Hello, neighbors! My name is Tom Nelson and I am running to fill one of the open four-year seats on the Los Olivos Community Service District because I know I can balance our town’s pressing need for a cost-effective groundwater solution and our similarly pressing need to preserve the historic and rural character of our community.
Back in 2018, I opposed forming the LOCSD. Why? Because I thought that we did not need more government. Instead, we only needed to build a sewer for our town and just connect into a neighboring community service district or city’s system, and all would be good.
Guess what. I was wrong!
When I saw that 76% of Los Olivos voters decided to form the LOCSD, I knew my neighbors did not want a large-scale system, and I was curious to learn more.
When the LOCSD was formed, it was already established that a “phased” system was the preferred approach for our community. The commercial core was Phase 1, the adjacent small-lot residences were Phase 2, and the remaining residential lots were Phase 3. The plan was to start with Phases 1 and 2, using a collection system and compact package plant in, or near, the downtown core.
The system now installed at Mattei’s has since proven that this is perfectly do-able. That, and several other factors, helped me see the importance of local governance for this local issue.
First, an old-fashioned sewer for the entire district is not compatible with our way of life or our uses of this land. Large-scale infrastructure invites developers to build, build, build.
Second, it would be outrageously disruptive and expensive to build, operate and maintain a traditional sewer system and a new sewage treatment plant to serve every lot. On top of the increased assessment fees, every lot owner would also be required to pay for their own “lateral connection” to large sewer mains.
Third, the whole point of forming our own CSD was to avoid having a “big government” solution imposed on our small town.
In short, I recognize that my original, “big government” thinking was misguided. A simpler, less costly, less-growth-inducing “phased” plan had been, and still is, the right approach.
Like many of you, however, I became aware earlier this year that the plan had changed.
Curious as ever, I began digging through the LOCSD’s online records, and I learned that the LOCSD abandoned the phased plan in 2021 and has been working on an “entire district” plan ever since.
You, the community, will vote on the single plan presented to you in the Proposition 218 vote when that time comes. You will only have one choice: Either approve or reject the plan the LOCSD Board of Directors puts up for a vote.
If we do nothing, we will all get — and have to pay for — the “big government” sewer and sewage plant, and we will also pay the price of all the development that will attract.
If you want an appropriately sized, small-community system that addresses the downtown and the problematic residential area, then you have to speak up. Attend workshops, make your wishes known and exercise your right to vote!
My desire to help preserve our historic town and contain the costs of this project led me to seek appointment to fill the LOCSD board seat that opened up just a couple of months ago, and I am asking for your vote so I can help get us back to work on the right plan for our community.
Thomas A. Nelson