The City of Livermore recently directed staff to move forward with work needed to obtain a sewer line extension south on Livermore Avenue, and along Tesla Road through Wine Country.
While no motion or vote was required at the time, the city council provided authority and direction to staff during its Sept. 28 meeting to coordinate with the county to secure funding. Should funding be found, it will go toward a feasibility study and potentially implement wastewater treatment improvements to the South Livermore Valley.
The state’s recent regulations prohibiting additional septic treatments in rural areas due to concerns about groundwater contamination prevent new wineries from coming in or existing wineries from expanding services. Stakeholders in the area have requested the extension in what they say will ensure the future economic vitality of the winery and hospitality industries.
The decision comes on the heels of a letter from Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association (LVWA), the Tri-Valley Conservancy (TVC), Friends of Open Space and Vineyards, Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce (LVCC), Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group, and Visit Tri-Valley. In the letter, the group asked for help from the city to make the sewer extension a reality. The letter was signed by Chris Chandler of LVWA, Laura Mercier of TVC, Dawn Argula of LVCC, Tamara Reuss of the Friends, Lynn Wallace Naylor of Innovation Tri-Valley, and Tracy Farhad of Visit Tri-Valley.
Andy Ross, senior planner and project manager for the item, presented the staff report and recommendation to the council, which included: submitting a letter to Supervisor Scott Haggerty, requesting the county reserve funding for possible future sanitary sewer improvements; preparing a draft agreement with the county outlining terms, timing obligations and funding; and exploring actions necessary to advance the extension of the sewer system to serve the South Livermore Valley Area.
Ross reported that South Livermore comprises approximately 14,000 acres — regulated by the city's general plan and the city’s South Livermore Valley Specific Plan. The unincorporated regions are regulated by the county’s South Livermore Valley Area Plan.
“All three ... have a common goal of protecting and promoting the South Livermore Valley as a premier wine region,” Ross said.
He presented a map, detailing the municipal boundary and Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).
“Both of these boundaries limit the city’s ability to provide services beyond them unless certain conditions can be met,” he said, noting the municipal boundary can be moved through a city process, but the UGB can only be moved with a vote by Livermore residents.
Ross stated that a feasibility study of the city’s wastewater treatment plants’ capacity, capital costs and maintenance obligations for sewer improvements would be needed, as well as one that addressed other public improvements, including underground utilities. There would also be an investigation to ensure consistency with the city’s general plan, UGB and out-of-area-service policies.
“(Sewer extension) is going to be very important; this is going to be about creating a mechanism to complete the South Livermore Valley Area Plan,” Mayor John Marchand said. “The plan envisioned additional wineries in this area … but because septic tanks are no longer allowed, there is no provision for accommodating people at these locations.”
Councilmembers Robert Carling and Bob Coomber agreed that it was important to move forward with working with the county. Vice Mayor Bob Woerner pointed out that the residents will ultimately decide if they want to receive what he called a gift from the county.
“We’re not obligating anything. We’re creating the option,” Woerner said. “The groups concerned about urban sprawl were satisfied once the right conditions were met to assure that it wasn’t going to lead to a major housing development.”
Ross stated that any agreement/work program would come back to the council for consideration.
Prior to adjourning, Marchand dedicated that night’s city council meeting to the late Walter Davies resident, artist, and chair of the Livermore Commission for the Arts.
“We lost a longtime friend and artist,” Marchand said.