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By Richard Gardner, Capistrano Beach

As if there isn’t enough happening right before our very eyes in this city, consider what’s happening at the South Coast Water District. On Nov. 17 the water board approved the boat and RV storage on the 30 acres of publicly owned land between the railroad and the San Juan Creek. It was a 3-2 vote; Erdman and Dietmeier opposed the motion.

Several years ago, the county asked if the water district could temporarily store 500 boats on the 30 acres. The district, which was already storing hundreds of new vehicles from the nearby car dealerships, had the room.

On the surface one would ask, “What’s the problem?” The water district will spend about $3.25 million out of reserves to grade and prepare the first 5 acres for boat and RV storage. The return on this investment will be only about $10,000 after five years. An earlier staff report concluded this was a non-starter.

Several important questions were raised by Director Erdman. Besides using ratepayer reserves to finance a temporary boat/RV storage lot, is the water district authorized to own and manage a facility that is not a core activity or even allowed in the California Water Code?

The South Coast Water District should provide groundwater treatment, recycled water facilities and desalination on the 30 acres. If there is extra public land that is not needed for these core water projects, then the public projects should go through the planning process to provide the best public uses. If 5 or 10 acres of land were available, what would you like to see in our community?

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