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8/18/2023 Letter from the General Manager

Dear Cambrians,

Let us wade into deep water (no pun intended) because this is long. 

I want to clarify where we will focus our efforts for the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) Coastal Development Permit (CDP) moving forward under new leadership. Cambria has had a long and complex history concerning its efforts to secure a sustainable water source.  Our community has faced significant challenges related to water scarcity, and one of the proposed solutions was the implementation of an Advanced Water Treatment Plant (AWTP), what we know now as the WRF. However, the path to getting this facility approved and operational has been fraught with obstacles and controversies.   

Some of our community members are against the WRF, raising concerns about the project's cost, rate increases for residents, and questions about the actual need for such a facility, given our water consumption patterns. As you know, financing the project was another significant hurdle. With delays and modifications came increased costs. There are questions about the effectiveness and reliability of the proposed water treatment processes and concerns about potential challenges in maintaining and operating the facility in the long run.   

We are not connected to the state water project and solely rely on our local water sources. Due to the various challenges and concerns, our project has undergone multiple revisions and seen extensive consultations and negotiations among stakeholders. 

Our water management and infrastructure projects, especially those in environmentally sensitive areas like Cambria, face extensive scrutiny and challenges. We must balance ensuring a sustainable water supply for residents and protecting the environment. 

One of the primary concerns about the WRF is its environmental impact. The project has faced scrutiny regarding the potential effects on our local ecosystem, especially given Cambria's location near our sensitive coastal habitats. There are challenges in obtaining necessary permits from various regulatory agencies, including the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Coastal Commission. Each entity had its concerns and requirements, which have led to delays and modifications to the project plans and overall project description.  This is where our new leadership will work with government regulatory agencies to design a plan that addresses the concerns of our impact on our environmentally sensitive habitats (ESHA).  

I am sure this is where you are saying, “Yeah, right, we have heard this before.” Some of our community has said that to my face at my monthly town halls. I understand your concerns, skepticism, and overall doubt; they are valid. Yet, let me assure you, this Board hired me with one of its top missions to work with, not against, our regulatory agencies, and finalize the CDP. I have had several meetings with the Coastal Commission and the County of San Luis Obispo, and we are gaining a better insight into the deficits of our project description and the lack of detail of our planned mitigation efforts to offset the disturbed ESHA from the WRF. With that insight, we now know that we might have exceeded the expertise of the current staff and need to reach out to consultants who specialize in working with environmental agencies. More to come on that.   

Stuart Street Tanks


In preparation for funding from the EPA for the Stuart St. replacement, staff sought recommendations for a pre-funding (non-competitive/ no-charge) engineering assessment from several engineering consultants to ensure compliance with EPA grant funding for developing a bolted tank spec that the district can use to solicit construction bids for staff’s encounter with consulting agencies resulted in concern that replacing the tanks “in kind” would trigger a requirement to meet current AWWA and CBC code requirements.

Engineering conditions:

The existing 1985 Trusco tanks have one foot of freeboard, which will not meet the current code; due to the updated regulatory requirements, the tank location is designated as Seismic Use Group 3. Thus, modifying the operating level would likely need to be reduced, or the tank roof height increased to accommodate a “sloshing wave” in a seismic event to maintain the current storage volume. The regulatory code requires seismic and foundation evaluations. These evaluations then provide seismic design criteria to the tank manufacturer.

The following criteria are required for a pre-engineering assessment:

  • Geologic setting;
  • Soil and groundwater conditions encountered;
  • Seismic data for use with the California Building Code;
  • Liquefaction potential and estimated seismic settlement of the soil encountered;
  • Fill placement, compaction;
  • Material specifications for compacted fill, trench backfill, imported fill, geosynthetics, and other materials that may be recommended in the report;
  • Suitability of the soil encountered for reuse as compacted fill, select material, or trench backfill;
  • Expansive soil conditions;
  • Recommendations for the design of a concrete ring or mat slab foundation for the water storage tank:
    • Ultimate coefficient friction
    • Anticipated settlement
    • Dimensions of ring
    • Fill and grade within the ring foundation
    • Max bearing pressures
  • Preparation of the subgrade in excavations, subgrade conditions encountered, need for subgrade stabilization, and excavation considerations for slopes, shoring, dewatering, and adjacent structures;
  • Design of mat or slab foundations to support tank, allowable bearing resistance, subgrade moduli, and estimated settlement considering static and seismic loads;
  • Resistance to lateral loads from passive resistance and friction;
  • Suggested detail and requirements for trench subgrade (foundation) preparation, bedding, pipe zone, and backfill materials for buried utilities and pipes.

District’s Current Standing:

Utilities staff has received a solid bid from a noteworthy geological consultant and is awaiting proposals from two other significant professionals. Budgetary monies have been encumbered before this fiscal year for Professional services specifically for this development. Final bids from qualified consultants should be received by 8/25. An internal evaluation of candidates for bid award will take place shortly thereafter.

Administration Department

The Cambria Community Services District Administration Office is open Monday - Thursday and every other Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm or by appointment only. The Administration Office is closed for lunch daily from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, please get in touch with the Administration Office at 805-927-6223.

Ms. Fritz and Mrs. Dodson are continuing to work on the following projects:

  • Researching an electronic billing portal through Tyler Technologies
  • Researching vendors for accepting electronic payments
  • Researching vendors for updating records retention policy and schedule
  • Updating Novus Agenda to Peak Agenda Management 
  • Updating fee schedule with Bartle Wells & Associates
  • Working with Complete Paperless Solutions, LLC for Laserfiche support
  • Working with FEMA regarding the March 2023 storm damage 

Facilities & Resources Department

To submit general inquiries, or to report any issues on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, public restrooms, Cambria Dog Park, or to schedule a meeting with Mr. Aguirre, please submit your inquiries or concerns here:  Mr. Aguirre, Ms. Fritz, and Mrs. Dodson are meeting with Tyler Technologies next week to build a Facilities & Resources Department work order system; this should help us track the demand on our Facilities & Resources Department, which is already strained. 

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grant Application

The District has successfully submitted the grant application for the skate park project before the June 1 deadline. The LWCF contacted the District requesting more information, and the District submitted the requested information on August 1, 2023. 

Update on PROS Commission

On August 10, 2023, the Board of Directors adopted Resolution 44-2023, which amended the Board and Standing Committee Bylaws to create the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Committee and repeal the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Commission bylaws/guidelines.

On July 20, 2023, the Board of Directors introduced Ordinance 02-2023, repealing Cambria Community Services District Code Chapter 7.08. Ordinance 02-2023 was adopted on August 10, 2023, and will take effect on September 10, 2023.

Fire Department

We wish Cliff Elgin all the best as he departs for his new adventure. Cliff was hired as a Reserve Firefighter with the Cambria Fire Department in October 2020. He was promoted to SAFER Firefighter Paramedic on January 1, 2022, and Fire Engineer Paramedic on February 2, 2023. Cliff recently accepted employment with the City of Morro Bay.

Water & Wastewater Departments

As Mr. Dienzo embarks on his new chapter, we want to express our gratitude for his commitment, dedication, and service as our Utilities Department Manager. Yet, as they say, the show must go on. With that, we want to congratulate Jim Green on his promotion to Utilities Department Manager, effective September 14th.  

Jim, an Orange County native, relocated to the Central Coast in 2000. Here, he has raised three grown children, with the eldest recently completing his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Cal Poly SLO. After two decades in San Miguel, Jim now resides in Paso Robles with his wife and stepson. Jim transitioned to the water resources field after many successful years in retail management. He has been employed with the District since 2018 and is a licensed T4/D3 water operator. Jim started with the District as Chief Plant Operator for the Water Reclamation Facility. After a few months, he was asked to take on additional responsibility as the water supervisor and eventually became Water Systems Superintendent. As the acting Utilities Department Manager, Jim oversees the water and wastewater departments, including a staff of 13, a $8.8M budget, and many current and future capital projects. Jim’s experience gives us a great opportunity to finalize the CDP for the WRF.  His leadership experience and unique knowledge of Cambria’s water resources and regulatory environments make Jim a valued member of the District’s management team.

We welcome Owen Purcell as he joins the CCSD as the Water Treatment Operator-In-Training next week. He worked for Farm Supply and holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Cal Poly.

The District met with Senator John Laird on July 25 to discuss some of Cambria's more pressing issues. Following in mid-August, District staff will meet with the California Coastal Commission representatives on the 10th, and the 31st, we will meet with Executive Director Dr. Hucklebrige and other key staff members. The participants will engage in constructive dialogue on many important issues, including the status of the District's Coastal Development Permit Application for the Water Reclamation Facility.

Update on EV Charging Stations

The CCSD installed an Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building, funded through a grant under the SLO County Clean Air Incentive Program managed by the SLO County Air Pollution Control District (APCD). The EV station was constructed on the southwest side of the building in place of two existing accessible parking spaces. The former General Manager and staff stated that the location was the best choice because of its proximity to the electrical circuit box and the requirement for all public EV charging stations to be accessible parking spaces. Two new accessible parking spaces were established in the east side parking lot. The American Legion, which leases the ground floor of the Veterans' Memorial Hall, previously utilized the accessible parking spaces and requested that the CCSD move the newly constructed EV Charging station to a different location. On November 10, 2022, the Utilities Department Manager/District Engineer was directed to pursue establishing the EV charging stations at the front of the Veterans' Memorial Hall in the recommended area and coordinate with the Legion members in re-establishing the identity of the two parking places that were removed. I have coordinated with the American Legion members in re-establishing the identity of the two parking places that were removed and received quotes for the relocation of the electric vehicle charging station at the Veterans Hall. The District met with Thoma Electric, who has formulated a quote for the movement of the EV charging station. We will bring a budget adjustment to the Board to fund the EV station's movement on September 14.

August 10, 2023, Board Meeting Update 

For a more detailed Board meeting transcript, go to and choose which item you would like to listen to on the timeline dropdown. 

The Board of Directors held a public hearing and adopted Resolution 43-2023 ordering the abatement of public nuisance for the Fire Hazard Fuel Reduction Program (FHFRP) and authorized the Fire Chief to abate the nuisance by removing the weeds and debris from the parcels listed in Resolution 43-2023 Exhibit A. The CCSD contractor began clearing lots on August 11, 2023, and final inspections will occur on September 18, 2023.

The Board of Directors approved proceeding with procurement by non-competitive proposals for a sole-source acquisition of Badger meter endpoints and software for upgrading District water meters to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. Staff will purchase approximately 100 endpoints and begin the engagement and billing integration process with Badger. This will address some of the most problematic meters immediately.

The Board of Directors approved an Agreement for Consultant Services with Cannon Corporation for design and engineering services for the San Simeon water transmission main and effluent line replacement project and authorized the General Manager to execute the Agreement. The water main delivers water from the San Simeon well field, which provides about 80% of the District’s water supply, and the effluent line provides the District’s sole disposal conveyance of its treated wastewater. This water main and the effluent lines are critical infrastructure to the District. The estimated project duration is two years and will cost $585,815, not including construction.

The Board of Directors approved an Agreement for Consultant Services with Optimized Investment Partners, a registered investment advisor. The District has historically invested its surplus cash in the LAIF investment pool and with various banks. This conservative strategy worked well over the last several years because market interest rates were so low. It provided safe and complete liquidity while still earning some interest; however, interest rates have risen dramatically over the last year. To take advantage of recent changes in the investment market, staff reviewed various options related to a more active investment strategy. Optimized Investment Partners has reviewed the District’s cash accounting and projects that they can earn an estimated $175,000 in additional investment interest annually using only conservative, federally backed, and/or collateralized investment products based upon today’s interest rates. While interest rates will change over time, having a full-time investment advisor will assist the District in maximizing investment earnings while ensuring the safety of surplus cash and maintaining sufficient liquidity for operations. The projected earnings are $360,000 annually. The current earnings are $185,000.  

August 10, 2023, Board Meeting Documents

Ordinance 02-2023 Repealing Chapter 7.08 of the CCSD Municipal Code & Dissolving the Parks, Recreation & Open Space Commission Resolution 43-2023 Ordering Abatement of Public Nuisance for FHFRPResolution 44-2023 Amending the CCSD Board and Standing Committee Bylaws in Order to Establish a Parks, Recreation & Open Space (PROS) Commission Bylaws & GuidelinesAgreement for Consultant Services with Cannon Corporation - San Simeon Main & Effluent Line Replacement ProjectAgreement for Consultant Services with Optimized Investment Partners, LLC Badger Advanced Metering Infrastructure Upgrade

August 17, 2023, Board Meeting Update

For a more detailed Board meeting transcript, go to and choose which item you would like to listen to on the timeline dropdown. 

The Board of Directors approved the adoption of Resolution 46-2023 approving the CCSD Final Budget for FY 2023/2024, reserve for encumbrances of multi-year projects and contractual obligations, and approving receiving and filing the Fourth Quarter Budget Report for FY 2022/23.

The Board of Directors approved a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Cambria Historical Society for the Center Street Pocket Park. The sale of the Property will result in a $5,000 payment to the District and savings on the ongoing maintenance costs associated with the property. There will be a deed restriction placed on the property, which will prohibit the use of the property for any purpose other than as a historic facility that is open to the public as the location for the historic Cambria Jail and as part of the Cambria Historical District along Center Street and ancillary uses to that purpose. In the event the restriction is violated, the property shall revert back to the District. After purchase, the plan is to move the Cambria Jail to the Pocket Park as an extension of the Historical District. The Pocket Park is near the original location of the Jail.

The Board of Directors appointed Scott McCann to fill the vacancy on the Finance Committee. Mr. McCann is a licensed physical therapist with extensive and varied corporate finance experience and commercial lending roles with a Fortune 200 company and major regional banks. He will serve the remainder of the respective term, which expires on February 1, 2025.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

The Board of Directors approved the installation of replacement Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary signs on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Michele Roest presented the replacement signs at the meeting. The District worked with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to arrange for these signs to be fabricated with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's updated logo and map boundaries. 

Photo Courtesy of Michele Roest
Photo Courtesy of Michele Roest - Southern Region Community Liaison, Contractor with Lynker in support ofNOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
May contain: nature, outdoors, sea, water, animal, reef, sea life, land, bear, mammal, wildlife, and coral reef
May contain: nature, outdoors, sea, water, advertisement, poster, and plant

August 17, 2023 Board Meeting Documents

Resolution 45-2023 Amending the District's Conflict of Interest CodeResolution 46-2023 Approving the CCSD Final Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-2024 and Reserve for Encumbrances for Fiscal Year 2022-2023CCSD Final Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-2024Fourth Quarter Budget Report for Fiscal Year 2022-2023Resolution 47-2023 Authorizing Delegation to General Manager for Disability RetirementCambria Purchase & Sale Agreement (pending signatures)

Upcoming September Board Meeting Items:

  • Discussion and consideration of approval of agreement regarding the relocation of EV charging stations at the Veterans' Hall
  • Update the assignment of banking powers.
  • Discussion and consideration of PROS Committee appointments and designate a Committee Chair.
  • Discussion and consideration of emergency vegetation removal at Van Gordon Creek for flood control purposes and approval of a resolution for a budget adjustment
  • Discussion and consideration of concept plan for park facilities at East Ranch
  • Discussion and consideration of the General Manager evaluation process and form used to review the General Manager's performance.
  • Discussion and consideration of approval of an amendment to the agreement for consultant services with Stillwater Sciences for an expanded scope of work for the Instream Flow Study
  • Discussion and consideration of approval of consultant services agreement for the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) Coastal Development Permit (CDP) process
  • Consideration of approval of an agreement for consultant services to update our Records Retention Policy & Schedule
  • Discussion and consideration to approve Amendment No. 5 to the agreement for the use of the Veterans' Memorial Building facilities with American Legion Post No. 432
  • Discussion regarding evacuation planning
  • Discussion and consideration regarding approval of an agreement for the use of well SR4 at Coast Union High School 
  • Discussion and consideration to approve hiring a third maintenance technician for the Facilities & Resources Department

On Friday, September 8, 2023, from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, I will be working out of the Cambria Veterans' Memorial Hall. I would love to meet interested community members and hear your thoughts on everything. We will provide coffee, snacks, and the ability to engage in dialogue about everything Cambria.

As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas. If you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me or any of our management team.

Thank you again for your support; I am at your service. 

Matthew McElhenie

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