Buildout Reduction Report

This section archives the events from 2016 forward as the Buildout Reduction Plan was activated. It stalled in 2011 when the CSD stopped accepting lots.

In March 2016, the CSD accepted 52 lots for the first time in four years. Read about it here.

The CSD established a standing committee to retire other lots under the program. Read about it here.

The Buildout Reduction Committee submitted its final report, BRP report-2017-12-14, in December 2017.  Here’s the Executive Summary:

Cambria is a scenic community of approximately 6,000 residents situated on the Central Coast of California. While enjoying an abundance of natural beauty and charm the town’s resources are limited, specifically water and other infrastructure. These limitations led the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) to adopt the goal of limiting residential water connections to 4,650 which was one of the alternatives described in the 2008 Water Master Plan. There are currently 1,377 undeveloped parcels within the CCSD’s service area that are in excess of this target.

As early as 2006, the CCSD undertook to deal with the problem by appointing a citizens’ committee to investigate and recommend means to eliminate or substantially reduce in a fair and reasonable manner the number of undeveloped parcels above 4,650. The 2006 citizens committee produced an initial Buildout Reduction Program (BRP) which was incorporated into the Environmental Impact Report for the 2008 Water Master Plan. The CCSD partially implemented the BRP and, over the past decade, a substantial number of undeveloped parcels have been retired primarily through voluntary parcel mergers.

In 2014, the CCSD initiated an application for a regular coastal development permit for the Sustainable Water Facility (SWF) pursuant to which it has certified as final a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR). The SEIR provides, among other elements, that the BRP shall be the means to mitigate any growth inducing impacts of the SWF. Additionally, the CCSD re-established a new Buildout Reduction Program Citizens’ Committee to review and update the initial BRP, including determining as accurately as possible the number of undeveloped parcels in excess of the targeted 4,650 residential connections. The new Committee was also charged with developing recommendations for realistic revenue sources to provide robust funding to complete the BRP process.

In approaching its task to determine viable new sources of revenue, the Committee adopted the overarching principle that a program which maintains Cambria’s natural beauty and charm, allows modest growth while reducing or eliminating development of all undeveloped parcels exceeding 4,650 residential connections benefits several stakeholder groups. Therefore, those stakeholders who benefit from the program should likewise share fairly in the program’s cost.

The Committee identified three distinct stakeholder groups that benefit from, and should share the cost of, the BRP. They are: property owners holding CCSD water wait list positions; current and future owners of developed residential and business parcels within the CCSD service area; and, tourists who obtain lodging from the town’s hotels, motels and vacation rentals. The program requires financial contributions by a large number of people spread throughout these three stakeholder groups. However, the proposed BRP described in this report distributes the burden so that no group or individual is asked to pay unreasonably or disproportionately to the benefit received.

The Committee recommends three core revenue streams tailored to the stakeholders identified above. With respect to property owners on the CCSD water wait list, we recommend the creation of a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District (CFD) that would contribute to the BRP by imposition of a special tax on the water wait listed property owners within the CFD either in connection with issuing a bond or without a bond. Current and future owners of developed residential and business parcels would be assessed a modest $100 per year special real property tax that would be specifically dedicated to the BRP. The Committee recommends an additional County Business Improvement District (CBID) assessment of 0.5% on lodging owners which can be passed through to their tourist guests.

Each revenue source must be approved by the stakeholder group to which it applies. The Committee recommends that all three revenue streams sunset after twenty-five-years. The revenues produced by the CFD and the special real property tax on current residents and businesses would each generate $10 million over the twenty-five-year term. The CBID assessments would generate $5 million over a similar term. These funds should be adequate to eliminate or substantially reduce the number of undeveloped parcels exceeding the 4,650-target and to maintain transferred parcels through the end of the term.

The Committee considered but rejected several other proposed core revenue sources. The principal revenue sources rejected by the Committee are discussed in Appendix I. In addition, this report discusses and recommends several secondary methods to acquire or otherwise retire parcels that do not involve spending substantial core source revenues.

This report lays out an aggressive but feasible buildout reduction program that eliminates or substantially reduces the number of undeveloped parcels above and beyond the 4,650-target on residential water connections. Adopting the program, gaining public approval and following through will require discipline and some economic sacrifice. However, implementing the BRP will assure that the goal of limiting residential water connections to 4,650 will be maintained and Cambria’s beauty and charm preserved forever.

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