Los Osos is a beautiful place, but it’s woefully underappreciated and underrepresented. It’s time to change that.
Last week, I had the opportunity to observe the devastation at Vista de Oro Estates, an area ravaged by floods and a mudslide that occurred after our most recent storm. Residents showed me on their phones photos and videos including several feet of water and mud rushing down their streets and into their homes. Then they showed me the extensive damage to their now-uninhabitable homes, some of which had water up to three feet inside.
How could this have happened? The Los Osos Community Services District is responsible for maintenance and upkeep for a retention basin, which was supposed to protect lower-elevation properties in the area. Homeowners informed me the LOCSD has not only taken no responsibility for the lack of upkeep with the retention basin, the district has shown a willingness to battle residents in court over clear damages as a result of their negligence. The district had years to plan for natural disasters like that, but didn’t.
On the Vista Ct. street, there is a makeshift bulletin board with pertinent information for residents and volunteers. Who would’ve thought an inanimate bulletin board would be more impactful and present than a CSD or a county supervisor?
Though the radically gerrymandered Patten Map disenfranchised Los Osos residents from having county representation, the lack of representation has been problem for years — and the proof is literally in the water.
For decades, Los Osos struggled to assert control over their water and wastewater. Even after their long-awaited sewer was finally built, the community continues to suffer from a critical shortage of water as a result of having a seawater-compromised, overdrafted aquifer. Last year, the community association Los Osans for Good Governance (LOGG) filed a lawsuit against the county over illegally permitted builds that advanced the depletion of Los Osos’ already-dwindling water supply. The county had already expressed plans to build 30 percent more housing. In April 2022, the California Coastal Commission eventually stepped in, demanding the county halt any permit applications for any new water-consuming developments in Los Osos. The County responded to the CCC by defying them.