As Featured in The Tribune

Here’s our viewpoint, which was published in the May 15, 2018 edition of The Tribune. Some of the viewpoint was later addressed at the City of Morro Bay’s Q&A session on May 16. Our response to the City will be posted shortly.

Dear Morro Bay City Council: Give us a sewer project we can afford

Morro Bay’s controversial Water Reclamation Facility is racing after five years of city-led delays, no set project budget and a revolving door of consultants in lieu of a project management team. The result? The largest public works project our city’s history – five years after the city told residents the project would only cost an additional $12 million to $20 million than the current plant.

It’s also been three years since voters approved water and sewer rate hikes for a $75 million plant. Now residents are expected to pay at least twice as much for a flawed project without any accounting of how the money is being spent for rate hikes they already approved.

What went wrong?

The city spent five years considering 17 alternative project sites, but not cost-efficient projects. They finally chose the South Bay location as their preferred WRF site, but did so before the completion of an environmental impact report. An EIR provides a comprehensive review of project alternatives and locations. With extensive public analysis and input, a finalized EIR would help the council make a more informed decision on siting.

After five years of unnecessarily spending millions of ratepayer dollars on a myriad of consultants, the city hired a program manager. Despite Councilman Robert Davis’ faint praise of Morro Bay’s Citizens for Affordable Living (CAL), the city excluded CAL’s representative from interviewing the manager they ultimately selected. According to Public Works Director Rob Livick, the city selected the new program manager with the help of a sub-committee that held no public meeting for three months prior.

Last year, Mr. Davis voted to oust CAL member Richard Sadowski from the Planning Commission after Mr. Sadowski sharply criticized the WRF at a City Council meeting. In March, the City Council refused to vote on the motion to nominate a CAL member for the WRF Citizens Advisory Committee.

The city commissioned an expert peer review report with input from licensed, reputable public works officials throughout the county. Mr. Davis claims the peer review identified only $17 million in cost savings. Yet in their key findings, the same peer review panel identified cost savings between $38 million and $43 million to construct a project on or near the existing project site. This was their recommendation for the most effective way to reduce construction costs.

The city will be reviewing only two design-build proposals from two firms with conflicts of interest. Multi-national engineering firm AECOM’s bid appeared on the short list under the stewardship of Michael Nunley, Morro Bay’s former program manager previously employed by AECOM for nearly five years. Global engineering company Black & Veatch is the second company to bid, yet they’re bidding on a project based on specifications outlined in the $800,000 Facilities Master Plan they authored. That is not a competitive bidding process.

Residents want a better, more compliant project to be completed in a timely and efficient manner, but not at any cost. Voting no on the upcoming Proposition 218 vote would send a strong, unified message to the city: “You delayed. We paid. Enough is enough.” Bring us a more cost-efficient project that we can vote yes for.

2 thoughts on “As Featured in The Tribune”

  1. Pingback: What We Learned at the City’s Q&A Session – Save Morro Bay

  2. From: “Mark Low”
    To: “Dana Swanson”
    Cc: “Council” , “scollins”
    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 8:09:58 AM
    Subject: With COST HARNESSES such as these three below, there will be no incentive for the “Actors” to cut costs.
    Page 98 of 168 shows the Proposed Desalination Site adjacent to the current WWTP site.

    (1) ENR 20 City Average Construction Cost Index for February 2018 is 10,889.
    (2) Estimated Construction Cost includes a 30% contingency of the baseline construction cost.
    (3) Total project costs includes a 10% markup for engineering, a 10% markup for construction management and a 7.5% markup for project administration of the estimated construction cost.

    Ms. Swanson’s continuing professionalism is an inspiration for me to match the level of her high degree of energetic and ethical competence.
    I can only imagine how that kind of good, spread to every corner of Morro Bay City Government, would turn the current chaos to calm, in very short order.

    I watched this video yesterday after speaking with Eric Casares.
    “Over indulgence-a deficiency of Vitamin N-Leads to its own form of addiction. (Citizen Money)

    Insert Citizen for Parent and City Council, Mayor, PWD and yes City Manager for Child.
    If this exercise is too much, then WE have much bigger problem to solve. Time will tell.

    Oh, What is it exactly the Eric Casares is “negotiating?”

    Ms. Swanson, NO action required on your part regarding this communication.
    From: “Dana Swanson”
    To: “Mark Low”
    Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:06:58 PM
    Subject: RE: CIPs have been developed for the water distribution and sewer collection systems and deficiencies under both current and future conditions have been identified for the stormwater system.

    Mr. Low,

    The CIPs you request were just released with the May 22, 2018 City Council Meeting agenda packet (Item C-1).


    Dana Swanson

    City Clerk/Risk Manager

    City of Morro Bay

    595 Harbor Street

    Morro Bay, CA 93442

    Office: (805) 772-6205

    Fax: (805) 772-7329

    [email protected]

    Morro Bay City Seal

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