EXCLUSIVE: Dalidio undeterred, full speed ahead
February 1, 2008
BY KAREN VELIE
An undeterred Ernie Dalidio will proceed with plans to develop his project on the southwest side of San Luis Obispo off Highway 101 following Thursday’s court decision to overturn Measure J.
“We are going to move ahead with the project,” Dalidio told UncoveredSLO.com today. “We are not going away.”
A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge tossed a momentary wrench into Dalidio’s plans to develop a 131-acre project incorporating residential, recreational, restaurants, retail, and a hotel. Judge Roger Picquet overturned a 2006 ballot initiative to authorize the project, one approved by voters by a 65-35 percent margin.
Opponents of the development, Citizens for Planning Responsibly (CPR) and the Environmental Center (ECOLSLO), claimed in their lawsuit that the project violates state laws and conflicts with the county’s general plan. Picquet ruled Measure J was not the proper subject for an initiative.
“The development has been given a message, said Rosemary Wilvert with Citizens for Planning Responsibly. “The development has to play by the rules like everyone. We are fine with Dalidio building a development as long as he plays by the rules.”
CPR and ECOSLO raised approximately $40,000 to cover their legal expenses. They are requesting the charges be reimbursed by the county, their lawsuit’s defendant, at their attorney’s going rate.
“So we got a good deal because they believe in our case,” Wilvert said. “They will be reimbursed at the going rate.”
Dalidio put Measure J on the ballot in an effort to speed along the development process.
Dalidio and his attorney Michael Morris are considering two options in response to Thursday’s ruling: either appeal Picquet’s decision or go through the county process. Morris expects the ruling to delay the project by approximately a year.
“Ernie’s view is that if two thirds of the people in this county thought this was a good project, we are going to move ahead with it,” Morris said. “It’s not always simple to get to the end of the road, but you get there.”
Opponents have battled against the development for almost 16 years.
The Downtown Association, one of Dalidio’s fiercest critics, was named along with Responsible County Development LLC in a civil suit alleging conspiracy and unlawful business practices by opponents of the Dalidio project. The lawsuit currently wends its way through the federal court system alleging five RICO counts.
According to Morris and Dalidio, the latest setback will have minimal effect on the finished project.
“I imagine we will go ahead and move ahead with this in the county,” Dalidio said. “We filed an EIR [environmental impact report] and we’ve already received the funding.”