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July 20, 2005

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Publication Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Green light for sewers in Los Trancos Woods Green light for sewers in Los Trancos Woods (July 20, 2005)

** Construction could start this year.

By Marion Softky

Almanac Staff Writer

By some time next year, residents of 60 homes in Los Trancos Woods should be able to wash and flush freely without worrying about leaks or leach fields.

By July 12, all 60 of the lot owners who had petitioned to form an assessment district had signed up to pay $68,000 each to bring sewers to the small-lot community south of Portola Valley.

"It's been a long time in coming, seven long years," said Mark Levaggi, a leader in the community-wide drive to bring sewers down Los Trancos Road past Blue Oaks to serve the former summer home community. "Everyone who said they were going to, signed on the dotted line."

On July 13 the assessment district was formed in Sacramento by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority.

The $3.7 million price for the Los Trancos sewers is being pooled with other community projects for a bond issue of about $10 million total, said John Knox of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, the law firm handling the transactions.

The bonds should be sold by the end of this month, and the local money transferred to the West Bay Sanitary District, which will build the sewers.

Construction could start this year if the funds come through promptly, said Tim Clayton, general manager of the sanitary district. It will take several months to put the project out to bid, and then rains may affect the schedule.

"We expect to start within six to nine months; we expect to finish within one year," he said.

The 60 lots that signed up for sewers are scattered among the 136 lots in lower Los Trancos Woods that annexed to the district. They are located here and there on Los Trancos Road, Ramona Road, Carmel Way, Los Trancos Circle, Foxwood and Lake Road.

Once the sewers are installed, other lot owners will be able to apply, Mr. Clayton said. Their connection fee will contribute to the cost of installing the sewers.

Four of the lot owners applying for the sewers have paid their $68,000 in cash up front, Mr. Knox said. The rest will pay on their property tax bills.

Although interest rates are not yet known, Mr. Knox expects each lot owner will pay about $5,000 a year over 30 years. They are allowed to pre-pay, subject to a penalty.

Sewers will have other impacts for residents. Some will be able to expand or add a bathroom without having to think about the septic tank or health department.

"For many of us with substandard septic tanks, it was tough to sell a house -- and it wasn't too great to live with it," said Mr. Levaggi.

Linda Drey-Nightingale, a neighborhood leader, welcomes sewers because of their environmental benefit. They keep not just the pollutants but waste water out of the land and out of the stream, she said.

Ms. Drey-Nightingale wonders what impact the effluent flowing into septic tanks over 70 years has had on the plants growing in Los Trancos Woods. "It will be interesting to slowly see what's happening to the vegetation," she said.

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