Skip to main content

9/15/2023 Letter from the General Manager

Dear Cambrians, 

"Falling on one's sword" is a figurative expression originating from ancient times, where a defeated or disgraced warrior might choose to fall onto their own sword as a means of suicide rather than be captured or face dishonor. In modern parlance, the phrase has taken on a metaphorical meaning, referring to someone taking responsibility for a mistake or misdeed, especially to protect someone else or for the greater good. Your General Manager is going to do just that. 

As we all know, the District had a 200 percent jump in the amount of uncleared lots this year. Several factors played a part, which we will address in the future. Until Monday, September 11, 2023, I was told we were on track to have these declared public nuisance lots cleared by our deadline. However, on Monday, I was told that this was not the case and that our contractor had fallen severely behind. Shortly after, I began formulating a plan to get us back on track involving our beloved fire department and facilities and resources staff. Beginning today, our fire department joined forces with our facilities and resources crews to clear these lots. They will continue into the weekend (kudos to them). We are meeting with another contractor on Monday to assist in closing the gap on these uncleared lots. 

After several meetings with the public, it is clear we need to change how we approach this in future years to come. We will look at all weed abatement deadlines and evaluate the changes needed to avoid this. I do not know why this happened; I do not know why this was not brought to my attention, but it is my responsibility. As such, I am here to take responsibility for fixing it. We will make sure this is addressed to provide for a safer Cambria. 

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
  • Updating Novus Agenda to Peak Agenda Management 
  • Working with Complete Paperless Solutions, LLC for Laserfiche support
  • Working with FEMA regarding the March 2023 storm damage 

District staff created a page on the website for current contracts, agreements, and grants. The link is

Facilities & Resources Department

The Facilities & Resources Department has cleared branches, debris, and chipping from the Main Street walkway to East Ranch. Our team has been actively cleaning up abandoned encampments. The total trash and debris left behind was over 2 tons (4,200 lbs.). We will begin further weed abatement at the East Ranch, including the dog park, playing fields, and trails. We will begin to look towards the West Santa Rosa Trail to clear the path and remove hazardous branches or trees. 

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:  

Fire Department

Under the California State Office of Traffic Safety Grant programs, the Fire Department applied for the Emergency Medical Services Grant program. The Grant award is for $42,044.00 for the purchase of a new set of battery-powered jaws-of-life extrication equipment to outfit our second fire engine. This grant aims to assist in providing timely care to crash victims, which is critical to reducing deaths and the severity of injuries. When a person is injured in a crash, they rely on first responders to quickly locate them, stabilize their injury, and transport them for care.

Water & Wastewater Departments

District staff met with Executive Director Dr. Hucklebrige, Dan Carl, Kevin Kahn, and Tom Luster with our key staff members on August 31st. The participants engaged in constructive dialogue on many important issues, including the status of the District’s Coastal Development Permit Application for the Water Reclamation Facility. The District and Coastal Commission have agreed to meet monthly as we progress with the permitting process.  

September 14, 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. 

EV Charging Station

The Board of Directors approved a Public Works Agreement with Thoma Electric to relocate the electric vehicle charging station at the Veterans' Hall. It adopted Resolution 51-2023 for a budget adjustment of $24,831. Work will commence at the beginning of October.

San Luis Obispo County Tourism Business Improvement District Cambria Skatepark Grant

The District applied for and was awarded a grant for $47,500 towards the skate park project from the San Luis Obispo County Tourism Business Improvement District. On September 14, 2023, the Board of Directors approved the Local Area Grant Funding Agreement with the County of San Luis Obispo on behalf of the SLO County Tourism Business Improvement. Resolution 31-2023 was approved by the Board of Directors on May 18, 2023, which required the District to restrict approximately $843,784 of General Fund Reserves with the grant application. With the acceptance of this grant, the District was able to release $47,500 of the previously restricted General Fund Reserves for the Cambria Skatepark project, which will help fund the bathroom construction at the Cambria Skatepark.

Update on PROS Committee

To create a uniform structure for its advisory bodies, the Board of Directors recently adopted Ordinance 02-2023, which repealed Chapter 7.08 of the Cambria Community Services District Municipal Code relating to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission. The Board also adopted Resolution 44-2023, amending the Board and Standing Committee Bylaws to create the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Committee ("Committee"). With the passage of the required 30-day waiting period, Ordinance 02-2023 is now effective.

The Board of Directors appointed Steve Kniffen, Kermit Johansson, Jim Bahringer, and Shannon Sutherland to the newly formed Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Committee. The Board of Directors also directed staff to advertise to solicit candidates to fill the vacant position on the PROS Committee. They also appointed Director Michael Thomas as the PROS Committee Chairperson.

Update on Concept Plan for East Ranch Community Park

The Board of Directors received a presentation from the PROS Committee on a concept plan for a Disc Golf Course at the East Ranch Community Park and directed the PROS Committee to develop recommendations for a community-wide survey for East Ranch recreational options.

Emergency Vegetation Removal at Van Gordon Creek

The Board of Directors approved a Public Works Contract with Paradise Tree Service for emergency vegetation removal at Van Gordon Creek for flood control purposes, authorized the General Manager to execute the contract, and adopted Resolution 49-2023 for a budget adjustment of $59,000. During the January and March 2023 rainstorms, Van Gordon Creek (VGC) flooded onto Clyde Warren's property due to debris in the stream channel obstructing the water flow. Mr. Warren was alerted to this and responded by obtaining an emergency permit through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and clearing VGC through his property in July. After meeting with Fish and Wildlife staff, they have concluded that the District is also eligible to do streambed clearing under the same emergency permit. CCSD staff recommends clearing the VGC streambed where it runs through CCSD property of any obstructions before the 2023/2024 rainy season to prevent VGC from backing up and causing flooding. 

On 7/26/2023, District staff, along with representatives from two tree companies, walked the length of VGC from San Simeon Road to the outfall for the WRF (about 2/3 of the stretch of VGC that runs through CCSD property) and obtained estimates for the removal of vegetation, trees, logs, and other woody obstructions from the streambed. A third contractor, contacted to provide an estimate for the work, was deemed a non-responsive bidder. All the obstructions were woody, so no streambed alteration other than vegetation and wood removal would be necessary. The work would be consistent with the emergency permit. Staff recommended approving the contract with Paradise Tree Service. The work must be done by hand as no large equipment will be allowed on the streambed. 

In addition to the work by the contractor, the District would also hire Cleveland Biological to perform the environmental surveys to ensure no impacts to endangered species. This environmental monitoring work can be covered under a separate purchase order within the FY 23/24 Water Budget. This work is proposed to be performed in September when VGC is the driest.

Instream Flow Study

The Board of Directors approved an amendment to the Agreement for Consultant Services with Stillwater Sciences for an expanded scope of work for the Instream Flow Study. It adopted Resolution 50-2023, amending the Fiscal Year 2023/2024 Budget.

On August 19, 2021, the Board approved an agreement with Stillwater Sciences to perform an Instream Flow Study. At the time, this effort was characterized as Task 1 of the two-task approach the District took to complete the Instream Flow Study requirements within the San Luis Obispo Local Coastal Program and to respond to the Information Hold for the WRF Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application. The groundwater modeling and monitoring activities near the WRF project site (Task 2) will be completed by early 2024.

Task 1 was a larger-scale, long-term study of the Lower San Simeon Creek Watershed, which provided a collaborative work plan to guide the collection and analysis per the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's (CDFW) Instream Flow Program. Stillwater Sciences provided a work plan which addressed the following elements: 

  • Development of an Instream Flow Study Plan for San Simeon Creek that meets the standards of the CDFW to identify instream flow criteria. 
  • Mobilization of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) consisting of qualified staff from California State Parks, California Coastal Commission, CDFW, County of San Luis Obispo, and the Upper Salinas Las Tablas Resource Conservation District. Other agencies not listed here may also be invited to participate. 
  • Assistance and guidance to District staff in researching and completing applications to applicable grant and financing opportunities to supplement the project budget. 
  • Preparation of a technical report summarizing the results of the Instream Flow Study (IFS) that will include a monitoring plan for long-term sustainable environmental stewardship. 

After a more than yearlong effort, the data collection, analysis, TAC coordination, and review were completed but still need to be finalized. Though staff employed a pragmatic approach to separate the Instream Flow Study as a two-task approach, the timetable of the two efforts merged and made it feasible to combine them as a single Instream Flow Study. The County of San Luis Obispo (SLO) and the Coastal Commission staff have agreed. 

During the review process, both Coastal Commission and County of SLO staff have expressed concerns about the effects of Van Gordon Creek and its relation to WRF operations. Since these concerns were not included in the original scope of work (dated June 1, 2021), the proposal was brought before and approved by the District at the September 14th Board meeting.  

The completed Instream Flow Study will be presented to the Board of Directors and available for public comment. After all appropriate comments are incorporated, the Instream Flow Study will be finalized. The results of the Instream Flow Study will provide the District and its partner resource agencies with the information necessary to manage instream flows to maintain healthy conditions for coastal resources dependent on the watershed and will be made available to inform the CDP process for the WRF.

September 14, 2023, Board Meeting Documents

Resolution 48-2023 Updating the Assignment of Banking PowersResolution 49-2023 Amending the Fiscal year 2023-2024 BudgetResolution 50-2023 Amending the Fiscal year 2023-2024 BudgetResolution 51-2023 Amending the Fiscal year 2023-2024 BudgetAgreement for Local Area Grant Funding (CCSD executed)First Amendment to Agreement for Consultant Services between CCSD & Stillwater Sciences for an Expanded Scope of Work for the Instream Flow Study - pending signaturesPublic Works Agreement between CCSD and Paradise Tree Service for Ecological Creek Clearing Project Public Works Contract between CCSD & Thoma Electric for Electric Vehicle Charging Station Relocation Project - pending signatures

Upcoming October Board Meeting Items (subject to change):

  • Discussion and consideration of Strategic Plan update
  • Fill the vacant seat on the PROS Committee
  • Update the assignment of banking powers
  • Discussion and consideration of General Manager performance evaluation process and modifying the form used for review of General Manager’s performance
  • Provide a fire prevention plan for Cambria
  • Discussion and consideration of approval of the Zero Liquid Discharge Pilot Testing program
  • Receive report from Ad Hoc Committee on future use and funding for the Veterans' Hall
  • Receive PROS Committee recommendations on a community-wide survey for East Ranch recreational options 
  • Update the CCSD Board on the County-wide evacuation plan

On Thursday, October 5, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., I will work 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

Join our mailing list