Environmentalists appeal Cambria affordable housing project

January 31, 2019

Two environmentalists have appealed a decision by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission to approve a proposed affordable housing apartment complex in Cambria on the grounds that there is not enough water for the project. [Tribune]

The nonprofit People’s Self-Help Housing plans on creating the Cambria Pines Apartments, which would provide highly-sought affordable housing in the North Coast community. Cambria reportedly has a more than a 100-person waiting list for affordable housing units.

Project plans call for the Cambria Pines Apartments to consist of 33 units spread across eight buildings at a site near the community’s middle school and the Schoolhouse Lane apartment complex. Cambria has been under a moratorium on new water connections since 2001, though there is an exemption for affordable housing.

Mary Webb and Christine Heinrichs filed an appeal disputing the county planning commission’s ruling that there is enough water for the project. Webb and Heinrichs also argue in their appeal that the project does not conform to the county’s local coastal plan.

The project is subject to a Cambria Community Services District rule prohibiting a new development from creating a net increase in water demand. In order to comply with the rule, People’s Self-Help Housing purchased retrofit points in lieu of actually retrofitting appliances in the neighboring apartment complex to compensate for the water used in and around the newer units.

Heinrich argues the proposal amounts to a “paper water creation,” which misleads the planning commission and the board of supervisors about the project’s actual water demand. The appellant argues that adding 33 residential units will not actually reduce water use.

Cambria’s CSD has a water supply plant, though it only has county and Coastal Commission approval to operate the facility during water-shortage emergencies.

The county board of supervisors will rule on the apartment project appeal at a hearing expected to take place in April or May. Prior to the filing of the appeal, construction on the Cambria Pines Apartments was expected to begin in 2021.

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A house with a moderate income secondary Accessory Dwelling Unit (allowable by state law), would seem to qualify for water service as well. Just think, buy a $15,000 “unbuildable” lot or request to add one to your existing home. Seek county approval for a “50% affordable 2 unit project” and coordinate a water will serve by changing out some neighbors toilets and faucets to achieve no net water demand. You can get $2,060 monthly rent for a 700 ft 2 bed. No quantifiable or objective rational to deny and wouldn’t cost the tax payers a cent to produce affordable housing. The $15,000 lot with building rights would be easily worth 10 to 20 times paid. Just think how much the people self help property increased in value by making it buildable with water rights. If developers can do it subsidizing themselves and any for profit investors with tax dollars, working men should be treated equally. Property tax? Don’t worry, affordable units are subsidized on that too.

I have a rule concerning “government officials” response to the water shortage: Until they have the guts to disapprove new, water guzzling projects, their cry’s to save water, their rules and ordinances all their public pleas to “please save water!” …. are, and MUST BE, insincere, purposely misleading and fake. Otherwise, obviously NO new developments could possibly be approved. You can’t claim there’s not enough water and then approve a new project that will need significant additional water.

It’s Cambria !!!

They’ll never be able to do a water project unless there’s a emergency, affordable housing can help create the needed emergency!!!

Can’t have poor people running out of water:)

A classic SNAFU. 2001 not enough water because of a drought and a moratorium was created and hundreds of people are on waiting list. Now because of the buzz word “affordable” another miracle has occurred within the political arena. Puff, they have fabricated enough water on paper and by calculations only, to justify their decision. The bottom line is they either have enough water or they don’t? Thankfully they have shown us thru all of their studies that there is NOT enough water.And I’m sure we will probably see another one. But within there infinite wisdom they will more than likely approve this and the kicker will be the enormous amount of landscape that will be required for approval. This will turn out to be like the school they constructed years ago that also had enough water until it was finished and then required water to be trucked in. You have to love just watching these fools but then it does bring a tear to your eye and a hole in your pocket book when it’s all over.