The Cambrian

Water board issues ‘cease and desist’ order on Centrally Grown

Signs outside the closed Centrally Grown complex tell visitors to “keep off” and that they are being monitored on camera.
Signs outside the closed Centrally Grown complex tell visitors to “keep off” and that they are being monitored on camera.

In April, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board served a tentative “cease and desist” order on Centrally Grown Inc. (a Delaware corporation), along with Centrally Grown Holdings, LLC, and the man listed in the paperwork as CEO, agent and operator of the Cambria restaurant complex, Dave Robertson.

The board’s order centered on reported problems with Centrally Grown’s onsite, domestic wastewater collection, treatment and effluent disposal system, at 7432 Exotic Gardens Drive.

The agency will hold a hearing on the order Friday, July 29, at the agency’s San Luis Obispo offices, 895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101. The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m.

The facility has been effectively closed since January, although some special events may have been held there in 2016.

The water board order lists 26 allegations and statements about the case, plus lists of tasks to be completed before and after the wastewater treatment operations resume.

Among the allegations in the order is that in December 2014, “before the restaurant was fully open,” and on four different occasions in 2015, water board staff “observed ponded effluent in or around the disposal field, causing staff to conclude” that the system “was either not being properly operated and maintained, or that the disposal field was improperly installed.”

Water board staff says Centrally Grown continued “to operate its wastewater treatment and disposal system even though treated effluent is not properly contained within that system.”

The corporation and its operator failed to file some required quarterly, monthly and other reports, according to board staff.

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Centrally Grown’s attorney, Benjamin Reznik of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP in Los Angeles, wrote in a July 12 reply to an email The Cambrian sent to Robertson that the facility’s “leach field in question requires some minor work which will be completed shortly. Since the business is currently closed and the public has no access, there is no issue with the leach field.”

The water board issued a statement via email Wednesday in response to a request for The Cambrian, regarding the cease and desist order.

“Centrally Grown has been out of compliance with their monitoring and reporting program for years, and when they were operating their wastewater system, it didn’t operate correctly and created unacceptable conditions on the property,” the statement said. “There are a number of elements to the system that need correction, which are laid out in the order. It’s more complicated than simply repairing the leach field. The CDO is a second chance to come into compliance with the requirements of operating the system, and we are hopeful that Centrally Grown will be able to do so in a reasonable time and safely operate their facility. It appears they are taking some beginning steps towards that, so we are cautiously optimistic.”

He also said about Centrally Grown’s future, “Our client is very excited with the level of interest from prominent groups in the country interested in bringing their expertise and investment to continue to build on the original vision for Centrally Grown. We hope to conclude a deal very soon at which time we will announce the name and brand. Our client is confident that this infusion of capital, expertise and branding will make Cambria Centrally Grown a huge success.”