The Cambrian

CCSD to talk about GM’s performance at March 23 meeting

Cambria Veterans Memorial Building will be the site of two Cambria Community Services District board meetings March 23.
Cambria Veterans Memorial Building will be the site of two Cambria Community Services District board meetings March 23. Cambrian file photo

When Cambria services district directors hold two meetings Thursday, March 23, they’ll discuss a plan to mitigate hazards from natural disasters, review the performance of their general manager and consider allowing a new owner of a Park Hill property to rent the home and a secondary unit, even though the property’s deed includes a covenant and agreement that only the owners may occupy the primary and secondary units.

First, the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors will meet in closed session at 2 p.m. at the district offices, 1316 Tamsen Drive, Suite 201. The district posted that meeting agenda at midday Tuesday, March 21, separately from the regular monthly meeting’s agenda, which had been posted the previous Friday.

In the closed session, the directors are to continue negotiating with the county about possible purchase of the former Cambria library building and property. The board also will begin evaluating the performance of General Manager Jerry Gruber.

The latter discussion could be heated, as some directors (and some members of the public who spoke in recent open sessions and posted on social media) have been critical of how Gruber oversaw timely filing of reports with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, required reports that were chronically late, according to the water board.

Some also are critical of the CSD’s delay in informing the state agency about recent flooding that affected the Sustainable Water Facility’s brine pond or “impoundment” on San Simeon Creek Road. Another issue is some angry outbursts Gruber made during the board’s January meeting, for which he has since publicly apologized.

Water board officials expressed their own concerns in February, when the agency sent a stinging letter and slapped the CSD with three notices of violation about those same issues. The notices could carry fines of up to $600,000, but as of Tuesday, according to Jon Rokke, water resources control engineer, the water board enforcement staff hadn’t yet determined if those fines would be imposed.

Rokke said in an email interview that day that the district is up to date on filing its reports, with the next set — including the substantial 2016 annual report — due April 15.


The CSD’s regular March meeting begins at 4 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

Adopting the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan could put the CSD in line for federal funds to mitigate certain hazardous conditions, especially those that could make natural-disaster situations worse.

Some stakeholders in the plan-drafting process are pushing for quick adoption, because before the plan can be put in place, it also must be approved by state and federal emergency agencies.

However, other people, including some officials of the Cambria Community Healthcare District, are hoping for a short delay to give them time to persuade the plan’s preparers to include more information about that agency, which provides ambulance and other services to the North Coast.

Among those who want to add more details about CCHD included is Bob Putney, who knows quite a bit about hazardous conditions, being Cambria’s former fire chief and current health care district board President.

He said Tuesday that he, CCHD Administrator Bob Sayers and Jason Melendy (the district’s operations director) sent last month an 11-page letter to plan preparers Bob Neumann and Sheri Eibschutz. The letter included more than 30 suggested changes or additions to the plan. Most of those suggestions do not include mention of the health care district, and some of them were included in the version of the plan that the CSD directors will consider.

One major concern for CCHD is the status of the agency’s ambulance and clinic facilities, which Putney thinks should be included in the plan as a potential hazard. Because of a landslide in January behind the CCHD ambulance station, operations there have been temporarily relocated away from that site.

Covenant change

The CSD directors also will consider changing the covenant and agreement for 481 Plymouth St., so that prospective owners John and Becky Newton of Lemoore can rent the home, rather than live in it themselves.

According to Gruber’s staff report, while taking that action “appears to be consistent with the original intent that the addition not create an additional separate dwelling unit” that could be rented to someone other than the occupant of the main house, the manager acknowledged that “as a practical matter, staff does have a concern that it will be difficult for the district to monitor and enforce” an amended covenant/agreement that would allow the home/secondary unit to be occupied by someone other than the Newtons.

For details on these and other items on the March 23 agendas, go to


District staff and board members also are pushing the consultant to complete the Sustainable Water Facility’s Environmental Impact Report, a crucial part of the CSD’s application for a permanent permit for the plant.

Gruber said Tuesday that he hopes the report’s administrative draft, including answers to questions and comments posed by individuals, groups and agencies when the draft report was released last summer, will be complete by late April.