Los Osos Makes Property Tax History: "More than 4,000" LO Property Owners Set to be Fleeced (Again), Starting Today, November 1, 2013
After reading this, you're going to need it.
Los Osos, apparently, has made some sort of property tax history.
There have been many interesting developments in the five months since I posted my (and I'm just going to call it what it is) bombshell story -- Junk Bonds: The Twice-a-Year Fleecing of Los Osos. . . Until the Year 2034 -- where I expose how "more than 4,000" property owners in Los Osos are currently (present-tense) being fleeced, by their local government(s), twice a year (every time they cut a check for their property taxes), and will continue to be fleeced twice a year until the year 2034, as those property owners are forced, BY their local government(s), to finance, for the next two decades, a failed public works disaster, that was based on nothing but fraud.
One of those interesting developments IS that five months has now passed since I published my story, and Supervisor Bruce Gibson, whose district includes Los Osos, NOW knows about the fleecing.
Remember that whole "TWICE a year fleecing" thing?
Well, back on May 1, when I first posted that story, the April deadline for paying the second installment of the 2012/13 fiscal year property taxes had just passed, however, that was five months ago.
Fast-forward to today, November 1, and now the FIRST installment of the FY 2013/14 tax bill begins to be due, and, now, Gibson knows. Gibson now is fully aware that over 4,000 property owners in his District are being fleeced twice a year, and he just doesn't care.
How do I know that he knows?
Way back on May 13, I sent him this email:
I'm researching a story, and I'm hoping you could answer a quick question, please.
I don't know if you got a chance to read my latest post, but what I show in that piece is how the [1999 -2005] Los Osos CSD's now-failed Tri-W sewer "project" was not only based on fraud, starting in "Summer 2000," but I also show how the residents of the Prohibition Zone are STILL paying for that fraud on their property taxes, and will continue to fund that fraud for another 20 years, until the year 2034... for a non-project, that will never exist.
Now, I recently asked County Auditor-Controller, Jim Erb, if it was possible for his office to somehow cancel that line -- "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT $225.52" -- on a PZ property owner's tax bill, now that I've exposed how it was based on nothing but fraud, and he replied, "I do not know of a way to cancel the bonds other than to pay them off."
So, now I'm wondering if there's anything you can do, in your position as 2nd District Supervisor, to help the "more than 4,000" PZ property owners in Los Osos that are being fleeced twice a year -- every time they write a check for their property taxes?
Thank you in advance for your prompt response.
- - -
Of course, he never replied, because, you know, that's the way he rolls, however, even though I already knew he would never lift a finger to help those property owners (because of the massive conflicts he encounters if he tries), I still had to send him that email, because, now, I get to report that I DID send him that email on, 5/13/13, five months ago), and he just ignored it.
[Note: See how that works? It's kind of a fun (and, yes, admittedly, annoying) reporting device that I'm just going to take credit for inventing. It goes a little like this: I can't report that Bruce Gibson NOW knows that over 4,000 of his constituents are being fleeced twice a year by their local government(s), for the next 20 years, and that Gibson just doesn't care, UNLESS I send him that email, directing him to my story that shows (using nothing but primary sources, as usual) exactly how those innocent people -- over 4,000 of HIS constituents -- are being fleeced twice a year. See? Cool, huh?]
However, today, unlike last April's tax bill, where I had yet to expose the twice-a-year fleecing of over 4,000 Los Osos property owners, Supervisor Gibson NOW knows, and -- and here's the kicker, and what makes this particular chapter of the overall story story SO good -- the next tax bill starts being due today, November 1, and Gibson NOW knows that over 4,000 of his constituents are about to be fleeced... again, and he's doing absolutely nothing to prevent it.
[It's important to note Gibson's massive conflict here, and why it makes perfect sense on why he refuses to help those innocent property owners in Los Osos. In my 5/1/13 story, I point to a very specific case of fraud by the "Summer 2000" LOCSD Board of Directors, that led directly to the Tri-W assessment fraud.
It's a newsletter that hypes the CSD's first attempt at a sewer project as "on schedule." As I show in my piece, at the time of that newsletter, the project that the District is hyping as "on schedule" had already failed, and the person that produced the newsletter, then-LOCSD vice-president, Pandora Nash-Karner, was aware that her project, that she used to create the LOCSD in the first place, in 1998, HAD already failed at the time she created her official LOCSD "news"letter.
In my piece, I go so far as to ask an attorney if that is fraud. He told me, "Yes. That is fraud."
Pandora Nash-Karner is the current SLO County Parks Commissioner for the 2nd District... wait for it... appointed by Supervisor Gibson.
In other words, IF Gibson were to lift a finger to help the more than 4,000 property owner in "The PZ," that are being fleeced twice a year for the next 20 years, he would be acknowledging the obvious fraud that his own Parks Commissioner committed back in "Summer 2000" -- fraud that led to an unimaginably horrific (on a human toll), mind-boggingly wasteful (on a public funds toll), painfully destructive (on an environmental toll), 13-year-and-counting absolute catastrophe.
So, yeah, it makes PERFECT sense on why Supervisor Gibson would NOT want to help over 4,000 Los Osos property owners from being fleeced every time they write a check for their property taxes... for the next 20 years.]
So, on 9/10/13, four months after my first email, I sent Gibson this email:
Sorry to bother you again, but I never received a reply to my email [above] (sent on 5/13/13), and now it's getting down to crunch time, because, starting on Nov. 1, when the next round of property taxes becomes due, "more than 4,000" Los Osos property owners are about to be fleeced AGAIN, when they are forced to pay the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment fraud... again.
Apparently, Los Osos has made tax assessment history. I have now spoken with three county officials, and searched the heck out of Google, and no one seems to have ever heard of this happening before: Where property owners pass an assessment for a public works project, however, years later, it turns out that the so-called "project" was based on nothing but fraud, and, therefore, it was never built (because it was based on nothing but fraud), yet, the property owners are still paying for it... for another 20 years.
And because of that unprecedented-ness, no one seems to know what to do in this situation.
Today, I spoke with Jim Hamilton at the County Auditor's office, and he told me that now it is too late to remove the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" line from the "more than 4,000" Los Osos PZ property tax bills that are set to be mailed out next month.
[Note: Quick clarification on that -- It's not that the Auditor's office had the authority to remove that line anyway -- that excellent question, actually, is still up in the air -- but, IF they could have found a way to remove the line from the 2013/14 tax bill, it was too late to do it by the time I spoke with Hamilton. That's the take-away there. Now, back to my email...]
So, here's what I recommend:
- [O.K., one more editor's note, and it's a long one.
Before I get to my "recommendation," it's important to keep in mind, at this point in the story, that there are TWO different tax assessments in play here, as I show in the graphic at the top of this story:
"SLO AD-LO SWR (USDA) $712.58"
... from the County of SLO, stemming from an assessment vote Los Osos property owners passed back in 2007, and actually IS going to pay for a REAL project -- the sewer system currently under construction in Los Osos, that County officials developed over the past six years.
Then there's THIS line on a PZ property owner's bill:
"LOCSD WASTE TREATMT $225.38"
... that "$225.38," is going towards absolutely nothing.
4,203 ("to be exact") properties in Los Osos pay that assessment twice a year, every year, and have paid that assessment for the past 10 years -- roughly $1.1 million/year combined, or some $11 million to date -- and the only thing that money does is pay back the investors that purchased the bonds back in 2003 -- a nearly $20 million "investment," that was completely wasted by the Los Osos CSD on their Tri-W "project" assessment fraud.
However, these days -- and here's another great kicker -- those investors are still cashing in on those "30-year bonds," and will continue to cash in on those fraud-based bonds for the next two decades, all while more than 4,000 property owners in Los Osos are stuck financing those investors' terrible and extremely risky (obviously) investment.
I mean, fer god's sake, look at what those investors bought into, back in 2003: A community sewer system that called for an industrial strength sewer plant, smack-dab in the middle of Los Osos -- three blocks upwind of downtown -- and, of course, because the sewer plant was in the middle of town, millions upon millions of additional tax dollars had to be spent to accommodate a "mid-town" sewer plant, and, as I originally exposed in one of my New Times cover stories, back in 2004, the ONLY reason the LOCSD was building their sewer plant in the middle of town in the first place, was (and, although it sounds like I'm making this up, I'm not) so the town folk could more easily access the "picnic area" that LOCSD officials designed into their downtown sewer plant, when there isn't a shred of documentable evidence, anywhere, that shows that the people of Los Osos even wanted to "picnic" in their sewer plant to begin with... of course. Astonishing.
And the investors that are STILL cashing in on those bonds, invested in THAT highly risky mess.
However, and here's the rub, sources that I've contacted for this story, regarding the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment, keep telling me a version of this take: That the assessment is legit these days -- even though it was originally for a "project" that will now never exist -- because SLO County officials were able to salvage much of the "work" from the LOCSD's disaster, and that saved millions in the County's design process.
But here's the HUGE problem with that take: Obviously, the SLO County Public Works Department didn't use ALL of the District's deeply, deeply flawed design, yet, the Public Works Dept. has never revealed how much, if any, they were able to salvage from the LOCSD's disaster, despite the fact that I have asked that question to SLO County Public Works officials numerous times, without a single response... of course.
So, with all that in mind, NOW back to my "recommendation" to Gibson...]
The County needs to conduct some sort of audit (or whatever) that shows exactly which parts of the [1999 - 2005] LOCSD's $25 million worth of their sewer "project" design that the County was able to salvage for its project -- collection system plans, environmental documents, etc. -- and what the County didn't use, like the LOCSD's "infeasible" mid-town sewer plant/"picnic area" -- a VERY expensive-to-design (and begin construction on) treatment facility, that turned out to be based on nothing but fraud (as my reporting has repeatedly shown over the past decade), and, therefore, will never exist.
In other words, how much of the $25 million that the (1999) - 2005 LOCSD spent (read: wasted) on the Tri-W "sewer-park" fraud was the county able to salvage for its project?
$1 million? $10 million? Zero?
Once that audit is complete, it will show how much of the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment money actually went to a real sewer project, and how much went to the LOCSD's fraud.
Only then will we know if the PZ property owners, that have been paying that fraud-based assessment since 2003/04, are TODAY actually funding real sewer project related stuff, or they are now only funding the fraud, and will continue to fund that fraud until the year 2034.
This is also very important: If that audit is not complete by November 1, and considering that it is now too late to remove the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" line from the next property tax bill, I also recommend that the Board of Supervisors direct the tax collector's office to go ahead and collect the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment (starting on Nov. 1), however, instead of using that money to pay off the bond holders (whose names are heretofore unknown, despite my numerous attempts to acquire that information), the County establish some sort of special account, where the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" funds are held until the audit determines whether or not more than 4,000 Los Osos property owners are actually paying for REAL sewer project related design information with the "LOCSD WASTE TREATMT" assessment, or whether they are now simply being fleeced twice a year, by funding the fraud, and, if it's the latter, then that entire assessment now needs to disappear completely, ASAP, and the funds held in that special account returned to the property owners.
So, again, is that something you can help with?
The clock is ticking: Only 51 days until November 1, when "more than 4,000" Los Osos property owners are set to be fleeced... again.
Thank you for your time,
- - -
And now it's November 1, and still no reply from Gibson, of course, but now look what I get to do:
Uh, over 4,000 Los Osos property owners? Here's Bruce Gibson's email address:
All you have to do is click on that link (I even have it all set-up where the subject line, Gibson's email address, and even a cc to SewerWatch are automatically inserted), and then simply send him something like (or just copy-and-paste this):
- - -
Dear Supervisor Gibson,
As a property owner in the Prohibition Zone, I am strongly requesting that you instruct the SLO County Public Works Department to conduct an audit that shows exactly what parts of the LOCSD's $25 million worth of their now-failed sewer "project" design, that the County was able to salvage for its project -- collection system plans, environmental documents, etc. -- and what parts the County didn't use, like the LOCSD's "infeasible" mid-town sewer plant/"picnic area" -- a VERY expensive-to-design (and begin construction on) treatment facility, that turned out to be based on nothing but fraud, and, therefore, of course, will never exist.
If it's not asking too much, I would prefer knowing whether my LOCSD WASTE TREATMT assessment money is actually going to fund REAL sewer related stuff, or if it's now simply funding the LOCSD's disastrous Tri-W assessment fraud, and will continue to fund nothing but that horrific fraud... until the year 2034!?
[Insert your name here]
- - -
Obviously, Gibson will never respond to me, but, considering that he's recently announced his bid for re-election, he just might -- despite his massive conflict -- listen to over 4,000 property owners in Los Osos, the largest voting bloc in District 2.
[O.K. Final Note: I ALSO cc'd the two emails above to reporters at The Tribune, New Times, and CalCoastNews, and also supplied them with the link to my 5/13/13 story that first exposed the fleecing, which means that THEY all know now, too, yet, to date, they ALL refuse to write a word on how over 4,000 property owners in Los Osos are currently being fleeced twice a year, by their own local government(s)... for the next 20 years, as those property owners are forced to fund a fraud-based, public works non-"project," that will never exist.
And, because the worse-than-nothing local (air quotes) "media" is SOOOOOO worse than nothing, I recently did something very out of character for shy, little ol' me. Solely in an effort to push this spectacular story forward (because, it's painfully obvious that the local "media" will never help in that regard), I signed up on Twitter!: @SewerWatch_Blog. So now, y'all can "follow" me, as I (at least) continue to follow this amazing story. Be sure to tell your friends, especially if they own property in "The PZ." : -) ]