Swing from development to conservation sways CSD Kathe Tanner, The San Luis Obispo County Tribune CAMBRIA – A key Cambria governmental agency has reversed its 5-year-old position on how development on the Hearst Ranch would affect the community – mainly because the emphasis of a new, evolving plan has switched from development to conservation of the 82,000-acre oceanfront ranch land. The Cambria Community Services District board voted unanimously Thursday to endorse the framework that will guide the Hearst Corp. and conservation partner American Land Conservancy (ALC) through the rest of the process. The process will include raising money from such sources as the state’s Proposition 50, philanthropic foundations and other sources of grants. Money raised would pay Hearst Corp. for development rights on nearly all of the acreage, including 18 miles of coastline. The newly expanded coastal access will help the state complete a long-sought California Coastal Trail, providing contiguous hiking rights along the coast from Oregon to Mexico. The Cambria district will send letters supporting the conservation concept to state and federal funding agencies. Three people in the audience asked whether the district has the right to endorse a project outside its jurisdiction and about which there are still substantial questions. Others spoke in favor of the district’s endorsement. District counsel Art Montandon called the action “largely ceremonial in nature. “The vote represents a turnaround for the district. When the state Coastal Commission reviewed a former Hearst proposal in January 1998, the district board protested the projected impact that the larger Hearst project would have had on Cambria. But the resort, golf course and nearly all of the development in that previous plan could be gone now, ALC representative Kara Blakeslee told the board Thursday. The project is nearing a crucial point – both for agreement between the corporation and the conservancy and for securing public funding should the proposed conservation deal go through, Blakeslee said. “I’m here today, seeking your thumbs up” on the basic concept, she added.Wayne Ryburn, a former fervent Hearst opponent, spoke in favor of the agreement. “North Coast Alliance was formed in 1997 specifically to oppose the Hearst development because it would wreck our lifestyle,” he said. “We can come to you today to say ‘Endorse this, it’s the thing to do.'”Other endorsements have been flowing in for the new plan, which has a strong emphasis on conserving most of the land for open space and agricultural operations. Supporters include the county Board of Supervisors, the North Coast Advisory Council, farming and ranching organizations, and several environmental groups. The San Simeon Chamber of Commerce will schedule a special meeting to endorse the concept. That town’s community services district board is expected to weigh in on the issue at another special meeting sometime next week. In the current framework, the corporation has agreed to forgo most development on the ranch. The possible exceptions are an inn with no more than 100 rooms in Old San Simeon Village and 27 homes east of Highway 1. The deal would also provide public access to the ranch’s entire 18-mile coastline west of the highway. No deal has been reached, but participants say they expect to sign an option agreement within a few weeks. :nav Source: http://www.maui-tomorrow.org/issuespages/landuse/slo.html

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