Cambria Community Service District

Cambria Community
Services District

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you're thinking of purchasing property in Cambria, please read the following Frequently Asked Questions carefully:

What's the water situation in Cambria?

Cambria’s entire water supply comes from wells located on two creeks, San Simeon Creek to the North of town, and Santa Rosa Creek, which runs through Cambria.
  • The District owns three wells on San Simeon Creek from which the majority of the town’s water is drawn. It also owns three wells in the Santa Rosa Creek basin: two permanent wells that are currently unused due to threat of MtBE contamination, and one temporary well leased from the High School.
  • Since rainfall in Cambria is strictly seasonal, and no rain generally falls from May through October, water storage is a critical issue.
  • The District is permitted by the State to withdraw a specific amount of water from the creeks. This is contingent upon maintaining wetland habitats in the creek for certain endangered species

What is the Water Master Plan?

  • In 2008, the CCSD completed a Water Master Plan (WMP) to determine Cambria’s water needs for the future. It includes the eventual “buildout” size of the community and the corresponding water, sewer, and fire protection needs of that size community.  Desalination was determined to be the best long-term, stable water source for Cambria.  The CCSD is currently working through permitting and funding issues. 
  • On July 24, 2003, the CCSD Board unanimously voted to confirm the use of desalination as a long-term water supply project with the capacity of serving a maximum of 4,650 water connections. This number includes the current CCSD water users plus those on the water wait list. 

Why is there a waiting list for permits?

  • There has been a long-standing water shortage, and because the County has imposed a “growth management” ordinance that limits annual issuance of building permits.
  • The CCSD will not issue water commitments beyond those for which the County will process building permits.This ensures there is not a backlog of customers unable to build. The "County" wait list is NOT for water and does not constitute a water commitment by the CCSD.
  • If a real estate agent tells you a property has a waiting list position, be sure to confirm that it is a CCSD Water List position, and not a County Building Permit waiting list position. You must have the Assessors Parcel Number (APN) to access waiting list positions.

What does a waiting list position mean?

  • It entitles you to a new hookup for water and sewer service when your position number is eligible for issuance, and upon your completion of all Intent to Serve letter requirements. 

When can my project get water service?

  • For the 10 years prior to the November 2001, between 27 and 65 single-family projects received water service per year, depending upon whether San Luis County allowed a growth rate of 1% or 2.3% respectively. The Cambria CSD has not issued an Intent letter since 2001.
  • The County of San Luis Obispo sets the countywide growth limit annually through limitations on issuance of building permits. The current growth rate allowed by the San Luis Obispo County is 0%.
  • The County will not process a building permit for any project that does not have water. Although it appears that the County will continue to annually set aside a number of building permit allocations for Cambria (they set aside 1% for each yer from 2002 to 2004), that does not mean the entire number of building permit allocations will automatically be issued Intent to Serve letters. Only the CCSD Board of Directors can set the annual number of Intent letters for water service.

Why would someone not accept his or her Intent to Serve letter?

  • Accepting an Intent to Serve letter means the applicant must meet a number of requirements with considerable financial commitments and time deadlines.
  • If the owner is not prepared to actively pursue a building permit, hire an architect and builder, acquire financing, and pay substantial fees, they should not accept an Intent to Serve.
  • Failure to meet the requirements can result in a project being returned to the waiting list and forfeiture of certain fees. A project may "defer" one time without penalty. If you would like to apply for an extension, please click on Intent to Serve Extension Application.

What about properties with no water position?

  • If a property has no water position, it is questionable whether a water permit could be obtained in the future.
  • Currently, the only option is to transfer water from another parcel that already has a position. The conditions under which a transfer is allowed include: matching ownership on the sender and receiver parcels in the transfer, and retirement of either the sender parcel or an approved alternate parcel. Transfers are limited to parcels with single-family residential water meters that meet certain size and location requirements.
  • If your property is smaller than 3,500 square feet (many single lots are only 1,750 sq. ft.) or is located in an area designated by San Luis Obispo County as Special Projects Area #1 (roughly Fern Canyon area to Romney Drive on Lodge Hill) or Special Project Area 2 (as depicted in Attachment "A" to Ordinance 02-2007), you cannot transfer water there.
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