Environmental group sues Cambria CSD over water project

October 21, 2014

cambriaBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

A San Luis Obispo County environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the Cambria Community Services District, alleging that the district has breached state law in rushing through its approximately $9 million emergency water supply project.

The district is currently building a water treatment plant and supply system that will transform a mix of fresh water, seawater, creek underflow and wastewater into potable water for residents. CSD officials have not yet obtained all the necessary permission for the project, but they are currently operating under an emergency coastal development permit from the county.

LandWatch San Luis Obispo, the organization suing the CSD, is contesting whether a water emergency actually exists in Cambria. LandWatch alleges that the district violated the California Environmental Quality Act by skipping necessary steps of approval for the project.

“The district has improperly attempted to construct a permanent desalination plant intended for long-term operation under the guise of a temporary emergency facility in order to avoid having to analyze the effects of the project on the environment as required by CEQA,” the lawsuit states.

LandWatch claims district numbers indicate that groundwater levels are currently about average for the time of year, and that the CSD is playing on residents’ concerns about the state drought and water shortages.

Following the filing of the lawsuit, the district fired back with a news release saying that LandWatch has a history of bringing frivolous litigation against the CSD.

“The lawsuit has the temerity to question whether there is in fact an emergency,” the CSD release says. “This is a preposterous position given the undeniable reality of the water crisis Cambria is facing.”

The district’s release went on to say that the water emergency in Cambria has been recognized by every level of government in the permitting process ranging from the county to the governor’s office.

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35 Comments

  1. Myself says:

    Here we go again,another mindless piss ant enviromental wanna be group is going to waste taxpayer dollars against a CSD for trying to provide water for the residents in their town,what a joke.

    (-1) 27 Total Votes - 13 up - 14 down
    • Francesca Bolognini says:

      Aooarently it is easy to use childish insults when you are not identifying yourself. Not very ethical or responsible. In this case not at all informed either. The Fish and Wildlife Service, and California Coastal Commission are not wanna be groups . The Stanford Law School, who have filed the suit on behalf of LandWatch are also somewhat well known. And they are all willing to identify themselves when they make a statement.

      It saddens me that an opportunity for an intelligently conducted forum such as this is so often dominated by people with nothing better to do than spout uninformed rants and immature vitriol. How will government by the people survive if that is the best we can do?

      (3) 19 Total Votes - 11 up - 8 down
      • Pelican1 says:

        Forewarned is forearmed. How many members of USFWS and the CCC live in Cambria? Cambria’s decision to move forward IS an example of GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE.

        (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
      • Myself says:

        Say Baloney what do you think that the citizens of Cambria are going to do for water if someone doesn’t get off their butts and do something,I am so sick and tired of every envermental organization,group,fish and gameless running our lives and now some little unknown group wants to make a name for itself by suing the Cambria CSD,I don’t think so.

        (-3) 9 Total Votes - 3 up - 6 down
        • adustum says:

          Myself, how many lots do you have to develop?

          (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
          • Myself says:

            Not a one of them,but these people have not been aboe to build for 30 years because of a small bunch of jerks that won’t allow Cambria to get other water,the only reason for this is to stop building,each and every person that gets up[ to speak against Cambria building a desal plant or tying into another water source should be sued by each and every property owner that owns a lot,pays taxes and cannot build.

            (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
            • adustum says:

              Myself, calling people “jerks” doesn’t help in building bridges. Your frustration may be justifiable but you have to admit, the town is becoming further divided and unless cooler minds prevail, the only thing for sure is that the attorneys will get richer. And, it is the attorneys who are profiting from this situation, no doubt about it.

              (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
              • Myself says:

                What would you like them to be called,thats all I could come up with that was printable,Cambria was just fine a s afarming and cattle town till the gronola bunch started to move in then its gone down hill.

                (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
    • hijinks says:

      Or, maybe they will save taxpayer dollars by showing the desal plant isn’t needed. Oh, I forgot, you own an empty lot.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
    • adustum says:

      Stanford University Law Clinic is not a “piss ant environmental wanna be group”.

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  2. Pelican1 says:

    Well, this is what Cambria gets for being creative and taking the initiative to save their community from a similar plight many other communities are suffering from.
    Just remember…NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!
    They deserve the right to self determination…period.

    (2) 20 Total Votes - 11 up - 9 down
  3. Jorge Estrada says:

    If LandWatch San Luis Obispo has a claim against the Cambria CSD for their action to mitigate a water shortage, where is their bright light on San Luis Obispo for draining North County water by use of an antiquated permit?

    (13) 27 Total Votes - 20 up - 7 down
  4. falconbh says:

    We need a “time out ” from all these Automatic Water Rate Increases and New Tax Increases.

    (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
    • unlisted says:

      Yes, and we all need to quit using water in the meantime, right?

      (-8) 20 Total Votes - 6 up - 14 down
      • adustum says:

        No, but in Cambria’s situation, the Cambria, CCD needs to stop issuing water permits for new homes to be built when they cannot deliver water to existing residents.

        (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
        • unlisted says:

          First, I thought they already put a moratorium on new water hookups.

          Then, should they refund the taxes they collected from the property owners who are denied water hookups?

          (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
          • adustum says:

            No, the Cambria Community Service District released water hookups and then imposed limited water usage on residents and higher water rates.

            They refuse to withdraw the released hookups although they contend the community is almost out of water.

            Follow the money and water permits and you will understand what is really happening in Cambria.

            (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
  5. adustum says:

    The CCSD has the same attorney as the City of Arroyo Grande.

    (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down
  6. wineguyjc says:

    You could see this train wreck coming. Absolutely self inflicted by the CSD. I hope the CSD gets hammered for this, but unfortunately the rate payers will pay for the utter incompetence the CSD has exhibited.

    (11) 25 Total Votes - 18 up - 7 down
    • reason says:

      The CSD is customer owned. If you hope the CSD gets hammered, you want the CSD customers hammered. Where do you think the money comes from to pay PG&E for the electricity to pump the water, and pay the employees to fix broken water lines?

      It’s not always a faceless someone else’s fault. Any incompetence is with the voters (customers) who elect the directors. Did you ever run for office in Cambria, or do you just sit in the back row and heckle?

      (-5) 21 Total Votes - 8 up - 13 down
      • adustum says:

        reason, the current Cambria CSD Board is owned and paid for by outside special interests from Orange County, Las Vegas and San Diego. Oh, and the Hearst Corporation. Special interest individuals (e.g., attorneys) have moved into the community to represent their clients. Follow the money and you will find the puppet masters.

        (6) 16 Total Votes - 11 up - 5 down
        • reason says:

          I don’t know how to take your reply. If it is to be taken literally, you are accusing the Board of bribery. They could track down your ISP, sue you, and likely win.

          If you actually think people who are not CSD customers really own any part of the assets of a CSD, you need to read the CSD law.

          Or you could be writing this from a bar, and that would explain the bombast.

          (-1) 15 Total Votes - 7 up - 8 down
          • adustum says:

            They are public officials, and as a citizen, I have a First Amendment right to express an opinion. It is unclear what you mean by others owning the assets of the CSD or that they are being accused of “bribery”. You used that word. You apparently are trying to convolute the discussion.

            Of course, you could be writing from a bar, or sitting in your living room in Leimert.

            (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
          • Francesca Bolognini says:

            It would seem, from reading the documents filed against the project, by official comments by the Fish and Wildlife Service, and by their very actions to circumvent public awareness of the actual project, its costs and environmental consequences,, that an investigation, or possibly several should be made into the connections between the current CCSD members and the above mentioned special interest groups. The provinance of the loan, with its hair trigger (3 DAY) default of our infrastructure, is certainly worthy of a second look by a qualified agency. This whole project has had NO third party oversight of any aspect of its conception or developement and no transparency whatsoever to the public it is purported to serve. Cambria is just too precious a prize to be left to the machinations of back room politics.

            If the individuals currently serving on the board and/or any others involved with the project are found culpable, it will be they, not the rate payers who will suffer the consequences. Of coarse, if we allow them to continue unchallenged, then it will most certainly be ourselves and the environment and wildlife of our area that pay the price.

            (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
            • adustum says:

              Francesca, they are attempting to intimidate and marginalize the character of individuals who bring up reasonable issues. These are tactics uses to hide issues. Taking a loan with high interest rates from a hedge fund, making facts available at the last minutes to the public and other questionable actions are only a few of the facts that need to be looked at by a third party.

              The CCSD Board Members need to be individually held responsible for their actions.

              (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        A community services district is not “customer owned.” It is a State agency and, when it comes down to it, it is only in rare circumstances that the rate-payers (those who get their water from the CSD) can achieve a vote to overrule what the CSD Board of Directors wants to do.

        (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
        • wineguyjc says:

          MaryMalone,

          Thanks.

          Reason, wake up and realize that the comment was about the fact that the Board has taken action to bring this lawsuit on. And yes, I realize the customers will pay as noted in my post. Maybe, rather than a knee-jerk reaction you should read the post clearly, comprehend what is being said and then and only if you understand the post respond with your response that misses the mark.

          When the rate payers pay more, maybe they will wake up and fire the incompetent staff at the CSD.

          (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
        • adustum says:

          Thank you Mary.

          (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  7. MaryMalone says:

    Historically, more water equals more development.

    This will be the fate of Nipomo. Do you want the same for Cambria?

    (0) 22 Total Votes - 11 up - 11 down
  8. LameCommenter says:

    This is probably just another do-gooder mindless enviro whacko lawsuit against progress in infrastructure. How much are the legal bills going to be for this mess?

    My motto: make more water. Build more plants. Publicly encourage (not legislate) conservation yes, but MAKE MORE WATER.

    (-4) 24 Total Votes - 10 up - 14 down
    • Francesca Bolognini says:

      So you consider Stanford Law School to be mindless whackos? Perhaps one should read the document and perhaps know how ill advised, missrepresented to the public and other levels of government and punishingly expensive the project is, before shooting off about the character and intentions of those who protect you from yourself and an obviously mindless rection.

      If you are in favor of no constraints on what is developed then it would make more sense for you to inhabit a place where no one cares. I, for one, am not in favor of being manipulated by government or the media, using fear mongering and false claims to force through a project that could bankrupt our district and lead to the privatization of our infrastructure and the loss of our nature preserve (there is a 3 DAY default clause in the loan document that would forfeit our assets to the lenders). Especially when they (the CCSD) have rejected countless projects that were not only environmentally friendly and in some cases enhancing, but significantly less expensive.

      It is disingenuous to simply label us all as “no growthers” or “whackos” or people who don’t want water, when we have been promoting alternative water sources to the Board for several decades, to no avail. The only conclusion I can derive from this is that they would prefer us to be in this extremely precarious financial position, as it coold lead to the loss of control of our water infrastructure to further developement for private gain at the expense of current customers and our excellent, world class environment.

      (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
      • Citizen says:

        I couldn’t find the web site for LandWatch San Luis Obispo or a copy of your lawsuit. Any help?

        (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
        • hijinks says:

          Did you go to the courthouse? That’s where lawsuits are filed.

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • adustum says:

        The Cambria CSD Board members and their puppet masters’ have been labeling locals who are trying to protect the community as extremist. While in reality, the Cambria CSD Board members and special interest groups are the extremist who will say and do anything to allow out of town interests to overdevelop the coastal area, even serve fecal water to babies.

        Be very cautious of these people-they will say and do anything for money.

        (1) 15 Total Votes - 8 up - 7 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          When CSD and their developer supporters start tagging residents with terms like “extremist,” then you know they are desperate to achieve their goal and afraid their rate-payers will unite against them.

          (5) 17 Total Votes - 11 up - 6 down

Comments are closed.