Archive for September, 2011
September 1st, 2011
Dave Watson heard from someone down at SLO County that my permit was appealed by the Coastal Commission to the Coastal Commission. And no, that wasn’t a typo. Any two members of the Coastal Commission can decide, on their own, to appeal any decision of a local agency (like SLO County) to the Coastal Commission, where the permit can be denied or additional conditions imposed. To give you an idea of what the Coastal Commission is like, here is a recent article:
I haven’t received any notification myself yet, which is curious, since the time limit for filing a Coastal Commission appeal has expired. I am supposed to get notification in the mail if my permit was appealed during the 10 working days after the Coastal Commission was notified by SLO County that my permit was approved there.
I expect to win the appeal – but it adds many tens of thousands of dollars to my costs and delays me at least another two months, if not more.
I am sure that the Planning Dept of SLO County arranged this to happen through their friends on the staff at the Coastal Commission.
September 2nd, 2011
Finally, on Friday, September 2, 2011 I got the official letter from the California Coastal Commission about my permit approvals from SLO County being appealed to the Coastal Commission. And who appealed my permits? Why the Coastal Commission itself.
In the letter the Coastal Commission informed me that my house can’t be built because it fails the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) in five broad categories. Inside each of these five categories there are multiple reasons, any one of which, if true, will make it absolutely impossible for me to build my house.
The five categories are 1) Outside the USL, 2) Scenic Viewshed, 3) Archaeologically Sensitive Area, 4) Geologically Hazardous, and 5) Environmentally Sensitive Habitat. Amazingly, tt turns out that this former cattle ranch is actually the only known place in the world where unicorns can frolic! (This is a writing technique I sometimes use called “sarcasm” to highlight the absurd).
The letter from the Coastal Commission is here:
To say that I am discouraged is putting it mildly. The two Coastal Commission members who signed the appeal are just window dressing – the real appeal came from a Coastal Commission staffer named Jonathan Bishop, who in turn is actually acting on behalf of the SLO Planning Dept. When the Planning Dept lost in front of their own Planning Commission back in September, 2010, they then lined up the staff at the Coastal Commission to kill my house. Here are the Planning Dept staff emails where they discuss doing this.
The “Reasons for Appeal” in the Coastal Commission letter are for the most point common boilerplate that they use to screw with everybody – but they do spend some time repeating the same argument that the SLO Planning Dept staff tried and failed with earlier, and Jonathan Bishop doesn’t bother giving my side of the story.
Jonathan is also the Coastal Commission staff person who will write up the staff report for my eventual hearing in front of the Coastal Commission.
My Coastal Commission appeal number is A-3-SLO-11-061
September 11th, 2011
The Coastal Commission has this rule that says that when your project gets appealed to the Commission you are entitled to a hearing within 49 days to see if there is any merit to the appeal. However, you have an option to sign a waiver to this 49 day time limit.
I thought that getting a hearing within 49 days was a good idea – until I talked to my lawyer Greg Sanders. What Greg explained is that if I don’t sign this waiver I will almost certainly lose at the Coastal Commission – and I won’t even get a chance to rebut anything that the Coastal Commission staff has in their report. So the 49 day time limit is a farce. It only means that you can lose in 49 days – you can never win. Nice.
September 14th, 2011
Once a year the Public Works Dept gives a report on what has happened in the previous year in the Avila Beach area. One part of their report is on how many building permits were issued. In order to get a building permit you first have to get a minor use permit through the Planning Dept, so this is a good gauge of how much work the Planning Dept does. So for the period from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, in the Avila area, which has Ryan Hostetter as a full time planner, the entire list of building permit issued is here:
One single family residential permit was issued during the entire year.
That’s it. No commercial buildings, no office building, no barns, just one single family house permit. And it wasn’t my permit, that’s for sure – because I am now going through the potentially years long Coastal Commission permit appeal process before I can even apply for a building permit.
How can the Planning Dept justify taking so long to process my minor use permit? It isn’t like they are doing a lot of other permits.
September 16th, 2011
I attended a meeting the Avila Valley Advisory Council on Monday and Elizabeth Kavanaugh gave a presentation about the county’s plans for a park at Cave Landing. I called Elizabeth, and today she returned my call and emailed me a copy of the county’s plans.
Proposed Cave Landing Park and Bike Path. (about 4.5 Meg PDF).
September 26th, 2011
I get asked this question all the time by people who have read my blog. They assume that I must have done some horrible thing to piss off somebody at SLO County, or on the Coastal Commission, or somewhere. How else could you explain all the ridiculous things that have gone on during my efforts to get a simple building permit?
But, no, I am sad to say that I haven’t done anything to anyone. And I have no idea why I am getting treated this way.
So let me repeat – as God is my witness I have no idea why the Planning Dept of San Luis Obispo County has been screwing with me every chance they get.
I hold out the faint hope that maybe, just maybe, the Coastal Commission staff will treat me fairly. After all, how could they be holding some sort of grudge against me? As far as I know I have never even seen them before, let alone done something to piss them off.
September 27th, 2011
A year and a half after the water well on the property was drilled I got a letter from the SLO County Health Agency saying that the well was no good. Specifically the well did not meet Section 19.20.236 b. This is the well is bad letter.
The problem is that there is no Section 19.20.236 b. So I called the Public Health Dept a couple of times, and finally got the right person on the phone, who then put me on hold while she walked into her supervisor’s office (Richard J. Lichtenfels). I guess Richard finally read the letter that he had signed, because she came back on the phone and said that actually everything was perfectly fine with my well. Having dealt with SLO County for this long I asked her to send me a letter confirming that. Today I got the letter saying the the well is good. Here is the well is good letter.