Lies? No. Errors and ommissions? Yes.

April 18, 2014 

I do not believe that lies have been told or that there is corruption running rife with either the Cambria Community Services District board or the staff or that a recall is warranted. Come the next election, Cambrians should decide who should take our town forward. I do believe that everybody involved with the CCSD are well-intentioned and, with their particular views, are doing their very best to tackle the situation.

This is where the positive statements end. The mistakes started a long time ago when board members decided that desal was the only solution to our water situation, at the cost of ignoring all other alternatives. The question is why? We were a community of 6,000 and certainly could not afford desal unless we received money from government sources.

To sustain the system and repair our aging infrastructure, it was envisioned that we would then be able to have growth, and this seems to have been sought after by past and current CCSD directors. There was one positive, as it was correctly determined that there would be NO growth without an additional water supply.

When the old guard was removed at the CCSD, our new general manager discovered how far we had fallen into the hole and begun the expensive process of tackling our failing infrastructure. The question was, how were we going to pay for this? The only immediate answer that was grasped was growth.

So the fact that we had no additional water source and we were no closer to getting one was very conveniently ignored. With only the hope that it would rain, unbelievably steps were taken to pave the way to lift the moratorium and release a number of intent-to-serve letters and thereby generate growth and some additional income. To make this palatable to the public, much effort was made by the CCSD to explain that with increased conservation, growth was indeed possible with no impact on our water resources!

That a large number of Cambria residents and businesses had already taken steps to reduce their water usage was seemingly not considered, as well as the fact that nearly a third of the homes in Cambria do not have permanent residents. All seem to have lost sight of the primary safeguard for the community: the need to obtain an additional water supply before taking ANY action.

It is increasingly stated that we are all in this together. Then to muddy the water we now have a third category, property owners of vacation rentals. Whether they should be assessed as a business or a residence is another thorny question for directors. To correctly analyze the situation, it is necessary to present all with comprehensive facts on water use.

Whether it is equitable for businesses to have an 20 percent reduction as opposed to what some believe is a 33 percent for residents, the relevance of these percentages can only be looked at when a starting point is established and some consideration given to what may have already been achieved. I certainly understand that many of our restaurants are impacted by the new formula and the seasonality aspect of their businesses has to be considered.

However, at the same time the huge impact of growth and profit many businesses have experienced year on year, mainly as a result of increased tourism, should be factored in. I believe this is impossible to quantify, so where does this leave us?

Simply put, to promote unity we need facts, straight talk, cooperation and a modicum of understanding. It certainly would help if the businesses, especially the restaurateurs, hoteliers, contractors and Realtors present themselves regularly at CCSD meetings.

At the last CCSD meeting by a 3-2 vote, a 10th extension of an intent-to-serve letter was given to a group of private investors, or should I say speculators, who have no involvement with our small community and the rationale for this decision only leads to more doubt and to the integrity of our directors given the current circumstance we face and the pressing need to unify.

It would be a start if the CCSD directors individually declared that they have made mistakes, expressed clearly their views on growth, will not issue any intent to serve letters before we get a permanent alternative water supply (I do not mean the portable reverse-osmosis/desalination system), and that they will continue to take input from all residents and businesses with no bias. Then, and only then, can we move forward as a community and any rate increase, which I believe is sorely needed, will hopefully not be rejected out of hand and maybe even gain support.

Cambria resident Tony Church volunteers his time as a Cambria Community Bus driver. To volunteer, call 927-1147. To reserve a ride, call 927-4173.

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