State eyes Morro Bay commune for violations

October 21, 2013
Roandoak of God

Roandoak of God

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

A destination for the downtrodden on the outskirts of Morro Bay has been circumventing a variety of building codes and environmental regulations for more than four decades, and now an official of the California Coastal Commission is chiding county officials for the protracted paralysis.

Additionally, county officials’ options for correcting the problems appear to be very limited.

Catering to down-and-out residents, Roandoak of God has expanded over the years from its original, and permitted, use as a single-family residence, to a commune that often shelters more than 30 paying residents at a time. Its location on a quiet rural residential road disrupts the neighborhood, some say.

Originally a barracks building from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the structure  was moved to the Morro Bay site in the mid 1970s.

During the next 15 years, many permits were required of the facility as it grew, but few of those permits were ever actually applied for, or granted. Roandoak has been slated for destruction by county mandate on several occasions, but that has never happened.

Nancy Cave, the commission’s statewide enforcement supervisor, summarized findings of state investigators in an Oct. 3 letter to Nancy Orton, planning supervisor for the San Luis Obispo County Planning and Building Department.

“The interested parties now extend beyond” the county, Cave said.

Cave suggested county officials have largely ignored concerns of state officials ever since the latter began eying the Roandoak of God structure in 2010 “concerning various allegations of non-permitted development” on the property.

“We believe a major expansion and change in use occurred on the property in 1990 and the county failed to provide for us adequate information for approval of a coastal development permit,” Cave said.

Orton says the county is working with the state to resolve issues.

“As was stated in the Coastal Commission letter, ‘this is obviously a complicated case with a long history…’  and we are continuing to work with the Coastal Commission on resolving the issues.  I have no further comment at this time,” Orton said in an email.

District Two supervisor Bruce Gibson did not respond to CalCoastNews requests for comment on Roandoak, though he was a recipient of Cave’s letter.

CalCoastNews first reported on the Roandoak issue in Feb. 2009 (“Selective code enforcement: Is it ‘God’s will?’”) noting an “on-again, off-again campaign by San Luis Obispo County code enforcement officers to force Roandoak to comply with building codes — efforts which to date have met little success. A large, two-story building housing dozens of Roandoak residents is not now permitted, and never has been, according to county officials.”

Next-door neighbor Carrie Burton runs a small ranch with her husband and has for years been waging a battle against the non-permitted sprawl at Roandoak, and what she contends is severe degradation of the area’s underground water supply caused by the commune.

“Roandoak is an admittedly illegal, non-permitted land use with decades of expired permits and non-met conditions,” Burton wrote in an e-mail to former supervisor Jim Patterson in 2009. “The county’s own building code says Roandoak should be deemed a new project, with today’s codes, standards and permits. The county is presently insisting that Roandoak is ‘a single-family residence with a single kitchen.’ ”

At various times, local government regulators have demanded Roandoak officials meet environmental, structural, plumbing and electrical requirements.

Most demands were simply ignored, as were requirements for building permits for the building. There has been no approval of the commune’s domestic water supply, and now local water supplies are tainted with coliforms and nitrates. There are inadequate septic systems on the property. Also lacking is a detailed site plan, and provisions for parking, landscaping, and height restrictions, as required by law.

State investigators note that Roandoak — also known as Chorro Creek Training Center — was registered with SLO County as a fictitious business in Sept. 2002, but the license expired in 2007. An organization listed as the “Discipleship Institut” (sic) then registered the fictitious name “Chorro Creek Ranch” which expired in 2011. Articles of incorporation filed over the years have long been suspended.

According to Cave, there are “two basic paths… for correcting these violations.”

One is to “require the subject site be restored to its pre-1990 configuration and use.”

The second would be to go through the appropriate permitting process for all new additions to the structure since 1990.

That would require county hearings, coastal development permit approvals, and other processes, and “each path presents certain challenges,” Cave said. “Please inform me no later than Nov. 4, 2013, how the county intends to address resolution of these coastal development permit issues.”


39 Comments

  1. Rambunctious says:

    Roandoak has been in existence for decades and I’ve heard little if anything of any problems arising from there. That being said…I wouldn’t want to live next door to it. So I have not and would not buy property there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. JB Bronson says:

    Thanks Niles Q. Your visit and research confirms that the rules are being followed out there. CAPSLO and Dan Duvall would do well to follow that example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  3. Niles Q says:

    This story is horribly off base.
    I just came from the Ranch 15 minutes ago. Joseph Goodwin, the manager out there, was very nice, and open. He showed me all the rennovations that they’ve made, the new windows and doors, siding and paint. The place looks great.
    The photo used here is outdated and entirely misleading. Blackburn should have at the very least driven out there to see the place for himself and to take an up to date picture.Not doing this minimal amount of investigation is highly unprofessional and downright lazy.
    Goodwin said the 14 people who live out there right now are the “workig poor” as nearly all have jobs and some are disabled and in need of care.
    They are not the downtrodden, homeless nor degenerates. They are not criminals, nor are they Megan’s Listers. Goodwin said he screens everyone who asks to come live there. They are considered an “alternative living facility” under state law. The place is classified as a single family residence because the people share costs and meals like a family would.
    It is a religious based organization, they hold services out there and prayer meetings too. They also have parties occasionally and have live bands in the large common dining room.
    Goodwin showed me several County permits that were pulled and signed off on after being completed and inspected, so to say there’s never been permits for anything done out there is inaccurate at best and an outright lie in reality.
    The Coastal Commission has never issued a permit for anything done in that entire area. The area is listed as a non-appeal area so the County is responsible for all permitting out there, not the Coastal Commission.
    Goodwin said a guy is building a house down the road, another guy further up the valley is putting up a new barn and none of them had to go through the Coastal Commission. So why him? Because of the crazy person who lives next door. The hundreds of complaints, all the investigations of the place have originated with her.
    This crazy woman’s crazy husband shot Goodwin’s rat terrier dog. I wonder if she told Blackburn about that incident?
    She’s spread rumors that he is a criminal, a degenerate and liar and a fraud. Goodwin is an ordained minister and consultant to Fortune 500 companies. He is none of the things this woman has accused him of being. Period.
    She has been on a campaign of deliberate slander and misinformation for nearly 10 years and now she’s hoodwinked Cal Coast News.
    I used to think Blackburn was a good investigator, but given his work or lack of work on this story, I’m going to have to reevaluate my opinion not only of him but of this entire Website.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 26 Thumb down 12

    • mkaney says:

      Easy now… perhaps they seemed to report only one side of the story. But this website is clearly on the side of the underdog, and I would not be so quick to assume that the purpose was to condemn Roandoak as it was to highlight another attack on someone trying to provide a good service for the community.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

      • south says:

        If you heard the conversation on Congalton you would have heard the Roandoak contractor pretty much debunk much of what Dan wrote about as being fact. It certainly seems that Dan ran a story without contacting the other party. Pretty poor journalistic standards no?

        I would like to read a follow up article though. This time with the other side of the story. Then let the reader make up his or her mind.

        Also, this wouldn’t be the first time the CCC has jumped erroneously into a fray. I would be interested to see the County’s response to Ms. Cave’s letter. And I would guess that Ms. Burton’s own house did not get a permit from the CCC. So why does this house need one?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

        • south says:

          Oh – and I just checked out the link that Dan supplied to the last article he did on this story in 2009. Looks like he just had Carrie Burton’s point of view in that article too. Shame, shame Dan.

          It appears that maybe Niles Q. is correct in his opinion that Ms. Burton is the driver of this bus.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

        • ironyman2000 says:

          I interviewed Galen before Congalton was a gleam in his own eye.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • mkaney says:

      Unlike other news outlets, this one also tends to follow up its stories with new information rather than the hit and run tactics of major news agencies which serve to create impressions in the minds of the viewers despite factual information,

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

    • Dave says:

      If you have a problem with what’s happening to Joseph Goodwin, you should target your frustration against the Coastal Commission and not Dan Blackburn. What Blackburn reported in factually correct–the California Coastal Commission appears to be concerned by how SLO County is treating the commune. That’s the story. IN the long run, the CCC may back off, the allegations may prove to be unfounded, but Blackburn was correct in reporting this. By the way, the photo comes off of Mr. Goodwin’s web site.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

    • mbactivist1 says:

      Niles Q does not know what he is talking about. Goodwin is great at convincing people everything is fine, but if you do an in-depth investigation, you will find out exactly what Blackburn and the CCC did, and exactly what Blackburn reported.

      You will also find out that people who stay at Roandoak are treated pretty much the same way CAPSLO treats its clients. Talk to some of the ex-boarders from Roandoak and they will tell you what actually goes on there.

      As for the people next door, I know them. They are good people who have suffered a great deal from having to live next to Roandoak and dealing with all the problems there. The Sheriff is always out at Roandoak dealing with some kind of problem or another with one of the boarders. Some of those boarders are undoubtedly good people, but others are very clearly not. Otherwise, there would not be so many visits from the Sheriff. One of those recent visits was to deal with the misdeeds of a registered sex offender.

      The dog referred to by Niles is vicious and was going after one of the neighbors’ kids when the father had to rush out and protect his child. A bebe gun was used to frighten the dog off. The dog was not seriously hurt and there is some doubt as to whether it was even hit, although Goodwin claimed it was. The father defending his child was aiming at the dirt next to the dog, not at the dog. Several years ago, one of the neighbors’ visitors was bitten by a vicious dog from Roandoak.

      The neighbors finally had to put up an additional fence to protect their children and their home from the Roandoak problems. Do some more research, Niles, and you will find out that the truth is very different from what you were told.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

    • Word says:

      So Niles Q says: “I just came from the Ranch 15 minutes ago etc etc”

      So anonymous commenter is now anonymous investigator? Anonymous reporter? Anonymous inspector? Anonymous lawyer “a campaign of deliberate slander and misinformation”?

      Without a real name and a link to your articles and byline or anything, I call Bullshit. Another anonymous commenter trying to spin control his favorite issue..

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

      • slogazer says:

        Speaking of “real names”, does anyone know if Goodwin’s … is?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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