Cambria open space runneth over

Cambria’s services district shouldn’t take on the ownership and maintenance of any more vacant land for now, according to a citizens committee assigned to determine whether adding more open space makes financial sense.

That’s according to Muril Clift, one of two district board members appointed to act as liaisons between the Cambria Community Services District board and the Lot-Transfer Committee. The group consists of nine community volunteers and two nonvoting representatives from the board, Clift and Mike Thompson.

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo’s most recent proposal was for the district to accept 55 more parcels of land. The conservancy has donated other properties to the district in the past.

The board has hesitated to accept the parcels because of how much it would cost to keep those open-space plots fire-safe and tidy while still protecting the habitat, especially Monterey pines.

Bob Hill, the conservancy’s executive director, told The Tribune that annual maintenance costs could range from $1,000 to $10,000 a year.

Clift said the panel decided unanimously that it wasn’t prudent to take on new lots because of the ongoing cost of maintaining the current land under district control.

The financial concern was in part due to the economy, but also because “the amount offered by the (Land Conservancy) for maintenance of the lots was not sufficient to maintain the lots,” Clift said of the $30,000 proposal.

The final decision rests with the district board.

Hill said the nonprofit would continue to hold, protect and maintain the lots in hopes the district would take them in the future.

However, the delayed or denied transfer means that, “at least for the time being, we have to make sure we have the resources to maintain our stewardship of the properties. We won’t be out there buying lots as quickly or as often as we have in the past.”