Los Olivos is a small, dusty, western town, while Washington, D.C., is a former swamp in north Virginia. Unlike Washington, Los Olivos neither needs nor wants a big government “solution” in search of a problem.
The Los Olivos Community Services District Board is ignoring its original plan, endorsed by voters and county regulators, for a small-scale, phased, sewage-treatment solution serving and located in downtown Los Olivos. Instead, the board has been pursuing a sewage plant that can process two and one-half times more effluent on a site three times as large as the original plan. In violation of state law and county planning requirements, the large, centralized plant would be located outside the district’s boundaries on scenic, protected, agricultural land at the gateway to Los Olivos, and that land would be seized from its longtime owner through eminent domain.
This is a big government “solution” to a problem that might not exist or might be the responsibility of someone other than district residents. Despite having spent more than four years and well over a million dollars, the board has no idea as to the existence, extent, or source of our groundwater problem.
Relentlessly pursuing the largest possible system, the district has done no groundwater testing and has relied on a single problematic result from one test well drilled nearly 50 years ago. That report stated that activities north of the district could be impairing the groundwater quality, which would make it the responsibility of someone other than district taxpayers! Even with this knowledge, the board ignored the advice of its engineering firm and decided not to drill the advised test wells.
Spending tens of millions of dollars, seizing property, tearing up the downtown business district, building a large-scale system that will require an expensive, permanent bureaucracy to operate and maintain — makes absolutely no sense. As President Reagan, a man who knew and loved this valley, warned us: “Government is not the solution; Government is the problem.”
The board must stop wasting limited resources on grandiose solutions to undefined problems. Los Olivos needs to be the priority, not big-government South County elites.