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Los Olivos Voters to Cast Ballots in Measure P Election

Residents will decide whether to form community services district to oversee creation of a wastewater-treatment system

Residents in the town of Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley will begin voting next week on whether to form a community services district to tackle wastewater problems. Click to view larger
Residents in the town of Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley will begin voting next week on whether to form a community services district to tackle wastewater problems. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Residents of Los Olivos will decide in January whether to form a community services district to create a wastewater-treatment system for the Santa Ynez Valley town.

The Santa Barbara County Elections Division is set to send ballots and voter information guides next week to the approximately 500 registered voters in the small community that has been plagued by septic tank troubles.

In a vote-by-mail ballot, residents will decide whether to support Measure P, which would form a community services district, and whether to levy a property tax to provide start-up funding for the new agency.

Ballots are due by 8 p.m. Jan. 30 in the county Elections Office, with Jan. 22 as the last day to mail them, county elections offcials said.

To pass, the measure needs approval from more than two-thirds, or 66 percent, of voters.

Residents also will decide whether five candidates should become the first members of the new community services district’s board of directors. 

The voting will culminate months of work by a grassroots group whose members opposed their community’s annexation to the Santa Ynez Community Services District and other proposals.

Members of the group urged the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission to allow residents of the 130-year-old community to have a chance for local control and self determination regarding their future. 

A map shows the proposed boundaries of the Los Olivos Community Services District. Click to view larger
A map shows the proposed boundaries of the Los Olivos Community Services District. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

For decades, Los Olivos has been designated a special problem area due to concerns with septic tanks and groundwater amid increasingly stringent regulations.

A protest hearing failed to generate enough objections to stop the election.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” proponents of Measure P said, adding that alternatives imposed on the residents by other agencies likely would cost more.

“There are no cost-free solutions,” proponents added. “Whether we form our own CSD or are annexed to another agency, every resident will foot the bill for administrative and wastewater system costs.

“Who better to determine the best treatment solution and control those costs than five of your neighbors, elected by you to a CSD board, who must pay the same assessments and taxes everyone will pay? 

A meet-the-candidates forum is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Los Olivos School gym, 2540 Alamo Pintado Road. 

Five people are seeking the five seats — Mike Arme, public works utility contractor; Tom Fayram, registered civil engineer with decades of work for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Deparment; Julie Kennedy, a Los Olivos School District trustee; Brian O’Neill, a senior program manager for AECOM Technical Services; and Lisa Palmer, who has three decades of communications experience.

“We couldn't ask for a better team of neighbors to help guide us through district formation, design our wastewater solution, control its price tag and costs, negotiate favorable financing for residents, and offer the most effective and cost-conscious approach to ongoing operating, maintenance, and regulatory reporting,” proponents said.

While the sample ballot includes a written argument supporting Measure P, it lacks an argument from opponents of the CSD formation.

Residents who want to vote in this election can register until the deadline Jan. 16.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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