Courts will not allow Cambria to go ahead with its plan to build new water storage tanks on land that is protected by a conservation easement. A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge denied Cambriaâ€™s plan to build the tanks, and urged Cambria to find a solution that would satisfy the California Coastal Commission and the SLO County Planning and Building Department.
Both the Coastal Commission and the Planning and Building Department are opposed to Cambriaâ€™s current tank plan, which would destroy a rare section of Monterey pine forest that is protected by a conservation easement. Cambria officials recently used the powers of eminent domain to take over the land. According to officials in Cambria, the existing tanks at the Pine Knolls site are not seismically fit and cannot safely hold water needed to fight fires.
Cambria was attempting to seek an emergency permit to build the tanks, overriding the need for a coastal permit.
The Coastal Commission maintains that Cambria should use the existing Pine Knolls lot without encroaching into environmentally sensitive habitat to build the new tanks.
The judge agreed, ruling that the situation does not qualify for an emergency permit, and that Cambria must obtain the standard coastal permit. The ruling also prevents Cambria from cutting down trees. The judge as well agreed that the county was right in rescinding its original permit.
â€œNow, hopefully, with this court ruling, they will be more open to sitting down and redesigning the project to save the trees,â€? said Sarah Christie, California Coastal Commission spokeswoman.