Summary of Events
This is the chronological list of all most important events during the years leading up to a California Coastal Commission hearing on the appeal of my minor use permit to build my single family house in Avila Beach, CA. This represents over three years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.
(Clicking on each date will give you more detailed information.)
August 2007 – The sale of the five parcels at Cave Landing to the “Trust For Public Land”, to be in turn dedicated to SLO County, falls apart due to some behind the scenes work by the SLO Planning Dept staff. This would have preserved Cave Landing as open space permanently at no cost to the public.
August 2009 – My realtor shows me the property at Cave Landing. My wife and I decide to buy one of the lots to build a house to live in after I retire. We end up doing a complicated Option/Purchase agreement with the seller that culminates in our closing escrow in July 2012. We also lease three other lots at Cave Landing for agricultural use for the next 10 years.
February 2010 – I drill a water well on my property at Cave Landing. The SLO Planning Dept declares in my permit application that my well can never be used for domestic water, and that I must get a “will serve” letter from my community water system (which is CSA 12).
March 2010 – The acting SLO Planning Dept director Kami Griffith rejects an encroachment permit to build a water pipeline underneath a road that would connect the CSA 12 pipeline to my property at Cave Landing. Kami says that I must modify the LCP to move out of CSA 12 to and into Avila Beach CSD (which is impossible) in order to get water from CSA 12. This is the beginning of my nightmare to get a permit to build my house.
June 2010 – I apply for a minor use permit to build my house at Cave Landing with a “will serve” letter from CSA 12 for water. This sets up a Catch-22 situation - the SLO Planning Dept says that I can’t use my water well because I am in CSA 12, and I can’t use CSA 12 because I have to be in Avila Valley CSD, and so I have to get the LCP modified to move from CSA 12 to Avila Valley CSD, but Avila Valley CSD doesn’t have any water to allocate to me. So even though I have a water well AND a “will serve” letter from the community water system that my property is in, I cannot build my house because I have no legal water source (according to the SLO Planning Dept).
July 2010 – The Coastal Commission conditionally modifies the LCP to delete a paragraph that I am depending on that equates the border of CSA 12 to a USL. No public notice was given, and no notice was given to me. This was all done by Ryan Hostetter of the SLO Planning Dept with help from James Orton and approved by Jonathan Bishop of the Coastal Commission staff. This specifically disadvantages me and it affects no one else. Here is where I try to find out what happened.
August 2010 - The local Avila Valley Advisory Council approves my house on an 11-1 vote during my first public hearing. No member of the public objects.
August 2010 - The SLO Planning Commission approves my use of CSA 12 water by a 4-1 vote during my second public hearing. No member of the public objects.
September 2010 - The SLO Planning Commission has a second hearing on my use of CSA 12 water. I win again on a 4-1 vote. This is my third public hearing. No member of the public objects.
February 2011 – During a meeting with the SLO County staff, James Orton tells me “Well, you didn’t really win at the Planning Commission, and you are not going to win at the Coastal Commission”.
March 2011 - The SLO Planning Dept delays issuing or denying my minor use permit past the mandatory time limits of CEQA. I later discover this was because they needed the extra time to certify a deleted paragraph in the LCP to specifically disadvantage me.
April 2011 – The Coastal Commission certifies the new LCP that deletes the paragraph that I was depending on that equates the border of CSA 12 to a USL. No notice was ever given publicly that this change was happening, and I was never informed. This makes my case in front of the Coastal Commission much more difficult. James Orton knew this was going to happen during my February 2011 meeting with him and he did not inform me of the pending change.
July 2011 – My minor use permit finally comes up in front of the SLO Planning Commission. I win on a 5-0 vote. This is my fourth public hearing. No member of the public objects, however two members of AVAC ask that the telecom cell tower easement road up my hill be removed.
September 2011 – My minor use permit from SLO County is appealed by Coastal staff Jonathan Bishop to the California Coastal Commission.
December 2012 – The Coastal Commission staff finally issues a report after a year and a half saying that my house should be approved, however with “Special Conditions” that make it all but impossible to build. They require that I must remove all fences and allow free access to the public to my entire property, and that my house be hidden from view from any public area, including the street in front of my house.
January 2012 – My first Coastal Commission hearing is scheduled for January 10th, 2013 in Pismo Beach CA.
My conclusion is that the staff of both SLO County and the Coastal Commission have had a multiyear effort using delay, acess to water, and unrealistic visual impact requirements to prevent any use of the lots at Cave Landing by the property owners. In the end, this is about money and who actually controls public policy in SLO County.