It is an historical and current fact that a great deal of Olde Towne Nipomo rests in a flood plain. See (VC 12 and 13). This rainy season has reminded not only the local Nipomo residents, but also the County Board of Supervisors. Today's Tribune notes that Nipomo faces even more flooding problems, despite the fact the San Luis Obispo County is spending $1.8 million to alleviate flood control problems:
Olde Towne Nipomo escaped flooding from the recent rainstorms because silt and debris had been cleared from under three bridges in February.
But county officials warn that the area, a designated flood zone, could continue to have problems, even as they prepare to spend more than $1.8 million adding and repairing six culverts before next winter.
Unfortunately the $1.8 million allocated by the County apparently not be enough to completely solve this long time flooding problem:
While Nipomo is getting a majority of the nearly $3 million recently allocated by supervisors to help ease flooding around the county, it may not be enough.
"It’s not a permanent solution," Achadjian said, "but this money will ease the pain."
The other $1.13 million of the county allocation will go toward easing flooding problems in Cambria, Oceano, Cayucos and San Miguel. Construction will start after the county secures the necessary permits.
So, the logical next question is who pays for the further required improvements. Someone will have to foot the bill, as it costs money to do anything, whether it be alleviate flooding or build and repair roads. One suggestion, particularly raising taxes on some Olde Towne residents or land owners who would specifically benefit from the improvements is not very popular:
Meanwhile, county Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, who represents the area, has proposed a property tax increase to pay for even more improvements.
It’s a proposal that upsets two residents who lobbied hardest for the county to fix the flooding problems.
"Our taxes are already high enough," said Daniel Diaz. "I don’t think anybody in Nipomo would go for it. They’re trying to gouge us again. We need to be helped, not hurt."
With community cooperation, Achadjian is suggesting creating an assessment district that would add to property tax bills for people living in flood-prone areas in Olde Towne. That money would go specifically to fixing flooding problems.
It doesn't sound like some of the Olde Towne residents favor that approach. Rather, they would prefer the County pay for the entire repair–whatever that cost might be. The problem with that solution is that the County has to obtain the funding from somewhere. If it is not already allocated within the general fund, then the county would have to propose a tax hike for the entire county, or somehow come up with more funding. I'm wondering how people down here in Nipomo would feel about paying for flood repair up in Cayucos or Cambria ? To an extent we do, as do they; but, for repairs that require funding above and beyond what the County has already providing Nipomo and other parts of the county, just where do people think that funding should come from? It seems to me, that the most fair and equitable solution would be to have those residents that benefit most from the further improvements pay for the costs. Someone is going to have to pay for further flood repair. Who should bear the burden of that cost? The entire county, even those portions not directly affected by the flooding and subsequent repair? Or, those most affected?
Flood control assessment districts as that proposed by Katcho are not new:
An assessment district is already in the works in another part of the South County.
The Zone 1/1A district would use local control to protect several hundred homes from the badly silted Arroyo Grande and Los Berros creek channels.
Property owners there will vote in June whether to pay $390 a year to have a local task force maintain the channels.
Support for a Nipomo district has to come from local residents, Achadjian said.
He doesn’t want it to appear that the county is forcing it on them.
Clearly the Olde Towne property owners are faced with a difficult question, as are residents throughout the county. I don't know of any easy solutions. Clearly more work needs to be done to alleviateOlde Towne flooding problems. Who best to pay for those improvements and work?