Hearst demands payments from San Simeon CSD

October 21, 2020

The green portion of the facility sets on the Hearst Ranch property


The San Simeon Community Services District Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to approve an agreement with the owners of the Hearst Ranch, which allows the district’s water treatment plant to remain temporarily on the ranch.

In 2016, San Simeon officials began construction of a new water treatment plant even though they had been warned they were constructing a portion of the facility on the Hearst Ranch. Then earlier this year, Hearst Holdings conducted a survey and determined 560 square feet of the district’s reverse osmosis facility is located on the Hearst Ranch Conservation Easement, according to the Aug. 18 surveyor’s summary.

Hearst Holdings sent a temporary Revocable Encroachment License Agreement to the district board that allows the building to remain in the current location. The agreement requires the district to pay nearly $30,000 for survey and legal expenses along with with an annual $5,000 charge as long as the building is located on the ranch.

Hearst retains the right to terminate the license “at any time and for any reason,” according to the agreement.

The board approved the terms of the agreement and will need another encroachment agreement prior to placing two large water tanks they are also planning to store on the Hearst Ranch.

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On one hand, they did, literally, steal Hearst land and should be punished.

On the other hand, Hearst has a golden opportunity to make giant points with San Simeon, Cambria,SLO County, and the state, by fully recognizing the architectural error (though, a really stupid and obvious one), and graciously donate the encroached land to San Simeon. It’s not like they rolled bulldozers over Zebra’s and Buffalo. I always try to give the benefit of the doubt, so I will PRESUME the “experts” who drew up the plan really really didn’t know they were on private property, until just now. Some of the old, and new, maps of property lines could have been confusing. Hearst Ranch has grown and shrunk numerous times over the last 100+ years, and there is the real chance the CSD used a map that showed the line was in San Simeon.

I know, I know, I’m a dreamer. The CSD should have checked the property lines 10 or 20 times to be sure, since the Hearst Corp would certainly sue the crap out of them for violating their property rights. But……yeah. Now the good people of San Simeon and the county will have to pay that much more for water, and the CSD will not be harmed in any way for it.

Personally, I hope the town and county will sue the CSD for multiple violations of agreements.

This what happens when you have a small, very political CSD controlled by very few people such as San Simeon, California Valley, and even Oceano. CSD’s were sold as “local control”, they have become local corruption and incompetence. All these things need to be run by the the County Dept. of Public Works at far lesser cost and fewer patronage jobs and corrupt contracting kickbacks, the Wallace Group being the poster-child for this corruption.

They got caught, but is the District still the big winner? A letter and $30,000 in fees is still a darn good deal vs maybe $150,000 to $200,000 to buy the vacant lot that was (and still is) sitting right adjacent to the Hearst Ranch conservation easement property they encroached upon. They had the time and money to buy the lot but…

Or, not so fast. As an earlier opinion piece pointed out, is the District still sitting in violation of $900,000 in State and Federal grants. The grants require ownership of the land or an easement. I do not think a “ temporary revocable anytime” encroachment permit is going to cut it.

What would a mortgage company or bank do if they found out you build your home or addition without title to the property? Ouch.

But then again these are State and Federal grants and they do not require a title search or title documents. They take the District at their word. In the end, I guess that leaves us taxpayers and rate payers covering it – all expenses paid.

On the other hand, maybe, this is not over.

“Calm down everybody, it’s not real dollars, it’s Tax dollars… we can always get more.”

Actually Hearst is being very nice about this!

Hearst smacks down San Simeon CSD:

“Hearst would never have allowed such encroachment, and we are shocked the SSCSD constructed the building without a boundary survey.”

Read Hearst letter here: