Ed has a viewpoint published in the Friday edition of The Tribune. You can also find the article on their web site by clicking here.
In the October 2007 vote on Proposition 218, Los Osos voted the county a blank check to build a sewer.
Now, at this time of historic economic decline, with state and local governments strapped for cash and cutting back, it would be fiscally irresponsible of the Board of Supervisors to fill in that check with the highest possible amount.
In that controversial Proposition 218 vote, the homeowners of Los Osos were given a clear choice — whether to be fined out of their homes by the state Regional Water Board (for county-permitted septic tanks) or taxed out of their homes by the revenue-hungry county bureaucracy.
This is basically the “choice” between being shot or hung. Pick either one, the results are both the same: being taxed out of your home is “eminent domain by taxation.”
“Eminent domain by taxation” was the subject of a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington that acknowledged that the average citizen couldn’t afford the cost of attorneys to fight to keep their homes. As a result, when government agencies break the law and commit fraud and felonies, they get away with it because people can’t afford an attorney to fight the government and force them to follow the law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee went so far as to propose a “kitty” to help homeowners with court costs should this be the case.
In Los Osos’ case, the linchpin of “eminent domain by taxation” is building a public works project that few can afford and that forces thousands to leave by taxing them out of their homes.
The sewer tax is a terribly unfair tax, and homeowners don’t need a big tax bill for a big sewer when a more cost-effective project can do the same job. If you run government like a business, it doesn’t make sense to see it any other way, unless the county insists on working only with builders Montgomery Watson Harza.
Los Osos homeowners have no idea that, in some cases, their monthly sewer bill could hit $400 a month or more. When radio host Dave Congalton asked Board of Supervisors Chairman Bruce Gibson and county Public Works Director Paavo Ogren on the air during the campaign on Proposition 218: “Is $25,000 the total amount each homeowner would pay for the county sewer in the ‘Prohibition Zone’?” — they replied “yes.” Not true!
First, homeowners may need a loan just for the hookup itself, which could run up to $10,000. That could add another $150 to $250 to the bill (depending on the length of the loan) right off the bat, even before they start paying off the $25,000 assessment. And there are so many extra costs not being talked about that do not appear in any county brochure — operations and maintenance, mandatory retrofitting, probable imported water, repairs, and fines and more fines. Few people can get loans now. What will they do?
There really is no more powerful, no more painful example in America today of “eminent domain by taxation,” of government turning against the people, than what’s going on in Los Osos right now.
Ed Ochs is editor and publisher of The Rock at www.rockofthecoast.com.