Looking Forward to 2021 by President Linda M. Austin
As I begin my new term on the Oceano Community Services District Board of Directors I am proud to be serving again as your President for 2021. Looking back over the past challenging year, I am filled with pride at the many accomplishments and achievements of the District.
The District completed utility line relocations in conjunction with the County project to construct drainage improvements on Highway 1 and 13th Street. The District did likewise for the County asphalt overlay of many streets throughout the community. The District also replaced substandard and leaky pipes on Norswing and Pershing Drive.
The District’s multiyear capital improvement program remains a priority goal as we look at funding alternatives to fix and upgrade our water infrastructure. The recently adopted water rate increase finally includes some funding to implement system upgrades, however, the District is also pursuing grant opportunities to lessen the burden to water rate payers. The District recently received preliminary award of over $2.7 million in grant funding for three water infrastructure projects.
The District continues to be an active partner with the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District and is working with Central Coast Blue’s Water reclamation project. Central Coast Blue is important to help ensure we have sustainable groundwater supplies.
The District continues to address illegal dumping of waste in Oceano through its Adopt-an-Alley cleanup program, adjusting the bulky item removal program to a District funded voucher program and Ready311 mobile app. At the same time, the District reduced the garbage franchise fee charged to customers by half. The District also was awarded a $10,000 grant for recycling containers and water bottle filling stations for the community.
Due to the pandemic, the District had to quickly adjust the way it does business to maintain a healthy workplace for both employees and the public. District meetings are now held via videoconference and District social media has been implemented.
Another major priority is the future of the Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA). The FCFA was created in 2010 by banding together the Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano Fire Departments to help ensure the best and most cost-effective services for residents, and owners of property and businesses. Measure A-20 was on the March ballot to provide sufficient funding to continue District participation in the FCFA. While the Measure fell only 10 votes short of the required 2/3 majority, it was clear that most voters wished to stay with FCFA, and the District is committed to working to ensure that Oceano continues to have the best level of fire and emergency services available.
Other goals for 2021 include moving from at-large District elections to district-based elections with Directors separately elected in five districts within the community. This is required to comply with the California Voting Rights Act. Lastly, the District will continue to partner with other agencies and communities to ensure that Oceano is represented in all regional efforts.
I am extremely proud to call Oceano my hometown and I know I share the pride with all the citizens who live in our hidden gem on the coast. Thank you for putting your trust in me to represent your interests!