County rebuffs California Coastal Commission
November 11, 2013
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
County planners have snubbed California Coastal Commission (CCC) investigators in an ongoing dispute over permit requirements for a controversial Morro Bay commune.
Acting Planning Director Kami Griffin, responding to a formal complaint from the state agency, stated flatly in a Nov. 1 letter that Roandoak of God’s “present use… is consistent with applicable land use regulations.”
That opinion contrasts starkly with that of state officials.
Nancy Cave, supervisor for the CCC’s Statewide Enforcement Program, said recently that county officials have largely ignored building codes and coastal requirements for the Roandoak of God structure, asserting she has received “various allegations of non-permitted development” on the property. Cave said the non-permitted changes have been taking place since 1990.
Nevertheless, Roandoak of God’s owner has been able to rally county officials to support his efforts, and planners as well as County Supervisor Bruce Gibson now maintain there are no problems with the property. Shortly after an earlier CalCoastNews article on Roandoak was posted, a clutch of maintenance trucks from Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) arrived at the site and disgorged a small army of workers to cleanup the property.
Griffin insisted in a letter to Cave that all requirements have been met by the county.
“In the meantime,” Griffen wrote, “we are continuing to work with this particular property owner as building permits are applied for assure compliance…with county requirements. If at any point in the future, the Roandoak property owner submits a proposal for a new use other than a single family residence, we will evaluate that.”
Cave struck a more conciliatory tone.
“There is dialogue regarding some issues to be resolved,” Cave told CalCoastNews. “Once such issue has to do with proper noticing of proposed building changes.”
The CCC is reviewing the county’s response to its Oct. 5 letter “and discussing what to do next,” Cave said.
The Roandoak facility was destined to be demolished, and that was what prospective buyers were told when considering the purchase of adjoining properties.
But the building not only survived several demolition orders, but has expanded to the point where it can now host as many as 30 residents at a time.
The property’s owner, Joseph Goodwin, calls himself “The Apostle” and claims that his establishment is “a religious organization.”
Goodwin has hired Morro Bay attorney Susan McElhinney.
“Mr. Goodwin has been faithfully complying with all county codes and requirements since he became the Presiding Apostle of the Roandoak of God,” the attorney wrote in a letter to the CCC. “He has removed, at considerable expense, literally tons of scrap material, and has been continually upgrading and improving the property, all in conjunction with county approvals and permit.”
Neighbors Mike and Carrie Burton purchased their adjacent property and now run a small ranch. The Burtons have been in a running battle with Goodwin regarding the property’s use, and have produced evidence that well water in the Chorro Creek basin is being contaminated by Roandoak residents.
Carrie Burton has methodically gathered documented evidence demonstrating that Roandoak of God is not in compliance with existing law.
“Roandoak is an admittedly illegal, non-permitted land use with decades of expired permits and non-met conditions,” Burton said. “The county’s own building code says Roandoak should be deemed a new project, with today’s codes, standards and permits.”
Goodwin’s attorney, McElhinney, disputed Burton’s voluminous body of evidence.
“Your informant in this matter has willfully misinformed you as to the nature and use of the property known as the Roandoak of God,” McElhinney wrote to Cave.
“Facts are facts,” Burton replied.