Feb 10, 2011 1:50 AM by Danielle Lerner
After nearly four hours of debate and public comment the Oceano Community Services District has decided not to sell a portion of Oceano's water to a developer in Pismo Beach. The board shot down the item with a 3-2 vote. Board Members Guerrero, Lucey and Board President Jim Hill voted against the measure.
The district wanted to permanently sell 100 acre-feet of Oceano's state water allocation to the developer of the Los Robles Del Mar residential project just outside Pismo Beach. The deal would have generated about $2 million for the district and board members argued they needed that money for infrastructure repairs. However the proposal sparked outrage among residents who felt the sale would jeopardize Oceano's future. They also said residents should have the final say in the decision.
One by one, nearly two dozen people spoke out against the proposed sale of Oceano's water to Pismo Beach.
"I think it should go up for a vote, I'm sick and tired of this," said one resident.
"I do not feel any one of you, or combined, have enough knowledge to make a decision on this kind of an issue," said Brenda Auer.
"We want you to listen to the people, you were elected to listen and do what the people are asking," said Resident Pam Deal.
Even board member Mary Lucey begged her fellow board members to delay the decision, saying it needed more input from outside agencies. The proposed sale would permanently divert 100 acre-feet of Oceano's state allocated water to a residential development in Pismo Beach. While residents worry that could result in a water shortage down the road, Board President Jim Hill said there is more than enough state allocated water to go around, and the district needs the money.
"We'll never use it," said Hill. "You know, it seems to me that the responsible thing to do is get the money for it now, relieve the public here for having to pay for it, and then it works out hopefully in everyone's interest."
A big decision with long-lasting consequences, as the controversy surrounding Oceano's water rights turns a corner.
"Anybody that drinks water in Oceano, whether they're renters or homeowners, it seems like they should be able to have some sort of say," said one resident during public comment.
"I was elected here to do the best job that I can for the people of Oceano and that's what I'm trying to do," said Hill.
Even though the board voted down selling water to this particular development it is still in talks with the City of Arroyo Grande and another development off of Price Canyon Road. Residents recently filed a petition with the County Clerk Recorder's office. It had nearly 580 signatures saying a public election should be held prior to any permanent sale of Oceano's water. If the board adopts that petition at its next meeting on February 23, any future decisions about selling water would be in the hands of the people.
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