In a letter to the editor titled, “Sewer expense is unavoidable,” Los Osos resident Stephen R. Marsden wrote:
Oh, boo-hoo, Ms. Schicker (“Sewer project would dispossess many Los Osos home owners,” Oct. 22). So, the Cassandra of the Cesspool feels unappreciated and persecuted. As one of the more recent neinsagers-in-chief and prophets of doom for Los Osos, she should not be surprised. It is precisely because of people like her that the constant harangue about the “economic cleansing” of Los Osos by the coming sewer may hold some grain of truth. The endless stonewalling and fantasy “alternatives” to the inevitable wastewater project have caused the price to rise (did she really think that litigating the proposals to death would make the end result cheaper????) and fragmented the community, not to mention bankrupted the CSD.
Fantasy alternatives, Mr. Harsden? The two most prominently talked about alternatives include STEP/STEG and vacuum collection. The pros and cons of each system can be debated endlessly, but the fact of the matter is that the County reviewed STEP/STEG, concluded that it was indeed viable technology but it didn’t fit the Los Osos project criteria. Vacuum systems were dismissed in the rough screening report without clearly disclosing any reasons. In reality, there is life beyond a gravity collection system, but that’s not what Mrs. Schicker was even arguing.
Once again, the subject matter transforms from concerns about MWH being placed on the design-build RFQ to Schicker’s alleged delusions of grandeur, stonewalling the process and pursuing “fantasy alternatives” that drive up the costs. Mr. Marsden is hasty to take a bite out of the red herring.
To follow up his bickering, Marsden writes:
You can’t blame people for wanting to live somewhere “cheap,” but responsible adults should not expect to crap into a hole in the sand at the edge of a bay for as many years as Los Osos has been up and running and suffer no consequences. Like other people who pay for the services that divert human wastes away from bodies of water, estuaries, and so forth, Los Osans will have to pay the piper. If that means some of the run-down rentals that are sadly neglected by too many absentee landlords will be up for sale I, for one, will not be sad. I can only hope that at the head of any hypothetical “exodus” will be all the various infamous principals in this senseless saga, continuing to lead astray all of the people they have misled for so long. Good riddance.”
Being as responsible as they could be, with the pitifully little and deceptive information realtors disclosed, many relatively new residents of the Los Osos Prohibition Zone were unaware of the circumstances surrounding the purchase of their new home. Without offering any scientific proof that all individual septic tanks are polluting the groundwater, Marsden makes the claim that Los Osos residents are “crapping into a hole in the sand at the edge of a bay for many years.” Surprisingly, and ironically, that not-so-scientific assessment comes from a retired Honors/A.P. Chemistry teacher.
Former Cal Poly professor and TAC member, David Dubbink, had this to say about Schicker’s comments:
Lisa Shicker’s opinion piece (“Sewer project would dispossess many Los Osos home owners,” Oct. 22) adds to her teetering stack of allegations about how everyone else (but she) is to blame for the Los Osos sewer mess. She says sewer charges will force 40 percent of the residents and businesses to leave town. All of the rental housing (30 percent of the stock) will stand vacant. No evidence is presented to support these startling claims.
There is no evidence to support his own claims.
The controversial March 27, 2009 community survey led by Opinion Studies used the Property Assessment List of Los Osos residents to mail out the surveys. Using the data from the Property Assessment List, Opinion Studies distributed questionnaire packets to 5,756 property owners of the Prohibition Zones inside and outside the 93402 zip code as well as 1,801 renters in the same area (pg. 4). The renters make up approximately 31% of the total Prohibition Zone population, leaving the other 69% (property owners) to face the $250/month and rising costs. When asked if they would apply for financial assistance, 42% of the assessed property owners said that they would probably or definitely apply (pg. 13). Juxtapose the 42% with Schicker’s 40% claim, it’s more accurate to say that 42% of homeowners would be burdened by the monthly costs. In addition, the 20% who would definitely apply for financial assistance are more likely to be “forced” out of their homes since they feel a stronger need for it. Given these statistics, only 33% of the community at large responded to the survey without knowing for sure how much the total cost for the project would be.
It’s safe to say that many people will be displaced, not just renters. In fact, Schicker may have underestimated her claim of 40%.
Overall, critic responses to Schicker’s viewpoint was weak at best, pitiful at worst. What do you think about Schicker’s commentary? Post your comments here.