The multi-year feud between San Benito County and its County Service Areas (CSAs) appears to be heading toward resolution. At the Aug. 6 Board of Supervisors meeting, management analyst Lauren Hull presented an update on the active CSAs. The board also held a public hearing on fee and tax assessment for county service areas for fiscal year 2019-20.
San Benito County collects fees from 32 CSAs to provide to the CSAs with landscape and road maintenance, sewage management and street lighting.
According to the county website, this mechanism is used to ensure these areas are properly maintained, which the county could not afford to do otherwise through traditional funds like property taxes and sales tax.
Hull’s presentation focused on recent work in several CSAs, including cleaning the well casing and removal of debris at CSA 3 Stonegate, replacing a defective backwash valve on a filter tank at CSA 50 Dunneville, and looking at irrigation issues at CSA 46 Quail Hollow and CSA 47 Oak Creek. She also shared a list of projects the county is looking into, such as reactivating fees at CSA 25 Vineyard Estates and the annexation of CSA 24 Santa Ana Acres.
In the past, members of various CSAs, including Richard Ferreira from CSA 35 Union Heights, have criticized county government for not providing maintenance services despite having the funds available. BenitoLink was contacted by local CSAs in 2017 about a lack of service and has spent several years reporting on this topic.
At the Aug. 6 meeting, Ferreira said that while he was optimistic and pleased about working with new Resource Management Agency Director Harry Mavrogenes and county staff, he had yet to see an acceptable service for weed abatement.
“I know you guys are backed up,” Ferreira said. “Weeds aren’t going to be growing now until it starts raining again, but I want to make it apparent that we’re unsatisfied to date with that part.”
Ferreira added that when he brought up this issue to the county, Public Works Superintendent Jason Derosa’s comments in response were “unacceptable.” Although he spoke to Mavrogenes about the situation, Ferreira said it was also important for the Board of Supervisors to know as well.
In 2018, Ferreira, who was the developer of the Union Heights subdivision and involved in drafting the agreement between that CSA and the county, threatened to sue the county for not providing services per the agreement.
After Ferreira spoke, Supervisor Anthony Botelho said weed abatement in county service areas is still a problem and asked residents for patience as it will take time to get it right. He also said this is the best position that the county has been in since he has been a supervisor.
“I hope that all the CSAs see that we’re absolutely committed to improving services and relations and accountability and we’re making very, very positive steps.”
Edit: fixed spelling of Lauren Hull’s name.
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