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Local reps write to state for water and housing fixes

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Paso Robles has high hopes for two projects that could bring much-needed solutions to some of the city’s most pressing issues.

But both projects, one a facility to produce recycled water for the community and the other to turn a former juvenile correctional facility into a transitional housing complex, require action from the state to move forward.

Local representatives of North County recently penned a pair of letters to state offices in an attempt to bring their attention to the roadblocks.

State Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and Sen. Bill Monning teamed up on a letter to the Water Board’s Division of Financial Assistance on Dec. 20 on behalf of Paso’s recycled water project. The city has been awaiting approval for a low-interest loan from the State Revolving Fund and grant funding since September 2015.

The letter asks for the department to make the city’s application a higher priority given the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin’s woes.

“The agriculture community has expressed an interest in using the recycled water as soon as it becomes available,” the letter states. “The project will help solve the problem of declining groundwater elevations by producing and developing a major new supply of irrigation water.”

The city of Paso Robles’ plans to convert a 160-acre defunct juvenile correctional facility on Airport Boulevard into a multi-purpose complex to address homeless and low-income housing needs also faces barriers from the state.

The property is state-owned and hasn’t been active in more than eight years. Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, Councilmember Steve Gregory, SLO County Supervisor Frank Mecham, Paso Housing Authority Director David Cooke, and Paso Robles Joint Unified School District trustee Field Gibson are all authors on a Dec. 13 letter to Sid Voorakkara, a specialist in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

“The land and over 35 major structures have sat idle, in warm shutdown, costing the state significant ongoing maintenance costs,” the letter penned by the local leaders reads. “We sincerely request your leadership … and would like to meet with you, or whomever you suggest, to present our proposal and develop appropriate next steps.”

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