UPDATE:The Morro Bay City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a contested a $148,944 annual assessment for landscaping and lighting maintenance in the Cloisters’ subdivision.
ORIGINAL STORY: Nine homeowners in the Cloisters neighborhood in Morro Bay are protesting their $1,241.20 annual fee for landscaping and lighting maintenance within the subdivision.
The common theme among the protests is that the assessment, which pays not only for lights and landscaping within the north Morro Bay neighborhood but also for maintenance of the public park located within the Cloisters’ common-use area.
Michael Baird sums up the bulk of the protests when he wrote to the city June 4: “The time has come to require general city funds cover the maintenance of this public facility which benefits all visitors, not just nearby property owners, to which no substantive ‘special benefit‘ has ever been identified.”
A staff report refutes the assertion that “no substantive ‘special benefit‘ has ever been identified.”
A 2004 lawsuit dealing with just that issue was filed by three Cloisters’ residents against the city. The court found that “in order to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Cloisters project, and to provide a greater than public benefit as required in a Planned Development overlay zone, the conditions of approval for the Cloisters project required the applicant form a 100 percent special benefit assessment district for the maintenance of the public park, bicycle pathway, right of way landscaping, coastal accessways, Environmentally Sensitive Habitat” and a host of other amenities, according to the staff report.
The court found that other special benefits for Cloisters’ residents included: “Improved aesthetic appeal of nearby parcels; improved dust control; enhanced adaptation of the urban environment within the natural environment; improved erosion resistance; improved drainage and flood control; enhanced crime deterrence and enhanced aid to police protection; increased nighttime safety on roads and highways; improved visibility for pedestrians and motorists; improved ingress and egress to property; reduced vandalism and other criminal acts and damage to improvements or property; improved traffic circulation and reduced nighttime accidents and special enhancement to property value resulting from the above benefits.”
If approved by the Morro Bay City Council, the collective assessment will raise $148,944 in the coming year.
The City Council was slated to address the issue Tuesday at the third public protest hearing dealing with the assessment. A resolution crafted by Joseph M. Woods, Recreation and Parks director, recommended the city keep the assessment in place.