Domineering Crestview president Sol Chooljian continues to lead a passive board, putting shareholders last–Part 3.

The Crestview board delayed for four years lowering the pump in Well #4 just so they could say we needed Well #7 because Well #4 was “going dry.”  That cost us about $365,000 extra in 2021 to buy imported water that Well #4 would have pumped with a lower pump.

Because of declining groundwater levels and other risks associated with Well #4, the board decided in 2012 that we should have a replacement well to supply Reservoir 3 in the upper zone.  However, nothing was done until the purchase of 191 Alviso in October 2015 (which was after Well #4 had broken suction in the fall of 2014), and its pump was lowered 40 feet in February 2015.

The water level continued to drop, and in April 2018 the general manager reported that Well #4 might not last the whole season.  In October 2018, Crestview presented the Well #7 project to neighbors and discovered big obstacles to getting a permit. In January 2019, the GM advised the board that Well #4 water levels were still falling and that Well #7 was “delayed for an unknown period of time” (but at least two years).  He predicted that Well #4 would have to be taken offline in the summer of 2019.  He offered eight options including a $250,000 project to restore Well #4 to partial production, but the board rejected all options, and nothing was done in 2018 or 2019.

Crestview borrowed $1,500,000 in April 2019 to pay for Well #7, and filed a permit application May 15, 2019.  The Planning Commission denied the application on June 25, 2020.  Our board knew then the odds were high it would lose the appeal to the Board of Supervisors, but they did nothing about Well #4 in 2020 or 2021, even as they watched its productivity continue to decline.

The 2019 permit application says Crestview intended to put Well #7 into rotation with Well #4 and Well #6, meaning Crestview knew Well #4 would require some investment soon. Every time the board decided to take no action on Well #4, it knew a replacement well was at least two years away.  So why did it not start the work until four years after the need was known?  It wasn’t about the money–the pump lowering project now underway will pay for itself in only six months by buying less imported water.  The most plausible explanation is that Crestview was arguing to shareholders, and to County officials, that we desperately needed Well #7 because Well #4 was “going dry.”  When it did “go dry” one month before the September 14, 2021 appeal hearing, they amped up that argument. Coincidence?

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