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South Bay Digest

R.H. Estates : Sewer District Sidetracked

October 16, 1986

A higher-than-expected bid from a contractor, combined with proposed assessments that some residents have called exorbitant, has temporarily sidetracked a sewer project on the east side of the city. The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has said that the area, now using septic tanks, has sewage disposal problems and that sewers should be put in for health reasons.

"We want sewers, but this is an economic burden that outweighs the benefit," said resident Richard Burns at a City Council session packed with people from the Harbor Sight neighborhood, where the system is to be built. Another public hearing will be held Nov. 25 after the city conducts a neighborhood poll about how the project should be financed.

A majority of residents in the 71-lot hillside area, which overlooks the Palos Verdes Reservoir, petitioned for sewers nearly two years ago. However, said Burns, that was when the assessment was estimated at $12,000 a home. Now, he said, estimates range from $9,000 to $32,000, depending on square footage of a property, and the average is $19,213. He and other residents said everyone should pay the same regardless of property size "to reflect the benefit to all." The system would be paid for almost entirely by property owners.

The lowest of four bids for the work is just over $1 million--12% above engineers' estimates--and other expenses would push the cost to property owners to $1,431,258, officials said. Project engineer Bill Bennett said the rocky terrain in Harbor Sight is a key factor in the bid amounts. He said advertising for new bids will not lower costs.

More than 50% of the residents have notified the city that they oppose formation of the district, according to City Manager Ray Taylor. The council, however, could approve the district on public health grounds.

The council will not make a decision until after the Nov. 25 hearing and a subsequent hearing on revised assessments, which will be sent to property owners.

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