Archive for July, 2011
July 7th, 2011
Here is another story about it in the Tribune (the SLO paper)
I had heard about Dr. Marshall Lewis a few months before this article was published from one of his neighbors who is a also friend of my wife. These neighbors are generally sympathetic with Dr. Lewis, but they did say they thought that he was going a little overboard by suing some of the other neighbors.
I certainly sympathize with Dr. Lewis. It can drive you insane when you want to build a house that complies with every written law and building ordinance, and then some government official, based on nothing more than their personal opinion, refuses to issue the necessary permits.
It turns out that Marshall Lewis and his wife Cindy work down the street from me, so I went over and talked to them about their experience. They seemed bitter and angry, but not defeated. And they are figuring out what they can do to get even with the people who tormented them over building their house. Good luck to them.
UPDATE: On 4/20/2012 this article in the Cal Coast news talks about Marshall’s house and the Coastal Commission:
July 9th, 2011
Apparently the county made my environmental documents available for public review on June 16, 2011 – but I did find out about this until July 9, 2011 – and only then by accident. Here is the notification that SLO County put on their website:
July 18th, 2011
I got a package in the mail today from the SLO Planning Dept. consisting of about 150 pages which includes the Planning Commission agenda and the printed out Coastal Development permit.
Here is the Staff Report for the hearing.
July 22nd, 2011
Before the Planning Commission hearing on July 28th, 2011 we submitted a cover letter and some attachments that outline what we want the Planning Commission to do. Lenny Grant’s presentation is really nice.
Here is Lenny Grant’s Powerpoint presentation in .PDF form (aerial views, simulated viewshed, 3D drawings)
July 23rd, 2011
This is an argument that we have had multiple times with the Planning Dept. Each time we have this argument we think that they have finally accepted that Cave Landing is NOT Mallagh Landing, and then later we get some documentation from the Planning Dept indicating they have just ignored us – again. This time Ryan Hostetter has snuck the Mallagh Landing designation into the Staff Report for the Planning Commission. Maybe she hopes we won’t notice.
Here is what we say in our submittal to the Planning Commission:
In the Staff Report to the Planning Commission on the first Director’s Determination Appeal (August 26, 2010), Exhibit A (Findings), the staff states: “(B) Allowing the Ontario Ridge properties to receive public water from CSA-12 or the Avila Beach Community Services District would require a Local Coastal Plan amendment . .
..” In addition, the San Luis Bay Area Plan (Coastal) includes Table C (Special Districts – San Luis Bay Planning Area) in which the service areas of the Special Districts in the planning area listed, including the service area of CSA 12. The service area of CSA-12 is described as, “Port San Luis Harbor west of Avila Beach area, east Avila townsite, including Ontario Ridge (emphasis added) . . ..”
Based on the foregoing and other instances in County documents referring to the area, the staff has previously conceded that the property is properly styled either “Ontario Ridge” or “Pirates Cove” (and, occasionally, Cave Landing), not Mallagh Landing. The staff’s use of the Mallagh Landing term seems to arise for the first time in the current staff report.
Here is the San Luis Bay Plan pages 6-6 to 6-7 where the plan talks about Pirates Cove, Ontario Ridge, Cave Landing, and Mallagh Landing. From the text it is clear that Mallagh Landing is BELOW Cave Landing Road. My property (Cave Landing Ranch) is ABOVE Cave Landing Road.
Another part of the San Luis Bay Area plan that mentions Pirates Cove is on page 8-3. This shows the entire area as Pirates Cove, and doesn’t distingush which part is Mallagh Landing.
And finally there is this sentence from the San Luis Bay Area Plan, page 7-4:
Public Acquisition – Mallagh Landing. The State Department of Parks and Recreation, the county, or other appropriate agencies should accept the offer to dedicate Pirates Cove and Mallagh Landing.
The only land offered for dedication is lot #5. Lots #1-4 are not offered for dedication. My lot is #2. So there is no way that my lot is Mallagh Landing.
Why do we even care? Well, Mallagh Landing requires a Development Permit, but Ontario Ridge requires only a Minor Use Permit. Also I suspect that Ryan will try to argue in front of the Planning Commission that we made a mistake in applying for a Minor Use Permit, and that will justify her resetting our initial application date from June 10, 2010, as I describe here.
July 23rd, 2011
Here is the full Staff Report for the Planning Commission hearing on July 28th, 2011.
This is the original Project History as written by Ryan Hostetter:
“On August 26, 2010 the Planning Commission heard an appeal of a Planning Directors Determination regarding this property. Specifically this determination involved the use of public or community water service for this subject property which is outside the Urban Service Line, and permitting requirements for installation of infrastructure related to bringing the water to this property. The Planning Director determined that the property would need to be within the Urban Service Line to receive community water from County Service Area 12 (CSA-12), and the property owner appealed this decision to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission partially upheld the applicant’s appeal and made the determination that this property, while outside the Urban Service Line, is within the sphere of service of the water purveyor (CSA-12) and could receive water service without amending the General Plan maps to include the property within the Urban Service Area. The commission also determined that the permits necessary for the water line infrastructure shall be obtained, and therefore are a part of this Development Plan application.”
Here is my revised Project History, which more fairly characterizes the actual history of the project:
“On January 23, 2007 County Service Area 12 (CSA-12) issued a “will serve” letter for this property with the approval of then Planning Director Victor Holanda. In August 2009 the Board of Supervisors wheeled 4 acre feet of water per year to CSA-12 to be shared by this property.
On June 10, 2010 I applied for a Minor Use Permit to build a house on the property and submitted the “will serve” letter from CSA-12 as part of my application.
On June 16, 2010 then acting Planning Director Kami Griffin determined that the “will serve” letter was issued mistakenly by CSA-12, and, that in order to get water service, the Urban Service Line (USL) of Avila Beach Community Service District (ABCSD) would have to be moved to encompass the property, moving the property from CSA-12 to ABCSD. ABCSD would also have to agree to supply water, but not sewer or lighting service. Then a separate agreement would have to be negotiated between ABCSD and CSA-12 to wheel the water allocation from CSA-12 to ABCSD for the properties’ use. In addition, a General Plan amendment would have to be approved by both the Board of Supervisors and the Coastal Commission. After all that was done, the water utility pipeline could then be constructed in exactly the same place as was originally proposed to connect the property to CSA-12. This Determination was appealed.
On August 26, 2010 and again on September 9, 2010 the Planning Commission heard the appeal of the acting Planning Director’s Determination. The Planning Commission upheld the appeal and agreed that the property is within the sphere of service of CSA-12 and could receive water service without amending the General Plan/Local Coastal Program. In addition the Planning Commission found that it was environmentally superior for the property to use CSA-12 instead of the existing on-site well for potable water.”
Differences between the Project History versions:
My version emphasizes that the former Planning Director (Victor Holanda) agreed with the issuing of the “will serve” letter from CSA-12. I also point out that it has taken an extraordinary amount of time for the Planning Dept to process my application, and that there were TWO Planning Commission hearings. I also point out the convoluted (if not impossible) process that I would have to go though to get water as Kami Griffin decided. Finally, I point out that this is a Minor Use Permit application – not a Development Permit application.
July 25th, 2011
It turns out that there is a new Coastal Zone Framework for Planning, adopted in April 2011. Dave Watson only noticed when he went back to make sure that we had current copies of everything.
And what is the difference, you may well ask? Well, it turns out that the Planning Dept staff has completely deleted the section H part from the newer version. And so we finally have an explanation for why the Planning Dept delayed me for so long, and why they reset the dates on my application.
This is the part that they deleted:
Section 4-6 of the LCP Framework for Planning – Section H:
“The definitions of the sphere of influence and sphere of service lines correspond directly to the definitions of the Urban Reserve and Urban Services Lines (respectively) in the Land Use Element.”
July 28th, 2011
18 months after we went to get an over the counter permit to build a water utility pipeline to CSA-12, 13 months after we applied for a Minor Use Permit, 11 months after the Minor Use Permit application was deemed complete, we had the Planning Commission hearing to see if they would issue a permit. The result was a 5-0 vote in my favor.
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. We carefully practised our presentation. We gamed several different scenarios to handle whatever the Planning Dept threw at us. I spent the last few days beforehand just researching all the different rules in the LCP about USLs so that we could be ready no matter what happened.
But in the end it was very anti-climatic. All of the Planning Commissioners were very professional, and had done their homework. There was a no nonsense, efficient hearing process. I give most of that credit to the chairwoman Carlyn Christianson. She kept everything moving right along without being bossy or rude. She was also courteous to everyone, and it seemed to me that all of the Planning Commissioners got along and respected each other. This was a marked contrast to the first two Planning Commission hearings, where Ann Wyatt was a disgrace.
Dan O’Grady, as usual, asked some penetrating but fair questions. Ken Topping is particularly interested in geology, and had visited the site, and so he ended up asking questions about landslides. Fortunately, Lenny had insisted that our main Geologist, Rick Gorman, attend the hearing. Rick was terrific in explaining the different types of landslides in the area, the different formations, and why one historical landslide was not a problem, but why the landslide on lot #3 was actually very serious.
Jim Irving really loved Lenny’s design of the house, and said so. He asked to see the house when it was finished. I told him to Google “Tom Kundig”, the Seattle based architect that has so inspired Lenny and me.
Sherri Danoff was the only outside person to speak, and she just went over the letter that AVAC had submitted to the Planning Dept about their concerns. The Planning Commissions listened, and then told her straight out that they didn’t share her concerns, and that was that.
And most interestingly, the Planning Dept staff behaved themselves. James Caruso never showed up at all, Kami Griffin sat quietly and never said a single word. And Ryan Hostetter was downright helpful. I am amazed. I wish I could know what is going on inside the Planning Dept now.
That being said, we are now gearing up for the inevitable Coastal Commission appeal. I like our chances, but this project is still a long way from getting the final building permits, and bad stuff could happen.