The Cambrian

Viewpoint: Lot owners want homes, not profits, and will pay for desalination

What do you call a political group that says “no” to everything, exploits people's irrational fears as a way to enlist them in its efforts to obstruct progress, and makes up disparaging names to attempt to discredit its opposition? I call it the Cambria no-growth movement. The latest example is the “Land speculators” letter from Al Abney in the Feb. 25 Cambrian about Cambria lot owners .

Land speculators have a bad rap because they are seen as reaping huge profits from the business of spoiling the land. That is not who Cambria’s lot owners are, and I resent the allegation. In reality, Cambria’s lot owners are families trying to build homes to live in, just like those of you who already enjoy homes in Cambria.

If this was just a business proposition, then anyone with any business sense would have walked away long ago (and they have). There is just too much aggravation and the wait for the payoff is too great. As an example, I received an e-mail this week from one of our Cambria lot owners that tells a fairly typical story. Following is an excerpt:

“Our world is certainly a different place from that time when I was a boy on the ranch west of Selma. When we assembled our now estate-sized lot from three smaller lots, I was 53 years old. That was 1989. We are both now 74 years of age. We are too old now to follow through on what were once lofty dreams. …

“I understand the opposition to encroachment on farm lands for development. When I was a boy it was 15 miles from Fresno to Clovis and now those towns are one.…But this is so different than the Cambria properties that were brought into existence in 1927 and upon which taxes have been paid for now a whopping 83 years.”

According to county records, the lot owner in No. 1 position on the Cambria Community Services District water wait list has owned their lot since at least 1964. Several hundred current owners purchased their lots prior to formation of the CCSD wait list, at a time when anyone who wanted a water meter could just walk in and get one.

My wife and I bought our lot at a time when there was a valid permit and plan in place to build a desalination plant which would have solved the water shortage and avoided a moratorium. It was due to a local political power shift that the plans were scuttled. So yes, we were informed of the facts when we bought our lot, and the voters of Cambria subsequently changed the rules. So our recourse would be with the voters of Cambria, not the real estate agent, as Mr. Abney seems to suggest.

We are not looking for anyone to feel sorry for us. We have already offered to pay for the whole cost of the desalination plant, and we would be generous enough to let the rest of you connect to it. We are just asking that you respect our rights as much as you want your rights respected.

We are asking that if CCSD has adequately addressed the issues in its plan to drill test wells, that the project move forward to the next step, not be held up on trumped-up negligible matters.

The water supply problem in Cambria is not legal, technological, financial or even environmental, it’s purely political. The politics are such that a small but vocal opposition group shows up at all the CCSD meetings, makes a lot of noise, harasses district staff and board, and generally holds things up, even though the will of the voters expressed repeatedly and strongly is that the project should go forward.

This small group is circumventing your will and costing you a lot of money. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 25. If you are one of the many local voters who supports the desalination project and believes that there have been enough studies, please consider attending the hearing and expressing your views. Your elected district representatives need your support.

Deryl Robinson is president of United Lot Owners of Cambria.