The Cambrian

Christmas Market, water transfer debated at NCAC

“No event parking” signs lined Burton Drive as part of an agreement between the Cambria Christmas Market and the Coastal Commission, but neighborhood residents remain concerned about the noise and exhaust caused by buses shuttling visitors to and from the event.
“No event parking” signs lined Burton Drive as part of an agreement between the Cambria Christmas Market and the Coastal Commission, but neighborhood residents remain concerned about the noise and exhaust caused by buses shuttling visitors to and from the event. sprovost@thetribunenews.com

The North Coast Advisory Council will recommend a two-year permit for the Cambria Christmas Market and won’t oppose a controversial water meter transfer following votes Wednesday, April 20, at its monthly meeting.

The council also seated recent election winners, appointed environmental and business members, and selected people to lead its standing committees.

The two most contentious issues before the council were recommendations by the Land Use Committee. The first involved a committee vote to recommend approval of a two-year permit for the Cambria Christmas Market, which operates annually during late November and December at Cambria Pines Lodge on Burton Avenue.

Four members of the audience brought up concerns about the traffic associated with the event, during which visitors are bused in from the Coast Union High School parking lot. That arrangement began last year under an agreement with the state Coastal Commission to alleviate parking problems and potential safety issues for pedestrians on Burton Drive.

But residents of the area who spoke at the meeting said the change resulted in 200 charter bus trips a night on residential streets such as Wood Drive, resulting in noise, exhaust fumes and stress to a roadway not designed for heavy traffic. One suggestion: cut the market’s hours from five to three days a week over two weekends instead of four.

When asked whether he’d be willing to do that, lodge owner Dirk Winter said no, but he told the audience he had a plan in place to keep traffic off residential streets such as Wood Drive.

Winter added that he wanted to institute an online ticket-sales system and would like to have a three-year permit under which to do so. He said the first two years would allow users to get used to the online concept, which would become the only method of buying tickets during the third year.

Winter said such an online system would allow the lodge to limit the number of tickets sold — he proposed a cap of 2,800 on the busiest days — and set up more vacation package deals, under which more visitors would be shuttled in from Moonstone Beach and San Simeon lodges rather than the high school parking lot.

The council voted 7-2 with two abstentions to recommend approval of a two-year permit on condition that bus traffic would avoid residential areas and be “arterial only,” and that the number of visitors during the market’s run would not exceed 40,000.

Water transfer

The other controversial issue on the agenda was the Land Use Committee’s 8-2 recommendation to deny the transfer of a minor use permit for a new 3,572-square-foot single-family residence at 930 Drake St.

Mary Webb, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee, said the committee recommended denial in part because no water was ever used at the previous site of the water meter, 367 Ivar St.

If you’re paying for water service, you can move it to another lot if you abandon your previous lot.

Jim Bahringer, CCSD director

“They never used water” at the Ivar Street address, said Webb, who added that only a foundation had been laid at that site. “Water is going to be used where it’s not being used today.”

But Cambria Community Services District Director Jim Bahringer, after delivering a report to the NCAC, said, “It’s not an additional service in any way. They’re abandoning it and moving to another property. If you’re paying for water service, you can move it to another lot if you abandon your previous lot.”

Some members of the council and the audience questioned whether the matter was under the NCAC’s jurisdiction.

“We’re out of our jurisdiction,” council member Shana McCormick said. “We’re out of our bounds. This is a CCSD matter.”

In the end, the council deadlocked 5-5, with Ted Siegler abstaining, on whether to accept the Land Use Committee’s position to recommend denial of the project, which meant the denial motion failed.

They never used water. Water is going to be used where it’s not being used today.

Mary Webb, NCAC member

The council unanimously approved a secondary motion to approve the minor use permit with the stipulations that every effort should be made to avoid an impact on two oaks on the property and that mitigation replacement planting be at a ratio of 6-to-1 for oaks and 4-to-1 for pines.

Board appointments

Also at the meeting, Bruce Fosdike stepped down as council chairman, and the council appointed Siegler in his place. In addition, the council seated the winners of recent elections in Area 2, where Mike McLaughlin was the top vote-getter and John Nixon was the alternate. McLaughlin replaces Heide Santos on the council.

Susan McDonald was seated as the new Area 4 representative and subsequently elected as vice chairwoman; Don Sather is the Area 4 alternate.

McLaughlin’s seat as business representative on the council became vacant at his election, so the council appointed Aaron Linn to that post.

Paul Carlson was appointed to the Area 8 seat after alternate Dixie Walker declined the appointment following Tony Church’s decision to step down.

Three candidates were put forward for the environmental seat held by Mary Webb: Bruce Mumper, a board member for Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve; Greenspace nominee Laurel Stewart; and Webb, who suggested that Stewart take over that seat, with Webb continuing as the alternate.

The council chose Mumper on an 8-1 vote with two abstentions, then selected Stewart as the alternate on a 10-0 vote with one abstention. Stewart, however, declined the appointment, leaving Webb to serve as the alternate instead.

The new committee chairmen are Fosdike (Traffic Committee), Stewart (Land Use Committee) and Carlson (Website Committee).

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