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Cambria vets lose ADA parking spot to new EV charger

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A few weeks ago, Cambria resident Brian Griffin went down to the local Veterans Memorial Hall to enjoy some baked potatoes and hot dogs at the weekly meal provided for veterans like him. But when he arrived, something was different.

PARKING CHANGES A new EV charging station at the Cambria Vets Hall was installed where an ADA spot used to be. Veterans who use the spot to access their American Legion Post 432 club are frustrated by the change. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN GRIFFIN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN GRIFFIN
  • PARKING CHANGES A new EV charging station at the Cambria Vets Hall was installed where an ADA spot used to be. Veterans who use the spot to access their American Legion Post 432 club are frustrated by the change.

"I went down there, and here's these two electric vehicle charging stations in the place where there was a handicap parking spot," said Griffin, vice president of American Legion Post 432 in Cambria. "I went in and started asking what was going on there. Everybody was just kind of shrugging their shoulders saying, 'I don't know why they did that.'"

For the disabled veterans who use the American Legion clubhouse, the former ADA spot was essential, Griffin said.

The other ADA spots "are up a graded area, probably a couple of hundred feet away from the door to the club," he said. "We're upset about this whole thing because nobody even asked us where we'd like to see these things."

The electric vehicle (EV) charging station was funded by a grant from the SLO County Air Pollution Control District (APCD), but it was installed by the Cambria Community Services District, which owns and operates the Vets Hall.

Vince Kirkhuff, air quality specialist with the APCD, said that while the county didn't have a say over where the EV charger was placed, he had a couple of theories as to why this spot was chosen.

"EV spaces are required to follow the ADA guidelines," Kirkhuff explained. "I would imagine that has something to do with why they used one of their handicap spots as a charger. The other thing about positioning EV chargers is you want to place them close to where the power is. There's substantial expense if you have to extend your electrical line out to another spot."

John Weigold, Cambria Community Services District general manager, said he's still trying to get to the bottom of why the chargers were placed there.

"That north side of the building was selected because of the ease of access to the electrical panel inside the building," Weigold said. "Originally, we thought the charging stations were going to be to the left of where they currently are, not impacting the ADA spot on the end. Then somehow during the permitting process with the engineer that drew up the drawings, it got moved all the way to the right."

Weigold looked into creating a temporary ADA spot.

"But we can't unilaterally create our own ADA spot—that has to be permitted," he said.

One potential resolution is to move the EV charger spots over, but that can't happen just yet.

"We have to first complete the installation process and get final permit approval, because that drives our ability to get reimbursed with the grant," Weigold said. "That shouldn't be too much longer, I would say three weeks to get that wrapped up. Then we're focused on [finding] the long-term solution."

Griffin said he's in favor of having electric vehicle charging stations in the community—just not in the current location.

"We want to encourage people to come here from all over the state, and use the businesses and all that," he said. "But why in the world would anyone want to put electric vehicle charging stations around the back of the building where nobody can see them? ... It would have been great to have two handicap spots down there where the entrance to the American Legion club is, and now we have none." Δ

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