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Cambria rejects more fire funding; county OKs providing fire services to Cayucos 

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on June 5 unanimously approved a plan to provide fire services for the Cayucos community and a proposal to assess future fire protection needs countywide.

First District Supervisor John Peschong said he doesn't see how certain areas of the county can have the necessary fire coverage without the county stepping in.

"I'm in a really tough place here, but I think we have to do this and I don't want people to feel that they're in jeopardy because we didn't step up," Peschong said.

click to enlarge CONTAINING COVERAGE San Luis Obispo County is working on assuring its community service districts that they will have future fire service protection. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • CONTAINING COVERAGE San Luis Obispo County is working on assuring its community service districts that they will have future fire service protection.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to staff one structure engine 24/7 with two firefighters housed at the existing station in Cayucos, Station 56, through its contract with Cal Fire. The station will require renovations that are estimated to be $1.1 million.

The Cayucos Fire Protection District filed a dissolution application with the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) on Sept. 12, 2017, due to a lack of available volunteer staff and limited revenues to pay for fire services.

The following month the county requested that LAFCO put the application on hold to allow the board to discuss the district's proposal. With the approval of a service plan for the Cayucos community, LAFCO Executive Officer David Church said the application could be processed in the next few weeks and brought to the board's July 19 meeting.

Now that Cayucos is on a path to having fire coverage should the Cayucos Fire Protection District dissolve, it will not be part of the supervisors' analysis of fire service levels from the county's special districts. Districts in Cambria, Oceano, San Miguel, Templeton, and Santa Margarita are invited to participate in the analysis.

In the June 5 primary election, preliminary results show that the Cambria community rejected a fire tax that would have maintained current staffing levels at its fire department. Measure A-18, a tax of $62.15 per parcel owner, would have paid for three full-time firefighters. The measure needs two-thirds of the votes to pass, but the unofficial results show the tax only received 53 percent approval.

The Five Cities Fire Authority, which services Oceano, Arroyo Grande, and Grover Beach, is still working on amending its joint powers agreement for fire coverage due to increasing expenses. The joint fire department that serves the communities of Oceano, Arroyo Grande, and Grover Beach got its final approval from Grover Beach on a memorandum of agreement for the 2018-19 fiscal year at a June 4 City Council meeting.

During public comment at the Board of Supervisors June 5 meeting, Oceano Community Services District Board President Karen White said that the county's efforts give Oceano confidence in moving forward with its pursuit of getting economical fire coverage from the Five Cities Fire Authority.

"We think the parallel effort is really positive, and we acknowledge there is a really great uncertainty as we go into funding and staffing and looking into another potentially very severe fire year to add to the stress," White said. Δ

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