SLO County reaches $9.95 million settlement in Los Osos sewer lawsuit

San Luis Obispo County has agreed to pay $9.95 million to a Los Osos Wastewater Project contractor who filed a law suit demanding payment for uncompensated construction work. The settlement agreement is slated to go before the SLO County Board of Supervisors for final approval on Tuesday.

The County is working with state and federal partners to explore low-interest funding options in an effort to avoid potential rate increases in Los Osos because of the settlement, the county said in a press release. In the end, the residents of Los Osos will be responsible for covering the cost of the settlement.

“We have the best interest of Los Osos residents in mind,” said Wade Horton, SLO County’s chief administrative officer, in a press release. “Trying this case in court would take significant time and money and wouldn’t benefit the people of Los Osos.”

In its lawsuit, ARB alleged that inadequate planning by the county caused its workers to undergo numerous tasks not accounted for in its contract. County officials then refused to compensate ARB for the extra work and instead threatened to withhold payments for contracted duties.

Sewer workers discovered numerous underground facilities and construction interferences including an Indian burial ground, that were not noted in contract documents. After ARB submitted change orders, the county retaliated by threatening to withhold compensation for contractual duties if the firm did not make concessions on its claims, according to the suit.

But, ARB did not concede its demands. The firm filed an official claim, which the county denied, and then sued in 2014 for breach of contract and breach of implied warranty.

Two months later, the county filed a cross complaint saying ARB had failed to follow procedures and inform the county regarding the increased costs.

In March 2013, ARB workers encountered a Chumash burial ground while digging trenches in its construction area. The workers then hand-dug the area to avoid damaging human remains and Chumash artifacts.

ARB likely incurred additional costs, as well, by piping water it removed from trenches to a field in the center of town in order to help replenish the aquifer. The other sewer construction contractor, W.A. Rasic, merely dumped the water it extracted into Morro Bay.

“I hold my supervisor, Bruce Gibson, fully responsible,” said local activist Julie Tacker. “He was warned during construction and did nothing about it.”

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6 Comments about “SLO County reaches $9.95 million settlement in Los Osos sewer lawsuit”

  1. Rose Robertson says:

    Both ARB & County Planning were well aware of the fact that the entire town of Los Osos is situated on top land that is sacred & of cultural significance to the California Native American Chumas.

    All parties were clearly advised of the massive enviromental impacts & delays, added costs etc. when Project Chairman Patterson requested enviromental groups to prepare an informentional document August 2008, to be used when considering rhe least imact on their thousand year old burial grounds.

    Read the online ” Statement of Key Enviromental Issues Los Osos wastewatrt Treatment Project: Collection System”.

    SLO County had full athority in the decision making of where to place the treatment plant when they wisely chose the out of town location rather than upwind of our entite business sectiom.
    They also had full authority to select the less costly shallow collection system recommended.

    Remember, the nitrate probelems we were commissioned to solve was in the pee, not the poop.
    The Couunt rejected the shallow line-boring collection system as well as the more costly treatment system to handle the solids etc. Also, they adopted the most dangerous collection system in the event of and earthquake due liquefaction, as they were clearly advised.

    Seemiingly, the County planners new full well they owed ARB for the delays at the time ARB presented their documents, but chose to put off payment until the plant was built for more political BS reasons. That’s why the are agreeing to pay today, they would surely loose when all the facts come out & the community reads the facts. Why would it cost our community 10 $$$ to fight the counties battle.

    Perhaps the Grand Jury should look into this matter?

    1. Rose Robertson says:

      Correction………guess one should proof read prior to posting eh?

      “The County rejected the shallow line-boring collection system and adopted the more costly treatment system to handle the solids etc.”

  2. William J Sidis says:

    “avoid potential rate increases in Los Osos ”

    LOL! Yeah, good luck with that one. These sewer settlement rate increases should take effect about the same time as the Diablo Canyon offset property tax increases. Good luck Los Osos.

  3. RichBench says:

    Once again there seems to be a real disconnect within the Board of Supervisors and the communities they are suppose to serve.

    So once again the (People) must pay for another settlement in the mega millions for once again incompetence in the County Sups and County Attorneys office. The County still not told the people or the tax payers how much was wasted on the Fake Digging for Kristin Smart on Cal Poly as there were NO items or evidence to connect any of the animal bones found did not connect to the missing student.

    As the SLO Sheriff’s Office has many flaws and these flaws have cost us Millions in tax payer funds, and more settlement to come. t is far past time to elect new people into the the DA’s Office, Sheriffs Office, Judges who got a pass and din not have to run, nor were they chosen by the people. So at least two local Lawyers are going to run for the Bench, I will be voting for them both Illan-Funke Bilu and DDA Andy Cadena it is up to we the people to vote them in office not appointed by the outgoing Governor .

    The time is now for the People to stand up and Vote

    1. William J Sidis says:

      Rich, reading your posts makes my head spin. Could you clean it up a bit so you are easier to follow? You make a couple of good points but confused me with criticism of the DA’s office and then vow to vote for a DDA.

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