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9/17/2023 Letter from the General Manager

Updated 9/20/2023 8:47am to include CAL FIRE's new phone number.

Update on 9/17/2023 Residential Fire

At 0248 hours, Cambria Fire Department was dispatched to a fire at 1980 Spencer. Engine 5792 assumed command and began an offensive attack. The fire was controlled and contained to the structure itself with no exposures threatened. This was accomplished by coordinated efforts with Cal Fire, Morro Bay Fire, Cambria Community Healthcare District Ambulance, and the Red Cross. All occupants and pets escaped uninjured.

Update on Weed Abatement

The Cambria Fire Department conducts a Fire Hazard Fuel Reduction Program (FHFRP) to abate vegetation and hazardous wildland fire fuels each year on vacant parcels. CAL FIRE manages the weed abatement for improved parcels. The FHFRP is carried out pursuant to the authority contained in Government Code Sections 61100(d) and (t) and Health and Safety Code Sections 14875 et seq. and is initiated by the Board’s adoption of a resolution declaring the vegetation and hazardous wildland fire fuels on the identified properties to be a public nuisance.

In April, per the Health and Safety Code requirements, a Notice to Destroy Weeds and remove debris was sent to the owners of 1,890 vacant parcels, which were identified and noticed for weed abatement this year. Many of these parcels were abated by parcel owners and/or their personal contractors prior to the inspection deadline. Of these 1,890 parcels, 556 did not pass inspection and have been placed on the contract abatement list. The number of properties requiring annual clearance by the CCSD’s contractor typically varies from 50 to 150 parcels, but 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. On June 8, 2023, the Board of Directors awarded Mike Rice with the 2023 Fire Hazard Fuel Reduction Program agreement. On August 10, 2023, the CCSD Board of Directors adopted Resolution 43-2023, ordering the abatement of the offending weeds and debris (Health and Safety Code Section 14900) and directed the Fire Chief to abate them. Mike Rice started clearing vacant lots on August 11, 2023.

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. On Friday, September 15, 2023, our fire department joined forces with our facilities and resources crews to clear these lots. They have continued to work throughout the weekend and will begin further weed abatement on CCSD-owned vacant parcels, the East Ranch, including the dog park, playing fields, and trails.

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. We are meeting with another contractor tomorrow morning to assist in closing the gap on these uncleared lots. We are also meeting with Mike Rice tomorrow morning to formulate a plan. 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding weed abatement for improved parcels, please get in touch with CAL FIRE at 805-927-4262. CAL FIRE is inspecting all improved parcels Monday through Thursday. For all other questions regarding weed abatement for vacant parcels, please get in touch with the Cambria Fire Department at 805-927-6240.

If you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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

Matthew McElhenie

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