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Sewer appeal faces denial

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People hoping to modify the Los Osos Wastewater Project are running out of options. Staff members of the California Coastal Commission recommended there’s no “substantial issue,” suggesting appeals filed by about 30 individuals and groups be denied.

On Jan. 14, 2010, in Huntington Beach, the Coastal Commission will begin the first step in a two-step process: Determine whether the commission will even hear the appeal. The staff recommendation is that there’s no substantial issue and no reason to start step two: an appeal hearing.

According to a commission staff report: “The county has gone to great lengths to address coastal resource issues and [Local Coastal Program] requirements through a long and inclusive public process.”

“I think it really supports all the work that the [SLO County] Planning Commission did,” Public Works Environmental Programs Manager Mark Hutchinson said.

Although there will be impacts from sewer construction, commission staffers said in their report, existing conditions from dated septic tanks need to be addressed, significant resources have gone into developing the project, and “there is no feasible, less-environmentally damaging site for the treatment plant or certain groundwater recharge components.”

The project—a 20-year attempt to replace Los Osos septic tanks with a public sewage system—has gone through almost innumerable revisions over its lifespan. The most significant recent renovations occurred under the planning commission, which relocated the treatment plant and increased the level of sewage treatment. Despite the extensive work of the planning commission, the project was appealed to SLO County supervisors mainly because it included a gravity collection system rather than a STEP system many residents want. Supervisors voted unanimously on Sept. 29 to overturn the appeal of the planning commission’s decision.

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