The Morro Bay City Council voted May 6 to re-up two assessment districts used to pay for upkeep of parklands in their respective subdivisions.

Every year since 1996, the City has charged homeowners along Toro Lane $564 a year to provide money for the maintenance of the North Point Natural Area and street lighting on the lane.

The $5,640 total assessments is the same amount as was first levied for the 10-lot subdivision on property that once housed the Point Motel, which caught fire and was destroyed in the early 1990s.

The City annually does an engineer’s report on the maintenance costs/needs at the park and to legally justify the assessment district. “The cost estimates are based on the maintenance standards currently adhered to in existing parks within Morro Bay,” reads a staff report, “and included in the Flat Rate Manual for Parks Maintenance, as well as maintenance costs from the current fiscal year.”

Though costs have gone up every year, the Natural Area is cheap to maintain. “Personnel costs, as well as supplies and services, have risen significantly in the last several years,” according to the City. “However, due to the small acreage, natural landscaping, minimal street lighting, and little irrigation in the assessment district, the assessment amount collected is currently adequate to cover the costs of maintenance.”

The council vote starts a waiting period that will end June 23 when the Council holds a public protest hearing and vote.

That’s when homeowners can oppose the assessments, though the district is embedded in the home’s conditional use permit and therefore would be hard to get rid of without violating terms of the original permits, reducing the assessment district votes to mere formalities.

The City’s other assessment district, for the Cloisters subdivision, is considerably more expensive and covers maintenance of Cloisters Park and pedestrian/bike lanes that wind through the property.

It also covers maintenance of several large, landscaped, traffic islands, street lighting, open space areas, and a small pond, as well as a playground, restroom and more. The district covers 27.75 acres of park and open space.

Cloisters’ assessment district also began in 1996 and charges $1,241 per parcel or some $148,900 total. While costs for this work too has risen over time, the City said, “due to increased efficiency in the service delivery originally provided in district, the City has been able to maintain the facilities and accrue an accumulation,” the same conclusion drawn for the North Point A.D. There are some 120 lots covered in the Cloisters assessment district and should a small, 5-lot subdivision proposed for a vacant 1-acre lot at Coral and San Jacinto be approved, those lots would be added to the assessment district, because that lot was part of the original subdivision’s 124 lots (three are left in open space and one — encompassing the coastal dunes — went to State Parks.

The vacant acre at Coral and San Jacinto was originally deeded to the City for a new firehouse, but the City chose to replace its firehouse on Harbor Street and sold the lot as excess property for some $650,000. The public hearing for Cloisters is also set for June 23.