Council approves Water System Master Plan

PASO ROBLES — Former City Councilmember Maria Garcia was issued a proclamation from Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin during the Tuesday, Sept. 20, City Council meeting. 

Garcia was elected to City Council in November 2018 as the third woman elected to the council — the first was elected in 1984. In August, Garcia resigned from her seat on City Council due to a change in her personal residency that precludes her from continuing to serve as a council member. Garcia’s term of office was set to expire on Dec. 1 of this year.

Chris Bausch, former Paso Robles Joint Unified School District trustee, was appointed to fill Garcia’s seat. He is also the only candidate running for the District 2 City Council position that Garcia was representing. Tuesday night was Bausch’s first meeting as a City Council member.

Mayor Martin read the proclamation, which stated, “Maria’s time in the Paso Robles community and on City Council was distinguished by her commitment to economic and business development for all, public safety, affordable housing, equitable representation and raising the profile of the Hispanic community.”

Garcia told the council chamber that while she has had to take a step back from City Council, she is planning to remain heavily involved with the community. 

“Everything that Mr. Martin just read, it seemed like a lot,” said Garcia. “But when your passionate about a community and when you have your whole heart in it, it doesn’t seem like you’re actually doing so much because it’s a part of who you are.”

During her tenure on the council, Garcia volunteered for liaison positions with Community Action Partnership of SLO, Downtown Paso Robles Main Street Assn., Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, and the Paso Robles Housing Authority, along with alternate liaison positions with the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Economic Vitality Corporation, Homeless Services Oversight Committee, Library Board of Trustees and the Youth Commission.

Prior to her run for City Council, Garcia was president of the Hispanic Community Foundation and eventually helped found the Hispanic Business Association in 2011. In 2017 she was nominated for Woman of the Year by the County of San Luis Obispo Commission on the Status of Women for her work in the Paso Robles community.

Garcia also presented a Certificate of Recognition to the City of Paso Robles from the Mexican Consolate which commended the city for highlighting contributions made by the Latino and Mexican community and for enhancing a multi-cultural community.

Later in the meeting, the council discussed and unanimously approved the 2020 Water System Master Plan. The Master Plan assesses the condition and capacity of the city’s water distribution infrastruction but does not evaluate the sufficiency of the city’s water supplies.

The updated Master Plan recommends improvement of nearly five miles of mains and pipelines to meet existing demands and sustain fire flows for existing customers.

The cost of the improvements is estimated to cost $12.1 million. Additionally, the plan estimates improvements to water mains and storage tanks to cost $17.1 million. According to the staff report, these projects will be funded by new development and connection fees.

The staff report also recommended budgeting between $1.3 million and $2.6 million annually for rehabilitation and replacement of water distribution system assets, totaling $77.6 million over the next 30 years to address aging infrastructure. 

According to their report, of that amount, “approximately $60.3 million is recommended for pipeline rehabilitation and replacement, and $17.3 million for rehabilitation and replacement of pump stations, tanks, and wells. These estimated costs and guidelines for funding asset rehabilitation and replacement will be reflected in the City’s water utility rate study that is currently underway.”

Councilman John Hamon requested to close the meeting in memory of locals and business owners Sherman Smoot and Aaron Hogue, who both died recently in seperate aviation accidents. 

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m.