The Cambrian

SLO County staff recommends 5-year permit for Cambria Christmas Market

Visitors take in the light tunnel, one of the highlights of the annual Cambria Christmas Market.
Visitors take in the light tunnel, one of the highlights of the annual Cambria Christmas Market. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission will review on Thursday, July 14, a five-year, temporary-event permit that would allow the Cambria Pines Lodge to operate its annual four-week Christmas Market.

The event would be centered on lodge grounds at 2905 Burton Drive, with related activities and displays at the adjacent Cambria Nursery and Florist, 2801 Eton Road.

Planning staff is recommending approval subject to a variety of conditions.

According to market officials, the festival of seasonal displays and concession booths, highlighted with nearly 1 million temporary LED lights, is to be open from 5 to 9 p.m. on selected days from the Friday after Thanksgiving through the Friday before Christmas. This year’s event would be the market’s fifth holiday season. Markets after 2020 would require a new permit.

The staff report prepared by the county planning department calls for the main market to be located in the center of the 23-acre lodge property.

The project application includes a pedestrian and traffic safety plan, offsite parking and shuttle plan, and a lighting plan “to help ensure public safety and minimize impacts on neighboring homes.” Lighting would be mostly in the eastern portion of the property, located farther from homes in that area of Lodge Hill.

Among conditions attached to the recommended approval of the permit are restricting shuttle bus routes to Burton Drive, Patterson Place, Main Street and Highway 1, and having buses turn around on lodge property.

Some site-access improvement plans were required for Burton and Yorkshire drives.

A maximum of 3,000 people could attend the market on any given night. All construction, grading and site disturbance must be temporary. There would be a maximum of 26 temporary booths for vendors. The booths could not be larger than 8 feet by 10 feet by 9 feet tall, and they’d have to be removed within 30 days after the market ended.

Temporary lighting would be allowed on no more than every other tree in the display area, and those lights would have to be only on the trunk and lowest branches.

In previous years, the market’s single-year permits were issued by the California Coastal Commission, which had taken jurisdiction over the event in part because the rare, protected Monterey pine forest area surrounding the lodge is deemed “environmentally sensitive habitat area,” as is nearly all of Cambria. Last year, the commission agreed to turn jurisdiction back to the county, as long as the project continues to meet the requirements placed on it.

For details on the market, go to www.cambriachristmasmarket.com. For more about the upcoming Planning Commission hearing, go to http://tinyurl.com/gktf8ah.

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