Posted inGovernment

May Meeting of NCAC to Address Water Use Development and Fire Insurance Cancellation

Local citizens are aware that at least two major and increasing concerns – water use and fire protection are connected and increasingly problematic.  Both concerns have been the subjects of recent news.

     In the case of water-using development, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) recently issued a demand as a formal Notice of Violation that the County and Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) no longer accept permit applications for any new water-using development.  In its letter to the County, the CCC wrote that it considers all new water-using development to be guesthouses; hotel, motel, or home expansions; accessory dwelling units; and any development that would “lead to an increase in water use on a given site.”

     In its Notice of Violation to the CCSD, the CCC not only enjoined the District to stop issuing “will-serve” letters for any new water-using development but also to retract will-serve letters for properties that lack a Coastal Development Permit.  The CCSD has indicated, however, that it has a legal obligation to serve water to certain properties due to contractual water-service commitments for development put in place before the moratorium of 2001.  

     At the May NCAC meeting, Wednesday May 18, at 6:00 p.m., a public discussion will be convened on the current status regarding the CCC’s Notice.  The NCAC will not take a specific position on the issue, as the CCSD, the County, and the CCC already have expressed their positions.  This will be an opportunity for the public to learn about and discuss the issues, as water use and fire protection will continue to have a major impact on our community.

     The other concerning element in the news related to water is the increasing number of cancellations of fire insurance policies, especially in the agricultural and business sectors within the North Coast area.  To follow up on this, NCAC is planning to have a presentation by a fire insurance industry expert at the June meeting, together with an update on current status and projections.

Posted inHealth

North Coast Residents Voice Concerns about Fire Insurance Cancellations

One of the growing concerns in the community is the increasing number of fire insurance policies cancellations, especially in the agricultural and business sectors within the North Coast area.  At the most recent NCAC monthly meeting in April, members heard from local agricultural and business representatives about the increasing number of fire insurance cancellations and/or huge increases in policy prices.

     Mike Broadhurst, owner of Dragon Spring Farms, reported that a number of farmers have had to go to the FAIR California state-supported insurance fund for insurance, and Aaron Linn of Linn’s Restaurants and Farm Store indicated that Linn’s has had to close or consolidate some of their business operations because of insurance costs.

     In examining the reasons for the escalating fire insurance costs and cancellations, NCAC contacted an expert in the field of fire insurance for background information.  He indicated that this cost increase began in earnest in early 2019, when much of the County went into the “Extreme” category on the fire map.  This caused the re-insurance market to begin dropping clients.  While the State entered the market (with the California FAIR program) a number of clients were still dropped, and others saw increases of up to 600 percent their previous insurance policy costs.  

     Currently, this increased cost applies mainly to rural areas that are outside an urban boundary where hydrants and local fire service are available.  Cambria and San Simeon are both considered non-rural in this context.  As the fire insurance specialist indicated, this is a fluid situation, but it is most likely to be exacerbated as the drought situation worsens.

     Non-renewal of home insurance policies can leave low-income residents particularly vulnerable.  When insurance companies drop policies, homeowners often are left with two options:  to proceed without insurance or enroll in the State’s FAIR plan.  The plan is expensive in comparison to other alternatives and does not provide as much coverage.  The plan covers only the costs that a fire, lightning, storm, or other disaster causes to the home’s structure.  Homeowners are required to pay more to get coverage for personal belongings, unattached structures, such as garages or fences, or additional living expenses that the disaster might prompt, such as staying in a hotel.

     The next monthly meeting of the NCAC will be on Wednesday, May 18, at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.  The Zoom invitation can be found on the NCAC website (ncacslo.org).