Now, I probably am not as well-informed as I should be, since I live in Rio Nido (where we already pay a whopping $800 assessment per year for the Guerneville sewer -- more than we were paying in the Bay Area) & have only been here for two years.
But I harbor strong doubts about whether the Monte Rio Sewer will ever get built & am not entirely convinced that it should get built, for the following reasons:
- It's hideously expensive: The tax assessment for the sewer will be over $1000 per month per parcel (unit of real estate -- property taxes are either payed directly by property owners or passed on to tenants via rent) because the town only has something like 400 households & a handful of well-run & viable -- but not immensely wealthy & mostly family-run -- businesses amongst which to divvy up the costs (the Monte Rio Chamber of Commerce describes it as a "small community ... snuggled between the river and the redwood crested mountains."). Yegads ... unless the majority of Monte Rio denizens of my acquaintance merely act as though they work hard to make ends meet because their modesty & sense of noblesse-oblige prohibits them from flaunting their immense personal wealth, I know of very few -- if any -- people who can comfortably afford the extra $1K+ per year.
- There doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm in Monte Rio: I hear that the measure for approving the sewer project only passed by 25 votes (out of 1,104 residents, 549 households, 233 households & 807 housing units, according to the Monte Rio entry in Wikipedia). Most of the people I know or have spoken with on this subject either respond by spewing coruscating torrents of vitriol at worst or express tepid approval or resignation at best. For example, a friend confessed to me that "we do spend close to that on our septic system anyway." That's the most positive thing I've heard any one say about the prospective sewer project. This makes me wonder ... who, exactly, is for the Monte Rio sewer project? Somebody has to be.
- Problems with the proposed site: The county wants to locate the sewer treatment plant on the river-front portion of what is now Sheridan Ranch -- a beautiful, historic, ecologically-sensitive, & valuable (by the standards of environmentalists, real estate developers, businesses, & community activists alike), 20-acre property that extends from a long stretch of the river-front in the southern part of Monte Rio across River Road/116 & towards the East. Not only do significant segments of the community object, but the owners (who have listed the property for sale at $4 million) refuse to sell the river-front portion of their property to the County. I can only imagine that the eminent-domain-sale price did not appeal to them, plus, they surely must have anticipated that the presence of a sewer treatment plant along the river front would significantly devalue the remainder of their property. So far, the courts have sided with the owners of Sheridan Ranch. Even if the county succeeds in purchasing the proposed site, potential adverse environmental consequences & related studies could hold back development of the sewer for years & years.
- Proposed costs keep escalating: While a myriad of disputes rage through the community of Monte Rio, the projected costs of building the proposed sewer system continue to increase exponentially. It doesn't seem to matter how much the sewer proponents manage to raise from state agencies & others ... the costs continue to escalate beyond reach.
Do the County representatives hope to starve the residents & business people of Monte Rio into submission & subsequently hold them up as an example to the rest of us in Western Sonoma County? I suspect so, although I would prefer to think not. If they wished us well, they would encourage us to find & implement more creative solutions for our community's slow-growth needs.