Los Osos homeowners not renters will soon be called upon to decide whether to assess their properties to pay for a sewer, with an official yes-or-no ballot due to be sent out in early September.
"This is a tremendously significant decision for Los Osos, a huge step in the process of solving the problem," said county Supervisor Bruce Gibson before making a motion unanimously passed on Aug. 28 to approve the form and content of the ballot and set Oct. 23 for a protest hearing.
"Our action today really hands off the decision to the community," Gibson added.
The Board of Supervisors also heard from staff engineer Paavo Ogren about the projected cost per household. Total sewer costs for a typical single family home will be about $25,000 or around $200 a month to be paid along with twice-yearly property tax bills. For the Vista del Oro and Baywood Estates neighborhoods, which already have some sewer pipes installed, the total cost will be $13,500 per single family home, while mobile homes will see a total price tag of $6,700.
County officials said that they're confident that grants will be available to help low-income households cope with the costs.
"But for normal, middle-class households, it will still be $200 a month," Ogren said.
Under the provisions of Prop. 218, the ballots will be considered "disclosable public records," marked with the name of the voters.
Several Los Osos residents asked supervisors to request that the Regional Water Quality Control Board promise not to examine the ballots, due to their fears of punitive measures.
A range of options for sewage treatment technology and plant locations will be considered as part of the county process, Ogren said.
"One of the strong points of the county process is keeping the door open on other technologies," he added.
A public "town hall" meeting is set for Sept. 29 at Sunnyside Elementary School in Los Osos.