San Simeon on notice, stop encroaching on your neighbors

December 12, 2021


Local property owners continue to spar with San Simeon Community Services District officials over the district’s encroachment on neighboring properties, with one property owner recently serving the district with a cease and desist order.

Working to have drinkable water during dry spells, in 2015 the district constructed a water purification facility. In a rush to build the plant, district officials ignored reports they were building the facility on Hearst Conservation land.

In addition, both the district’s office and the water purification facility are partially built in the Pico Avenue right-of-way. The district compensated for their error by installing gravel on a vacant lot owned by Ron Hurlbert, without his permission, to allow vehicles room to turn around.

“This letter is to put the San Simeon Community Services District on notice,” Hurlbert writes. “The district has constructed its office and Reverse Osmosis Unit in the Pico Avenue right-of-way and has installed gravel on my private property. As a result, my property is now being used for vehicle parking and turnaround traffic. In doing so, the San Simeon CSD has reduced the value of my real property.”

In May of this year, Hurlbert asked district General Manager Charles Grace to install a post and chain barrier along his property line to prevent vehicle parking and turnaround uses. To date, no mitigation or apology has occurred.

Both the district and Hurlbert’s properties are zoned multi-family. Hurlbert, who has owned his lot for more than 35 years, had planned to build condominiums on his lot, though the construction of a water plant across the street is likely to diminish the value of the planned multi-family units.

In his letter, Hurlbert demands the district remove or relocate the district office and reverse osmosis facility buildings from the Pico Avenue right-of-way.

“The highest and best use of my property lies in its zoning for multi-family,” Hurlbert writes in his letter. “It is my desire to build condominiums. Proper ingress and egress will be required on Pico Avenue for any development.”

San Simeon CSD directors voted unanimously in Oct. 2020 to approve an agreement regarding the encroachment with the owners of the Hearst Ranch, which allows a portion of the district’s water treatment plant to remain temporarily on the ranch, and to pay Hearst for a survey and legal work. A few months earlier, the survey determined the district built 560 square feet of its water facility on the Hearst Ranch.

However, in early April, attorney Roy Ogden, who claimed to be working for an anonymous source, said a title search he conducted proves the water purification facility does not encroach on Hearst land. The claim embraced by district staff until a second survey verified the encroachment.

Because of the encroachment, the county recently rescinded a $500,000 grant to the district for water supply tanks because the district had failed to resolve its easement issues.


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It is one of the most pathetic situations I have ever seen. A completely dysfunctional board has made significant ethical and financial mistakes, many of which are also illegal. With no current Board member having been formally elected by ratepayers, the Board has clearly not served the best interests of the community.

Jorge Estrada

Reads like a strong claim moving in the direction of an adverse possession judgment?


And through all of this where was the district’s legal council? and why werent they looking out for the ratepayers? and why arent they fired by now?


So other than three miserable months that I lived in Los Osos, in my life I have never lived outside of an incorporated city. So I am ignorant as to how a “CSD” operates, but apparently, the San Simeon CSD was basically operating as a fiefdom of the Charles Grace Company until they screwed up. What I am trying to say is, I have seen state Governors and other elected officials face recalls and far greater outrages for lesser crimes. Does no one vote in San Simeon? Is it just a bunch of absentee landlords with a few big local landowners that care? How does this continue on and the only people really concerned is CCN? Whoever pays the taxes in this “CSD” are facing some big losses, and I don’t exactly get who’s going to pick up the tab. Other than maybe the city of SLO, could I picture this level of incompetence/corruption occurring without a torch-bearing lynch mob having already been formed.


The aerial photo does not depict how vast the encroachments are. Feel free to Google Earth 111 Pico Ave., San Simeon.

The RO facility is a 2,000 sq. ft. building, of which, at least 560 sq. ft. is on the coveted Hearst Conservation Easement, another 276 sq. ft. of is in the road (nearly half of the building is on other people’s property). When they built the RO unit, they lost their parking, the gravel encroaching on Hurlbert’s property is likely an unintended consequence — unintended or not, the district is responsible and should make nice. He asked for a fence, and didn’t get one.

It is unknown (to me) when the tiny district office was built (they recently invest $30,000 in improvements and a pricey security camera system into it); 238 sq. ft. of it is also in the road.

If the district had been required to go through a Minor Use Permit/Coastal Development Permit process, neighbors within 300 feet would have been notified of the project(s). Hearst, Hurlbert and possibly other neighbors, would have caught that the building(s) would encroach BEFORE being built and the county would have required these buildings to be 20-25 set back from the road.

The urgency to build the RO unit with grant money and governmental courtesy given by the county staff enabled this screw up. But, the fault lies with the district’s GM, Engineer and Environmental consultant — all HAD to know the project was beyond the district’s property lines.

To ignore the neighbor appears to be the M. O. of the General Manager, making a mess of relations in all cases. Lost grants, lawsuits, threats of litigation … when will the board have enough of this guy?