Protesters battle against Arroyo Grande development
March 4, 2011
The development is slated to be built on a four-acre parcel on the corner of Courtland Avenue and East Grand Avenue in an area that includes a Spencer’s Fresh Market, a Cookie Crock Market and a Vons grocery store.
Critics of the development contend it will create traffic problems, goes against the general plan, the city would have to purchase water for the project and the area is already saturated with grocery stores.
Proponents of the development argue that having a residential area behind the retail development constitutes horizontal mixed use. Mixed use developments provide a combination of residential and commercial units.
An opponent of the development, Beatrice Spencer of Spencer’s Fresh Markets, contends that horizontal mixed use projects are supposed to be blended. When the Spencers agreed to convert a vacant building in Arroyo Grande into a Spencer’s Fresh Market, they did so with assurance from the city that the Courtland Place parcel would include courtyards and small size shops, Spencer said.
John Mack, an architect who was involved in developing the Berry Gardens Specific Plan Amendment that adopted guidelines for new developments, which was passed about four years ago, said that gate way mixed use is required to be two and three story buildings with a mix of residential and commercial.
“City staff is claiming that the height of the grocery makes it mixed use,” Mack said noting that it is not mixed use. “I am not happy about it because the design will allow 7,000 to 11,000 vehicle trips through our neighborhood a day.”
Another opponent of the project, Cookie Crocks owner Del Clegg, notes that grocery stores use a lot of water and that the city has been using 98 to 99 percent of their allotted water during the past few years.
Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams has been negotiating with Oceano Service District General Manager Raffaele Montemurro for the purchase of water from Oceano.
Pismo Beach has also shown interest in purchasing water from Oceano for developments. However, Pismo Beach is requiring developers proposing projects to pay for the purchase of water.
Montemurro said a month ago that he would recommend that Oceano sell water to Arroyo Grande for a lower price than Pismo Beach because he thinks Adams is a “good guy.” A few days ago, he said he will await word from the board before bringing another offer to the table.
He said that the price is not the only issue about selling water and noted that Arroyo Grande would also be offering to employ some of Oceano’s out-of-work job seekers.
The Arroyo Grande City Council is slated to vote on the proposed Courtland Place development on Tuesday, March 8.
Protesters are planning additional rallies for Monday at 5 p.m. at the Courtland site and on Tuesday at 5 p.m. in front of the Arroyo Grande City Hall.