Not to be confused with Mardi Gras

The San Luis Obispo Downtown Association announced this week that it will hold “Fiesta de SLO� this summer. The new party will take place June 4 and will feature live music, a salsa competition, and other activities at Mission Plaza. Fiesta de SLO is a celebration of the town’s Hispanic heritage.

—J.P.

Body found in Cambria

A woman taking an early morning walk Feb. 9 on Moonstone Beach in Cambria came across the body of an adult male, which had apparently washed ashore. The man was found naked with no identification. The SLO County Sheriff’s Office is obtaining fingerprints and crosschecking missing-person reports in order to confirm the identity.

—J.P.

Missing man found

Search and rescue personnel found the 74-year-old man who had become disoriented while picking mushrooms near Santa Margarita. William Hattig had been visiting friends who live in a remote area outside Santa Margarita when he disappeared. Friends and family immediately contacted the sheriff’s department.

The SLO County Sheriff’s Department, Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Bureau of Land Management, and helicopters from the U.S. Air Force and California Highway Patrol assisted in the rescue. Hattig was found about a mile from the cabin where he was staying. He was flown to a local hospital where he was treated for hypothermia, cuts, and abrasions.

—J.P.

 

SLO set to reimburse Costco $2.1 million

At next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, San Luis Obispo city planners will ask the mayor to authorize $2,183,218 in eventual payments to Costco.

As part of the Costco’s agreement with the city, it gets to build a 140,000-square-foot warehouse store and service station off Los Osos Valley Road. In exchange, the company must front the $3 million it will take to realign Calle Joaquin — including all design, permitting, and environment mitigation costs.

But the city will only charge Costco for what
it sees as its “fair share� of the improvements,
or $910,000. The logic is that they are paying
for something that benefits more than just the company.

“You can live on Broad Street and benefit from the improvements. So the city pays a proportionate share,� said Shelly Stanwyck, San Luis Obispo’s economic development manager.

While Costco will have to make the adjustments to Calle Joaquin before they build, a Nov. 16, 2004 decision by the city allows the company to open before they complete mitigation relating to the possible presence of vernal pool fairy shrimp on the property.

—A.H.

Campfire snuffed out?

Campfire USA could lose its space in Arroyo Grande, but it will have at least another year in its current location. The American Legion has made a formal request to take over the space that Campfire uses behind the American Legion Post 136 in Arroyo Grande.

Campfire USA, a nonprofit group that provides programs for children, rents the space from the county and has been using the space in partnership with the American Legion since the 1950s.

About 850 children attend Campfire programs at the Arroyo Grande facility, and it has four employees.

The group recently received a grant from Miner’s Ace Hardware to renovate the facility. The grant allowed the group to install blinds and ceiling fans, as well re-carpet and repaint the facility.

“This is where we want to stay,� said Joey Hughes, executive director for Campfire. “We wouldn’t have done all those things we did if we didn’t want to be here.�

Hughes said the group leases the small space from the county for free. “There’s no way we can pay market value.�

The American Legion filed for the eviction of Campfire USA in late January, and there was not enough time for the board of supervisors to offer a 10-day comment period and a 30-day notice of eviction to Campfire USA before its lease was to run out on Feb. 28. Therefore, Campfire’s lease was automatically renewed for another year, giving the county supervisors that time to find a compromise.

“What we are looking at is how to make a win-win situation,� said Katcho Achadjian, District 4 county supervisor. Although the American Legion owns the land, it has to prove to the board of supervisors that the space that Campfire USA is using is a necessity to the American Legion. Achadjian did say that the American Legion, under law, has priority.

—J.P.

Amtrak service should resume on 28th

The Pacific Surfliner resumed service this week between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, but Amtrak says that it won’t be able to travel to San Luis Obispo until Feb. 28.

Service north of Los Angeles was suspended in mid January after mudslides, boulders, and sinkholes damaged sections of the Union Pacific Railroad-owned tracks.

Currently, Amtrak is providing bus transportation to passengers traveling between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Passengers can call 1-800-USA-RAIL for updates.

— A.H.

This week’s News was compiled and reported on by staff writers John Peabody, Abraham Hyatt, and Jeff Hornaday.

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