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With only a scant quorum of directors on hand, the Community Services District board of directors on Wednesday covered a few topics and emphasized the financial significance of an upcoming workshop on the construction of a new water treatment plant.

Developer John Sullivan, in public comments, made it clear that negotiations for a financing and services agreement to build the plant are in disarray. 

The board workshop will address Sullivan’s proposal for rebuilding and expanding the water treatment facilities.  Sullivan wants the plant for his Murieta Gardens hotel project.  His proposal would commit the CSD to funding about $4 million of the cost.

Until recently, the CSD board has been united in support of a decades-old policy of having developers pay in advance for infrastructure needed for their development.  The board seems ready now to scuttle that approach.

In an aside, President Jerry Pasek noted that if the CSD paid for the entire project at current interest rates it would cost only $6 a month per household.

Director Betty Ferraro said Murietans need to be involved because their money will be involved.  She and Pasek encouraged Murietans to attend a workshop on the plant scheduled for 2 p.m. April 26 at the CSD Building.

Directors Bobbi Belton and Paul Gumbinger could not attend the meeting.

Previous coverage:

In brief

  • The board agreed to begin recording its committee meetings and saving the recordings for a year.
  • The board also awarded a $6,500 contract to provide 360-degree evaluations of management and supervisory staff.  Pasek said the idea is to help these employees improve their job performance.

Live-blog coverage of the meeting follows.

Candy Chand's picture
Joined: 08/15/2007
Posts: 304
Post rating: 811

CSD and the good old boy's club

Is CSD a true government agency, or a good old boy's club?

When it comes to the water treatment plant, it shouldn't matter if the developer is an "out of towner," or-- with the case of John Sullivan-- a neighbor. Development must be planned appropriately and infrastructure designed accordingly.

While I have not always agreed with CSD's General Manager, Ed Crouse, I have always appreciated his strong stance regarding the water plant. On this issue, despite years of developer pressure, Ed has never waivered.

Not. Even. Once.

Sadly, there seems to be a growing movement at CSD with some directors who appear to be allowing their personal friendships to dictate solid planning decisions. Personal friendships should never come before the fiscal security of the community, as well as residents' health and safety (water quality for families) .

It should not matter if the developer is a local, a golfing buddy, or someone to share a beer with at the club.

The same standards must apply to all--standards that protect the community, not the developer's bottom line.

One doesn't need to glance back too far to recall poor developer generated decisions that delivered the community a costly state sewage Cease and Desist order. Do we really need to go there, again, only this time with the state health department? I know for certain: they are watching closely.

Please remember: Unlike the RMA, or Golf, board of directors, the CSD is a true government organization. Directors of the CSD board are held to a far higher standard, and remain firmly under the investigative jurisdiction of the Grand Jury.

Do the right thing: #NoSpecialFavorsForDevelopers
Candy Chand


John Merchant's picture
Joined: 08/30/2007
Posts: 122
Post rating: 225

Water Plant Proposal

And here I thought nobody was watching!

After Karen wrote her last article about this new financing concept,  I stopped into the CSD committee meeting to see what John Sullivan had in mind.  I was surprised not so much by the concept,  but more by the fast track that Jerry and Paul Gumbinger seemed to be on to make this project happen.

CSD has NO liabilities. We operate our water delivery system with $40 million in assets,  all of which have been financed by developers who have willingly put up cash and letters of credit to build the necessary water infrastructure PRIOR to developing their property.  

I understand John's need to have water to build a hotel.  I like John and I appreciate the many things he has done to make Murieta a better place.  I even like his hotel idea.  What I don't like is financing his development.  What I don't like (even more)  is the benefit this infrastructure provides to the Pension Trust Fund,  the primary owner of Murieta's undeveloped property.  I am not interested in enhancing the value of PTF's holdings at my expense.  If PTF wants to make it's property (which is for sale) more valuable or more saleable, I suggest the best way to do that is to pony up and build a water plant and related infrastructure.

Candy has it right about our long standing policy.  I have negotiated water plant deals as much as anybody in our community.  It would have been INCONCIEVABLE to me (and to Ed Crouse and the other board members) that we would pay for ANY of this infrastructure.

We DO need to make upgrades to our existing plant that services those of us who live here.  I am all for that.  We have been reserving money to do that and as a ratepayer you and I are paying that as part of our monthly bill.  Why not spend that million dollars (vs $6 million) and wait for development to pay for the water that it will need to move forward?

Why give away all of our negotiating power? About the only leverage we ever had with these guys was to insist they provide ALL the necessary infrastructure.  So now a developer shows up and says to us  "Here I am....Hook me up please.  Gosh,  what a great water plant you guys have.  Thanks so much for building that for us.  Can I have the names of your ratepayers so I can send them a thank you card?"

There is also a math problem.  The plant lease costs are $23,000 per month for the $4 million the board is asking us to pony up.  If there are 2500 ratepayers,  that comes to $9.20 per ratepayer per month. Being we are already committing the bucks we reserved for fixing our own "stuff", I don't see where the offsetting money comes from.  It will not be $6 per month.  Very fuzzy math.

The real cost of the plant is $6 million.  That means the board plans to pull the collected reserves (which were collected to fix our existing infrastructure) and add to it a $1,000,000 Letter of Credit that CSD now sits on that was in place to provide additional capacity for development on the South. I would really like it explained in detail at the meeting how they plan to make that happen. If that plan does not work,  are you going to come back to us to finance the "other" million.

Jerry's position is that we have to do this NOW.  If we don't, the $6 million plant is going to cost $12 million.  That is a bit rediculous.  Water plant construction costs do not double just because contractors get busy.  And just think......if we did not have to worry about financing it,  there would be no reason to care what the cost would be.  That would be a development problem. Jerry also makes the point that there are no developers with the kind of money needed to build this infrastructure.  That too is rediculous.  Please check the closing prices on the major homebuilders on the NYSE of late.  There is plenty of money around.  When the demand here catches up (and we will be LAST again!), the money to build a water plant will not be an issue.  It never was in the past and it won't be in the future.

I would hope this is not a hasty, quick vote.  We all know that we will not be able to build this for the stated $6 per month per ratepayer.  Whatever the cost,  you are asking each of us to finance this every month for the NEXT 30 YEARS.  I suggest that infrastructure costs of this nature would be better put to the ratepayers as a bond issue.  Everybody gets to vote and you ultimately get cheaper financing.  Better yet,  just fix what needs fixing.  Work with John to see if there is a water trade or augmentation that can be accomplished to hook him up with the tiny bit of water he needs.  We need a row boat.  The board wants to build the Queen Mary.

I hope many of you will take an interest in this.  This is one of the more costly ventures that the CSD or RMA will ever put in front of you.  Those of you who thought the Community Center was a boondoggle should take a special interest in this.  At least you would have been building the Community Center for yourselves and your kids.  Saying yes to this deal means we are spending equivalent amounts of money to benefit entities that could buy us ten times over.  They do not need our money.

So it might just be worth it to go to this meeting on April 26.  You could save yourself some bucks.

Candy Chand's picture
Joined: 08/15/2007
Posts: 304
Post rating: 811

Who would have "thunk" it. :)

Strange things do happen. John Merchant and I are in agreement. At least on this issue. :)

I do disagree with him, however, about hotel water availability. We can't just hook Sullivan up with the "tiny bit of water" he needs for the hotel. Treated water availability is simply not there. For water quality and to avoid state fines, we just can't go there. Not without a new plant--as CSD has always insisted (until now).

John is right, however, about who benefits from this twisted proposal. This proposal benefits the PTF. And, surprise, it also benefits Sullivan. (who is in negotiations to buy the remaining 800 acres in Murieta from PTF)

If this water plant cheap fix is voted through by the CSD board, Sullivan will likely close on the remaining Murieta land because suddenly things will pencil out. Then, all the other developers will line up to destroy Murieta with their non-viable projects.

Because they can.

Bottom line, this is really about full buildout and lining the pockets of developers with an inferior, cheap fix. A fix that will cost residents dearly in the end..  

Hint: #ItAintAboutAHotel 

Candy Chand 955 2027

Steven Mobley's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 261
Post rating: 325

Water Policy

I'm in complete agreement with both Candy and Mr Merchant. No water / sewer services until THEY (Sullivan and Company) provide for and build / expand water treatment facilties. This should be done PRIOR to any actual building. I'm not in favor of paying anything to enhance John's or the PTF's property values. Make them pay their own way. Let's stick to the sound plan and policy we've had these past years. No reason to make special considerations here.   

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745

doing this deal is so wrong!

I am in total agreement with Candy on this.. I don't remember that John did anything for our community and in fact did the opposite. It also sounds to me that people are believing what John is saying about his interest in benefiting our community, however, from what I've known all of my years living in the community is that John mostly does what benefits John..

We all must let the board know how we feel about this before John sells us a load of crap..

Myrna Solomon

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417


I think this could be a  case of not to be trusted. People frequently say one thing and do another. I have to say I finally found common ground with Myrna.

John Hein

Candy Chand's picture
Joined: 08/15/2007
Posts: 304
Post rating: 811

Love the unity

I love the unity on this issue. There should be no cheap fixes for developers--even home grown developers.

My email and voicemail inboxes are full. I've received messages from people who are left and right politically: I've received messages from people considered "pro" developer and "anti" developer.

All seem to get it:. This proposal (which is close to being green-lighted by the board) is detrimental to the community and paves the way for developers to create nonviable projects at the expense of residents.


Candy Chand 955 2027

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745

remember how John sold us a terrible deal

As a  reminder to those who are fairly new to the community, at some point after 1986 when I moved here, John talked the board, at the time, into a terrible deal to sell the sales office to the community that became the association building..he made a huge profit and the community got screwed..

I would like to know what John has promised to some of the board in order to get any of them to think this is good for our community..his history should be a concern for everyone..all of this is ONLY good for John and his group..

Myrna Solomon

Janis Eckard's picture
Joined: 11/18/2008
Posts: 7
Post rating: 42

What is the CSD Board thinking?

Like many Rancho Murieta residents I know John Sullivan and Carol Anderson Ward personally and wish them all the best. In addition, I see the merits of a hotel in our community. However, I'm shocked that members of the CSD Board are considering adding membranes to our current water treatment plant rather than require that Sullivan/Ward design and build a new plant - which was a County map approval requirement for the Murieta Gardens project.

After reviewing the proposal, I contacted a water engineer to see if the idea was viable. Here's the response: "Instead of asking me if the plan can work, you should be questioning why your Board would consider this idea. All water plant components are designed for a maximum output capacity. Obviously, the filtration system is the current weak link, since that's the area the developer needs to improve. Once the membranes are in place a new weak link will be created. It's like driving a Ferrari 165 miles per hour every time you get behind the wheel. Can you do it? Yes -- but why would you?"

The same is true for this proposal. This plan aids the developer, in fact, it aids all the developers, while placing the community at risk of reduced water quality and the potential of inadequate water supply for fire safety. Why should current residents be on the hook to correct future problems created by the developers?

Although Ed Crouse (the CSD General Manager) and I have not always seen eye to eye, in the past, he has always stood strong on the water plant issue. I praise him now for attempting to block this plan. Kudos!

Friendships should never play a roll in government decision making. The Board has a fiduciary obligation to protect the community's water supply. In addition, if the Board goes against Ed Crouse's recommendation, they take on personal liability. Like the water engineer said, why would your Board consider this idea?



Janis Eckard

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

On the water issue, politics do make strange bedfellows

I was first elected to the CSD Board in November, 2006, and have wondered, since that time, why just about no one showed up at our meetings. I was given many reasons, one of which was, "It's because the taxpayers trust the Board to do a good job."

Things seem to have changed on that score and I am glad not only for the thorough coverage provided by rm.com but also for the community's "sleeping giants" to have awakened.

As Candy wrote early on, CSD is in fact a governmental agency and not a good old boys' club where deals get made on the golf course or in the 18th hole. It seems some of the current Directors have forgotten that and at least one only wants to play by his rules.

When John Sullivan made a presentation at the March Board meeting, he prefaced it by saying that Jerry Pasek had asked him to present the "plan" they had been discussing. Jerry did not correct John's assertion, although he appeared to backpedal later on.

Jerry may be the Board president; however, he gets one vote. Period. ONE. The Board has never voted on authorizing ANY presentation by ANY potential engineering firm for a WTP rehab proposal.

So, how have we come to this? I have some thoughts on that but will keep them to myself for now.

If any of the vocal "experts" gives you info about how great John's plan is, ask for facts and then ask who provided those alleged facts. I have asked on many occasions, "Where did you get that number from?," only to be told, "I don't want to tell you." Sadly, what you now have is a dysfunctional group of elected officials who are refusing to play by the rules which govern special districts.

I urge you all to attend the special workshop on April 26 at 2 p.m.

The cat(s) won't be away that day so the larger than the proverbial mice varmints won't have free reign over our most valuable assets while some staff and directors were unavoidably away.

Let's keep it that way. I urge your ongoing participation in this process that is critical to the future of our community. Yes, if we build it, some will come; however, if they want to come, let them put their money where their mouths have been.

Bobbi Belton

Jerry Pasek's picture
Joined: 12/13/2007
Posts: 135
Post rating: 191

Water Plant

Yes,  I encourage interested residents to attend the Friday session (2PM) as well as review the agenda which will be available  on RMCSD.com prior to the meeting.  As usual, there are false facts being tossed around which is typical of open media  and we will try to clarify them at the meeting.

 If anyone thought that developers  “put up their own money” to improve the infrastructure here at RM I would like them to identify where and when.  In every instance I am aware of,  developers passed bond funding efforts (they controlled the votes) that residents then repaid through property tax assessments (ID-1 and CFD-1) and while developers may have initially “loaned funds”, they recovered them  as they do not consider themselves a charity. Since any upgrade to the water plant would also serve existing residents, (plant is 40 years old) current residents will be paying for a portion of the expenses and we are working on how that can be accommodated.

In 2004 (the last time the water plant upgrade was being considered) membranes were the preferred technology.  (Swimming pool filters are typically membranes) This was recently reviewed  (membrane technology has been improved) and is still the preferred approach to provide max quality water. If someone has information that proves otherwise, we would welcome it as we want to do what is “best” for our community.

Should residents wish to speak at the Friday “workshop” it will be limited to the allocated 3 minutes and must be relevant to the agenda topic under discussion. This is a workshop to primarily educate everyone and is not a soapbox for preferred topics.

Jerry Pasek

Janet Nicholson's picture
Joined: 10/28/2007
Posts: 235
Post rating: 380

Will Wonders Never Cease

For once I agree with all of you - well, except one and I'll let you figure out which of the posters that might be.  :)

If we need to upgrade our WTP and we, the community, need to help pay for it, then we can work on that.  But this crazy plan of Sullivan's is hoo-hah.  I can't speak to this as eloquently as those who have posted here before me, and I'm not averse to the idea of the hotel.  But I don't want to pay one penny for anything the community as it sits, doesn't NEED and not to subsidize someone else's development of a hotel and houses that aren't going to help our values or anything else.  There is only one group who will benefit and it isn't the RM community.  And we don't need to pay for Sullivan's development and that's what we're doing if we front the cost of upgrading the water treatment plant for HIS hotel or the exclusive development HE wants to build.  I want HIS money upfront.  I have no love for developers as a whole, but I can already smell the scent of development skunk in this deal.  The members of the new CSD good ol' boys club are happily dabbing the scent behind their ears.

And, like others I don't always agree with Ed Crouse, but his views on this have always been spot on.  Don't back down now Ed.  And, Steve Mobley, wish you were still on the board.  We didn't always agree, but you were always on the up and up.  Sometimes you have to lose something to appreciate what you had.

And when the whole development goes bust and Sullivan's group can't pay back the money we fronted, then what??  Can anyone say Reynen and Bardis?  Does anyone remember the Cease and Desist Order??  Well, folks, we'll be back in the same kind of mess if WE pay for Sullivan's boondoggle.

Candy Chand's picture
Joined: 08/15/2007
Posts: 304
Post rating: 811


It's wonderful to see the community has awakened and is in such unity on this crucial issue. Please pay attention CSD directors.

#Ethics  #DoTheRightThing   #NoSpecialFavorsforDevelopers

Candy Chand

955-2027  PatCan85@hotmail.com

T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Sullivan, developers, Murietans, water and CSD

Mr. Sullivan, you're losing your audience, your fellow Murietans with your laurel & hardy act. You're dealing with an established community of astute residents who are on to your self-serving interests here. The scam water deal with CSD, at ratepayers expense, will be confronted locally, and in your following permitting process at the County. Do you really want to go there, only to meet the same perils as your PTF predecessors/agents Cassano/Kamiloswho failed miserably? If you're serious about responsible development to benefit all, then come clean with transparency with your groups' plans. Founder, RMDCCC.

"Developers outline progress at 'town hall'
(August 1, 2004, RM.com) The Murieta Holdings developers' August "town hall" meeting offered an update on development progress in a five-minute session before one member of the public Thursday night. Developer Gerry N. Kamilos said there has been "considerable progress on a number of fronts." He cited work with the Community Services District on water and sewerage plans and being "within inches" of reaching a development agreement with the Rancho Murieta Association. He also said the county's draft environmental impact report on their projects is nearing completion. The next "town hall" is 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Rancho Murieta Association Building."



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