Protesters battle against Arroyo Grande development

March 4, 2011

Protesters holding signs lined up along Grand Avenue in Arroyo Grande to protest the proposed Courtland Place Development on Thursday evening.

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.

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“Boo Hoo, traffic you say? Too many stores already?” and “When was the last time they travel Los Osos Valley Road around the new stores, and more is coming still.” Okay, we get it, to you, increased traffic impacts and too many stores shouldn’t be a factor in planning or allowing more building? And just because another area has allowed poor planning doesn’t mean that another area should encourage more of the same? I hope that not too many people share your lack of vision for how a community should regulate what happens in their own neighborhood.

Apparently my comment was taken out of context, yes the community should have a say if its for and by all the right reasons and not some developer who only thinks about making a buck. Regarding LOVR, I find it hard to believe anybody in that vicinity wanted the traffic or impact associated with what to me a clusterxxxx to get thru and there’s more traffic on the way when Target opens. Who approved this mess, Id have to quGstion if it was the residents. So why not build in Oceano to lessen the impact of an already nightmarish grand Ave?

Grocery stores are fairly unique as far as the retail environment goes; the “goods” (groceries) are not an item that people can decide to do without if they don’t feel like it, EVERYONE has to buy food, somewhere. That said, you can’t just make an arbitrary decision about where to locate one; you need to have a built-in demand with a large enough population to support your store. A person who builds a grocery store without making those considerations will not be in business very long since they operate at such a high overhead/low profit situation. I have no idea if the community of Oceano could support a Food 4 Less, but I would guess that the parent company of Food 4 Less has studied the feasibility of locating there. As for Arroyo Grande, the situation is polar opposite, grocery store saturation. If any more are built in the immediate area, all of the surrounding stores will suffer and possibly one or two would go out of business if they cannot retain their volume of business. For the particular project in A.G., the traffic situation as I understand it is that when there are more trucks pulling up to unload than there is room to park on the lot or in the dock area, those extra, very large vehicles will have to pull through the residential neighborhood because they cannot turn around. No one not living on a major arterial street would want a traffic situation like that on their streets if it can be avoided, which is what the residents are trying to prevent. As for LOVR, clusterf*ck indeed it is; I would assume that many living in the Laguna area never envisioned the traffic that is now the problem on LOVR, and the city planners and officials were supposed to be having ALL of the projects pay into an improvement fund for the 101 overpass to help alleviate the traffic that is the problem. Not sure if that ever happened though.

Boo Hoo, traffic you say? Too many stores already? What you mean to say is competition will take away sales from already established overpriced markets. When was the last time they travel Los Osos Valley Road around the new stores, and more is coming still. Food 4 less should tell AG to pound sand and build the store in Oceano. An area far more in need of tax revenue and jobs.