Straw man argument
After 30 years of living in Cambria, I’ve seen this town divided before — but never between those who are for water and those who are against it.
In case you’re wondering who could be against water, the obvious answer is no one. And no one is. A new group of Cambrians who clearly label themselves as being pro water are using this straw man argument to make a point that comes off sounding rather silly.
There were many letters to the Cambrian “for” water today, and they suggest we back our CCSD board without question. One even suggested that we imagine life without water, as if this would make us see the error of our water-hating ways. This is about as useful as responding to my criticism that you drove to work at 90 mph while shaving by calling me anti-job. It’s just pointless and unhelpful.
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Here are some questions for those who suggest we support the CCSD board, since water is something we can’t live without: Why don’t we have the portable desal unit that they said they’d provide by July 1st? Why do we have an article in The Cambrian saying our water might not last the year, then going on to explain how the threat is exacerbated by the tracer test, which is keeping us from using San Simeon Creek wells?
What if we run out before they’re done?
Why didn’t they get the portable desal unit first and then work out what we’d do next time we found ourselves in this bind?
I suggest that those of you who are “for” water consider being “for” those who manage it more responsibly.
Catherine Ryan Hyde
It's about growth
The letter from Gary and Charlotte Reddish states that the “fear of uncontrolled growth is unfounded” and growth control can be addressed and debated separately from the recent board decisions regarding the controversial water project under construction. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The current Cambria Community Services District board is laser focused on growth for Cambria — new houses and buildings mean more revenue for the CCSD from water meter hook-ups. This current board adopted resolution 09-2013 approving the issuance of intent to serve letters in March of last year. The fact that there are more than 660 lots on the water wait list was not lost on them at all — especially those board members who own such lots! The CCSD board then immediately took Cambria to a Stage 3 water crisis — skipping Stages 1 and 2 entirely — and imposing draconian rules on the ratepayers.
If I wanted to live in forested community with clogged streets and over-building, I would have moved to Carmel. They paved paradise and will never get it back.
No Kippers for me, please!
Retired Supervisor Bianchi’s Viewpoint (“Red herrings about dead fish”) crystallizes one of two major shortcomings of the Cambria water wars. The first, as she so eloquently pointed out, is that opponents to the CCSD’s efforts to implement a drought-protection plan have thrown up spurious claims “to create fear/and or confusion.”
A major argument against efforts to solve the water issue is that such a solution would allow for growth. This is perhaps the biggest whopper of all, since the CCSD is in the water business, not the growth-management business. Furthermore, the constraints imposed by the county’s Growth Management Ordinance, the Coastal Commission, the limited number of lots on the CCSD’s Wait List, county design standards and Cambria’s existing pattern of development mean that the town will not be overrun with McMansions and drive-throughs.
The second shortcoming is the “us versus them” aspect of the debate. The utter lack of courtesy and decorum at public meetings by so many opponents is disturbing. Impugning the motives of volunteer public officials, berating staff and intimidating the public are corrosive. Valid criticism has a legitimate place, but creating an atmosphere of negativity is not in our town’s long-term interest. Neither is dividing the town into various groups: full-time residents, vacation homeowners, rental owners, business owners, lot owners, etc. We all have a stake in this community and deserve a seat at the table.
Water needed now
We have owned a home in Cambia since 1989 and moved from Texas to Cambria permanently in 2003. There were several reasons for the move: Cambria’s cool weather, the scenic views, pines with the ocean, the small-town atmosphere. However, to sustain this atmosphere requires an adequate and dependable supply of potable water. The Village we love could not exist without it.
The CCSD board has taken the initiative to propose an emergency solution during this latest drought. Long-term solutions will be required for the future, but this emergency solution needs to be completed now.
We support the CCSD Board in its actions. We further support the re-election of Mike Thompson and Jim Bahringer to the board to allow them to continue their efforts to solve this very critical problem. There have been some false statements and/or exaggerations made by a group that opposes the CCSD plans, even some very uncivil /rude remarks made to the CCSD board that are not productive in solving this community’s issue.
The CCSD’s published data indicate the increased cost of water for a Cambria family will be very cheap insurance to ensure adequate and dependable potable water supply during drought periods such as we are experiencing. We will, no doubt, experience droughts in the future. It is estimated our family’s increased water bill will be $25 per billing cycle when the EWS is operating and $19 when the EWS is nonoperational.
Wes & Doris Ann Densmore
Don't get fooled
To paraphrase from The Who: “Don’t Get Fooled Again” by CCSD.
Aug. 22, 2013, CCSD approved 20 new water intent-to-serve letters.
Sept. 9, 2013, CCSD placed question of “how many intent to serve letters” to issue on “hiatus.”
Sept.15, 2013, the San Simeon well reached all-time low.
Sept. 20, 2013, CCSD decreed a complete ban on outdoor watering and implemented harsh surcharges on existing water users.
Sept. 26, 2013, CCSD considered intent-to-serve letters.
Oct. 2013, March 2014, CCSD lost 275,000 gallons of Cambria’s water through infrastructure failure.
July 2014, CCSD lost approximately 500,000 gallons of Cambria’s water through infrastructure failure.
April-July 2014, CCSD gave away unlimited water to anyone who could haul. CCSD promised an “emergency” water treatment by July 1, 2014, for $1.5 million.
CCSD’s cost of the “emergency” water treatment now: $9 to $13.4 million.
CCSD failed to maintain infrastructure, but spent for CCSD’s lobbyists and consultants to spin CCSD’s positions.
Cambrians conserved water aggressively. CCSD claimed conservation would provide water for existing users and generate “points” for new water permits. Cambrians performed. CCSD did not.
CCSD used bait-and-switch tactics. The “emergency” facility exceeds current users’ needs. That’s why it’s taking longer and costing more. Want to trust CCSD? Get a commitment: CCSD (per the permit application) will allocate water only to users with existing water meters. Don’t get fooled again.
Concerning the CCSD and the water project under construction, how does a situation that has been brewing for years suddenly become an “emergency” as if it had erupted out of nowhere a few months ago? Whatever one might think of the project, how can anyone avoid wondering about the directors’ competence as well as their intentions?
As an “emergency” this project is being moved forward regardless of a host of legal and regulatory hurdles which must be dealt with before it can be considered permanent. And rather than funding it through conventional means, the directors had to chase off to Arizona for a loan and make great concessions carrying risks and constraints for every member of this community and undoubtedly at a higher rate of interest than would have been the case with a more deliberate and farsighted approach.
When a “community service” board has lost the trust and confidence of such a large portion of the community around an issue as crucial as responsible water sourcing, it is clearly doing something wrong. Almost as deep as our thirst for water, we thirst for leadership at all levels of government that demonstrates trustworthiness and no matter what else, the existing board has failed to satisfy that need and each of us must pay the price for their negligence.
Over the past few months, a very small but vocal minority of Cambrians who are opposed to the CCSD board’s decision to build a brackish water desalination plant have waged a sometimes disingenuous campaign to deter or delay the wishes of the clear majority of the ratepayers to move ahead with this criticalproject.
Two members of the opposition, running for the CCSD board, are putting their time and reputations where their mouths have been. This election will subject them to the same public scrutiny of every meeting, every comment and every decision to be made. I predict that they will quickly come to realize the complexity of the situation and the fact that this board has, indeed, fairly considered all of the facts, proposals and opinions and has decided on the best course of action. These candidates will soon learn that their criticisms alleging hidden agendas, self-interest, and even criminality on the part of the board have been unfounded and unfair.
At this critical point in Cambria’s water history, I do not think we have the luxury of electing candidates who have heretofore shown such a lack of evenhanded and logical judgment.
This is no time for strident amateurs. Let us leave the “learning curve” for them to another time. Re-elect Director Thompson and Director Bahringer for another term, allowing them to finish the project they have so courageously dedicated themselves to accomplishing for the welfare of all Cambrians.
We’ve been part time Cambrians since 1986 and are so pleased to finally see that positive actions are underway to provide a sustainable water supply for our community.
For over 30 years, a vocal minority was effective in their effort to attack, obfuscate and stymie reasonable water solutions. And, when a reasonable solution seemed to be moving forward, they were able to bring in new CCSD boardmembers who would again block the reasonable water solution.
In this time of extreme water emergency, it is surprising to see that the vocal minority continues to offer their old blocking tactics of costs, unproven technologies, environmental impacts, ill defined “better” alternatives, “scare” stories and more.
Some years ago, this minority was able to block a desalination solution, a broadly used, proven, environmentally neutral water supply solution which, for Cambria, was to be free of building costs.
During today’s water emergency, let’s not forget just how effective this minority once was with their blocking tactics. Now is the time for full and part time Cambrians to be absolutely supportive of the CCSD water plans.
Bill & Jean Thompson