Cambrian: Opinion

Cambrian Letters to the Editor, Oct. 30, 2014

Costly legal action

Here we are, close to a remedy to our water problem, and a minority of outspoken Cambrians has decided that it is in the best interest of our town to make the CCSD spend more time and money jumping through hoops, rather than getting behind it in its heroic effort to solve an extremely serious problem. 

I sincerely hope that when the CCSD prevails in this lawsuit, the plaintiffs will be forced to pay the increased costs CCSD realizes by defending itself from this lawsuit, rather than having the costs passed on to residents, most of whom are behind the CCSD.

Clive Mettrick


Supports Bahringer

As far as I know, Jim Bahringer’s first major impact on Cambria was to resurrect the beautiful farmhouse that is now Fog’s End. Jim put a lot of effort into that property, and now he’s put years of that kind of energy into our town, seeking to protect what we have and provide water for dry times. The drought opened a door to get something done with the blessing of our governor. Jim and the other CCSD board members have seized the moment, getting a good project going. In my 34 years in Cambria, many good water ideas have been proposed only to be stopped by those who fear we will grow too much. Jim knows that is not a realistic fear and that we need water for those of us here now.

My belief is that Jim has no agenda other than getting us in Cambria a backup water source. He also knows that there is grant money out there. Remember that we will only grow by another 

660 or so homes, some 15 percent, ever. In Cambria we cut our water use by some 40 percent two years ago and by an additional 44 percent this year. Let’s support the people who have gotten us on the road to water and encourage their efforts to get this funding.

Please vote for Jim Bahringer, incumbent candidate for CCSD board.

Bruce and Jayne Koontz


Familiar tactics

A recent ad in The Cambrian made accusations regarding Rick Hawley, claiming he was involved in the move to recall CCSD board members. 

This statement is an absolute falsehood! Other deceptive comments also questioned actions taken by Mr. Hawley in the past, reflecting on his character and his commitment to the welfare of Cambria.

Sadly, these exact same tactics were used to question my honesty and integrity when I ran for the board in 2010. These mean-spirited efforts most likely affected my candidacy and my desire to serve the town I love and have been blessed to call home for 28 years.

No matter who each of us choose to support in the upcoming CCSD election, all citizens of Cambria should be deeply concerned regarding the unethical manner in which certain factions are attempting to determine the outcome of this election.

With the fiscal challenges facing ratepayers regarding the recently implemented water project, as well as the cost of long overdue repairs to the aging and ailing infrastructure, we should all seriously reflect on the economic future of our CCSD, and the town of Cambria itself.  

I encourage every Cambria voter to deeply reflect on the importance of this election. The future of our community, the very way of life in our very special town we call home, will be determined by who is sworn into office at our services district in December of this year.

Harry Farmer


On misinformation

I do not normally write letters to the editor. But after listening to some of the comments that have been said about the Emergency Water supply project (EWS), I have to correct some misinformation. 

First piece of misinformation: It’s a toilet-to-tap system. This is an uninformed statement, as any water that is run through a reverse-osmosis process produces water that is second only to distilled water in purity. In fact, the water from the EWS is pumped upstream and injected into the ground, where it will spend 60 days flowing back down to our fresh-water wells. This is a state requirement. 

Second piece of misinformation: The EWS produces toxic substances. The brine (a byproduct of the reverse-osmosis process) is almost entirely made up of naturally occurring salts plus a small amount of chemicals that are added to clean, sanitize the water and adjust the PH. 

These chemicals are diluted into harmless concentrations similar to chemicals used safely in swimming pools. As a last comment, in February 2014, there was an article in Greenspace that extolled a plant in Orange County, “as an innovative and desirable way to solve Cambria’s water problem.” 

The EWS utilizes the same three-step filtration process as the Orange County facility.

James Battles


Sounds like a railroad

As a Cambria homeowner and future resident, I have been following the water issues for 

25 years. I thought that the only “railroad” in town was at the Pinedorado grounds. Apparently not.

Kingston Bay (KB) withdrew its appeal to the California Coastal Commission for its 41-bed facility. CCC staff recommended denial due to water supply and biological concerns. KB has a CCSD intent to serve letter. Jeffrey King, the Fresno developer, will resubmit his application after resolving water supply issues with the CCSD. 

At the CCSD candidate forum, incumbents Jim Bahringer and Michael Thompson, and write-ins Steve Kniffen and Jeff Walters endorsed the concept of using the water-reclamation plant more often, and using the additional water for people on the wait list. Rick Hawley and Jeff Hellman do not. Citizens have been misled. The original proposal was for emergencies and current customers. Continued operation will maintain water rates at the highest levels the CCSD approved. Further rate increases are not denied. 

Who would get the additional water? Lot owners? Not likely. KB has nearly 12 EDUs. Furthermore, there are other properties in town with multiple/ linked EDUs available for projects. Developers will make their money on the backs of the citizens of Cambria. At the least, new users who will benefit should pay higher rates.  Residents will be pressured to conserve even more.  Sounds like a railroad to me.

Marvin Josephson

Huntington Beach 

For Hellman, Hawley

• All six Board of Director candidates for the two director vacancies fully support the completion and operation of the Emergency Water System (EWS).

• The three remaining term directors represent a board majority that will ensure the completion of the EWS independent of the election outcome

• C4H2O, a recently formed, vocal minority of 650 to 700 members out of the approximately 3,936 registered Cambria voters have improperly characterized Rick Hawley and Jeff Hellman as obstructionists who are against the completion of the EWS project.

• CCSD boards since 2000 have persisted in attempting to bring forward a desalination-based supplemental water supply project that could be approved by the regulatory agencies.

• An ironic benefit of the drought-caused Level 3 emergency was the ability of the CCSD to secure an emergency permit to construct the long-sought-after Brackish Water Desalination System at San Simeon, i.e., the EWS.

• The future permanent permitting of the EWS project will not be a result of the many pro and con speakers at CCSD Board meetings. The permanent permitting will only be based on the EWS project’s compliance with the many required state and federal agencies stringent regulations.

• Vote for the much-needed experienced financial oversight of Jeff Hellman and the protective care of our pristine environment with a recognized environmentalist, Rick Hawley.

Allan and Theresa MacKinnon


Real estate threat

Amid arguments over Cambria’s water future, a major threat of inaction has received scant attention: absent an immediate new source of water, it is likely many Cambria homes will be acquired by real estate speculators — a change that would irretrievably alter our community’s character.   

Why would this occur?   

Without a stable new water source, rates for water delivery and firefighting protection will materially increase. Fire insurance prices will soar, or insurance will be unavailable. Rising costs of home ownership will force many Cambrians into distressed home sales, diminishing home values. If fire insurance becomes unavailable, home prices will fall further, faster. For Cambrians without the resources to weather a long downturn, or those on fixed incomes, the effect could prove devastating.  

Meanwhile, given Cambria’s attractive location, investors would happily purchase homes at fractions of their prior value, confident they will amass the political power to force a large-scale water delivery solution and reap handsome returns on their bargain-priced investments.

We can retain the unique Cambria we love by continuing on the path of augmenting our water supply now. Your vote is important. Use it to make a positive choice for Cambria. Please join us in supporting Jim Bahringer and Mike Thompson for re-election as CCSD directors.   

Don and Kathy Hutchison


Costly legal action

I would like to respond to Dennis Ortenburger’s letter to the editor published in the Oct. 23 edition of The Cambrian.

 I am a senior partner in a national law firm. Some years ago, the firm represented a company that builds and operates desalination plants, among other businesses. I was never involved in representation of that company in any manner whatsoever. I have no control over the process by which the firm accepts engagements. The company my law firm represented is not the company retained by the present CCSD to design and construct the supplemental water project, nor are the two companies affiliated in any way.

I included my home telephone number (927-4765) with the ad that I purchased. I was disappointed that Mr. Ortenburger chose to ask his question of me through a letter to the editor. Had he called me, I would have gladly given him my answer. In retrospect, however, I’m pleased that he raised his question in a public way. Rather than hear the rumors and innuendo that the candidates Mr. Ortenburger supports like to spread, the residents of Cambria can read my response and call me if they have any further questions.

Greg Sanders


Thanks, Greg Sanders

Thank you, Greg Sanders, for your letter in The Cambrian of Oct. 16. While my mind had already been made up, as far as I am concerned, your letter sealed the deal. By the way, as of this month, I will have lived in Cambria 17 years. I am enjoying it very much and hope to be for many more years.

John Steinbroner


Why pay to spin?

I’ve been a Cambria resident for 23 years, a CCSD ratepayer, and am a supporter of CCSD director candidates Rick Hawley and Jeff Hellman.

I resent my CCSD fees being used to pay CCSD spinmeister Tom Gray to attend and privately consult with the partisan political organization called “Cambrians for Water.” The meetings were not open to the public (certain individuals were specifically not admitted or asked to leave).   

These liaisons violate the Brown Act in spirit, if not in fact. Does CCSD-funded Gray, himself a former CCSD director candidate, work in concert with “Cambrians for Water”? Does he advise them and promote their agenda to the disadvantage of those who question current CCSD actions and are excluded from such meetings?  

A publicly funded political consultant working behind closed doors with partisan political groups does not bode well for open, transparent government, or for democracy.

Donald Archer


Fiscal responsibility

We are voting for Jeff Hellman and Rick Hawley because we are concerned about how the current CCSD board has been expending funds from Cambrian ratepayers. There are many families, including working-class and families with fixed incomes, who are struggling to make ends meet in our community. The loan that was approved by the current board will negatively impact Cambria financially for years!

The CCSD also approved to pay Public Information Officer Tom Gray out of the Emergency Water Supply Project budget. Invoices reflect that as of Oct.1, the PIO’s charges had already climbed from the original $10,000 allocation to $15,825. The PIO appears to be acting as an apologist for the incumbents and, during an election season, these charges could be viewed as paid support. Gray charged hundreds of dollars for communicating with individuals involved in planning a meeting at the Veterans Hall, at which CCSD board members and an engineer for the EWS addressed select members of the community while excluding others. Gray also charged CCSD ratepayers (including those who were excluded) hundreds for attending the meeting.

Jeff Hellman and Rick Hawley both want water through thoughtful planning that is fiscally and legally responsible and inclusive of all our community! We are all for water! But, let’s do it the right way!

Greg and Margie Sesser 


Backs incumbents

It has been 14 years since the chronic water shortage in Cambria resulted in the declaration of a building moratorium. Why hasn’t an additional water source been built? Here’s the reason.

Apparently, there is a group of people in Cambria who are determined to control all growth in our town.  They have achieved this with a very simple strategy: Any water plan to emerge from a CCSD board is attacked, and new candidates to the CCSD board quickly elected to stop it if it passes.    

There are two huge problems with the actions of this group. One, the growth in our community should only be decided by the entire community. The second problem has been felt by all of us Cambrians.  Our water shortages and rationing would not have happened if all water plans had not been blocked.  

This coming CCSD election is a critical one. There will be hearings with various water agencies and the Coastal Commission. Our current CCSD board is committed to seeing this project through to the end.  Will the two challengers to the board have the same commitment?

It is critical that we return the two incumbents, Jim Bahringer and Michael Thompson to the board.  It is time that we finally build a long-term solution to our water shortage.

Steve Dowding


Don’t give in to fear

It is so interesting how all these crisis facing us today, Middle East, Ukraine, Ebola, Hong Kong, and numerous assorted others worldwide, and of course the severe drought in our state, and spreading worldwide, walk in the door at the same time, challenging us. 

I am old enough to remember World War II and the evil personified by Hitler and the Nazis. Needless to say, that was terrifying to an 11-year-old boy.

I also remember Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president at the time, saying, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” With Roosevelt being a politician, that was undoubtedly hyperbole, but true nevertheless. Peace.

Bob McLaughlin

San Simeon