Price Canyon Project approved by Pismo Beach
March 3, 2011
Pismo Beach City Council voted unanimously to move ahead on the first stage of annexing land designated for a proposed Price Canyon development at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
City officials voted 5-0 to approve a memorandum of agreement that also requires approval by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.
The approved proposal included the removal of the 530-acre Spanish Springs property located at the north side the proposed project that was slated to include a 124-acre vineyard, a winery, a 40-unit lodge and 44 homes. The reduction changed the area of the proposed developments to approximately 1,200 acres, comprising of two separate development projects.
The larger project, owned by an investment group managed by West Coast Housing, spans 950 acres and is slated to include 468 homes, a nine-hole golf course, conference center, wine center, vineyards, trails and open space.
The 258-acre Big Bird ranch property owners are working toward constructing 194 residences on their property, which is slated to include trails and parks.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, supporters and opponents of the projects spoke out about the potential transformation to the city if the proposal is ultimately approved.
Several opponents of the projects have voiced concerns that the cost of the development, including road upkeep, utility lines to the project and fire and police services, will fall on the backs of Pismo Beach residents should the annexation of unincorporated Price Canyon be approved.
However, both county and city employees said that owners of the projects are required by law to pay for infrastructure. In addition, the cost of public services including police and fire are to be paid by property taxes.
Another concern that opponents raised is road maintenance and expansion of U.S Highway 101 to six lanes. The environment impact report (EIR) says that the developers have to help pay for a study of the highway and key local and state roads impacted by the projects.
Critics of the project point out the EIR also says the study would identify potential funding options such as multi-agency funding and a regional sales tax.
“They have developed a draft EIR and specific plan,” said Jon Biggs, the community development director for Pismo Beach. “You cannot properly address and project in draft form.”
Biggs said the city expects the developers to show how the two projects will pay for themselves.
“The developers will have to have a reliable, sustainable and adequate water supply that doesn’t create rate increases for other residents,” Biggs said. “We will not approve water that would have a cost to current residents. They shouldn’t be shouldered with increased costs.”
Purchasing water does appear to be the projects’ largest obstacle. Several of the builders are looking at water sources, including surplus water in Oceano and Carpenteria.
West Coast Housing partners has been working to contract for a reliable water source.
Nevertheless, because the Big Bird property is closer to the city than the back two portions of the West Coast Housing properties, it is unlikely that those back properties will be annexed without the owners of Big Bird also having a reliable water source.
“Likely not because Big Bird is part of the specific plan so Big Bird would have to have a documented water supply,” said LAFCO Executive Officer David Church, who noted that the players have changed over time.
John King and Rick Loughead recently sold or transferred their ownerships in the properties to West Coast Housing partners.
Calls to Castle Rock Development, associated with the Big Bird property, asking for information about water sources were not returned.