Homeless booted from Sunny Acres—including daughter of Maxine Lewis

August 30, 2011

More than a dozen homeless people left the Sunny Acres sober living facility in San Luis Obispo last Sunday—including the adult daughter of local homeless advocate Maxine Lewis.

The Sunny Acres residents were asked to leave by rancher Dan DeVaul following a court order by Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall, threatening to take control of the Los Osos Valley Road facility if people continued to live in what the county deemed unsafe structures.

Crandall made no provision in his order for where the homeless people are supposed to find shelter.

Among the residents ejected was Linda Lewis. Her late mother was a long-time, fervent champion of local homeless causes and the county eventually acknowledged Maxine Lewis’ work by naming the Orcutt Road overnight homeless facility in her honor.

“It makes me ill,” said one Sunny Acres volunteer, when asked about Linda Lewis’ forced departure.

DeVaul is due back in court in September.


As a former volunteer for homeless causes, I got disillusioned by the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about…. That the overwhelming majority of the people I encountered were homeless by choice.

DeVaul is no hero. As has been reported, he makes money off of his “tenants”. He thumbs his nose at any laws or regulations concerning safety and upkeep. I ask his supporters one simple question… Would you have any qualms about having sex offenders, parolees and the mentally ill crammed into the property next door to you? Talk about the true NIMBY’s.

Craigslist is filled with job offers and rooms for rent. If someone wants to adopt a lifestyle of laziness and chooses not to contribute to society, I have no sympathy for them or DeVaul.

One more thing. So Linda Lewis’ is a local mini celeb because her mother was also homeless? All that tells me is the lazy apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Trust me, we are not talking about the Charles Dickens garden variety homeless. 85% are perfectly able to work. They simply choose not to.

Let the thumbs down votes begin.


Hey, what’s really bothering you? DeVaul has more money than you and me together. What do you think the Jews paid for that prime acreage he sold to ’em? He could break up even more land (I think it’s in the works now) and bank bongo bucks. He ain’t doing it for the money.

Even if he is making a paultry sum don’t you think he’s earned it? The county would be costing you and me big bucks for harboring care.

Have you heard about drugs/alcohol having a propensity of addicting human beings?

Yeah, some are creatures of bad habits but in the 21st century we help them out so as to have a less detrimental effect on all of us, not accuse, degrade and then what? You shouldn’t have been working with them with that attitude. Work on it.


Christine Mullholland is at the root of all this, and doesn’t like homeless people ruining her multi-million dollar view. She says NIMBY (not in my back yard) and all this blows up. The problem with her plan is DeVaul – the only person capable of standing up to the bureaucrats, and the only person capable of handling these hardened homeless people with any real results.

Note to DeVaul: Start up a donation account at a local bank. I’ll pitch in. Play their game and beat the bureaucrats at their own game. Get the permits and keep going.


Oh please… maybe I should escape reality and visit you in never-never-lane.


Thanks for discussing the issues, rogerfreberg! Where is your proposal to solve the problem? I proposed a way forward, you chose to insult me. Good on ya!


IMHO, this entire sordided episode could have been prevented, if Mr. DeVaul had stepped up and gotten the required permits, followed the codes for health, building safety and sanitation.

Many organizations both private and public help the homeless every year all over the country, they do obey the laws, and still provide a safe place as well as gather donations to pay for a majority of what they offer.

Mr. DeVaul is a an outlaw who by his own admission over the years, liked to operate outside the law and ignored the many chances he had to bring his “ranch” up to reasonable health and safety standards.


TQ: prisons house multiple sex offenders together all the time; perhaps you should send them your article and they can rethink their housing policy. DeVaul let those who could not pay, live rent free and work off their room and board. Kind of like your ancestors did in the 1800s. It’s called bartering.

You call them poor. How do you personally define poor? Are those “sex offenders” poor people by your definition or is there a special adjective you use just for them?

The judge didn’t provide solution to their plight. They are right now, as I type this, shivering under a bridge somewhere. No matter how you sugar coat his decision, it violated the definition of compassion. Take away our compassion, our empathy, our civility and we are truly doomed.


I addressed the prison issue earlier. Prisons aren’t known has healthy environments for sex offenders or anyone for that matter.

I called them poor because I feel that they’re being taken advantage of and I hate to see anyone that’s being taken advange of. If DeVaul is that concerned for them he could direct them to resources where they could be living in better conditions as well as getting help for any addictions that they might have. DeVaul could set them up in apts., pay for them to work for him and still get them counseling if he’s simply doing all this out of the goodness of his heart. He could do this at no expense to himself.

It’s not the judges place to tell them what to do, his job is to enforce the law. I know it doesn’t sound warm and fuzzy but that’s just the way it is.



You said, “If DeVaul is that concerned for them he could direct them to resources where they could be living in better conditions as well as getting help for any addictions that they might have.”

Question: What resources should DeVaul direct them to? The county does not have the resources, which is why Sunny Acres was founded to begin with. If there was any way that “DeVaul could set them up in apts., pay for them to work for him and still get them counseling…at no expense to himself”, it would have happened long ago.

The fact remains that, unless something changes in the next few hours, most of these people will be sleeping outside tonight.


Instead of charging them rent he could have used that money to put them into apartments. He could find 3 bedroom apts and at least 3 people could live together. He charges $500.00 a month. For 1,500.00 they could have a damn nice apartment so I’m sure they could get one for even less. There are drug and alcohol programs through the county that they could get in to. Why can’t they continue to use the resources he’s providing now for rehap if they move out? If they can’t get apartments because of their lack of credit and if DeVaul is really that concerned then he could co sign the leases. He could still help them if that’s truly his only motive.

It’s surprising how many programs the state, the county and even some churches have to help people out. The big shortage is with housing. Sadly DeVaul didn’t look for housing for these people so you’re right, they’re probably out on the outside tonight.


I really hope every one of the county personnel who facilitated everything from DeVaul’s charges, jail time, court appearances, code enforcement, all go to hell. This is a perfect example of a complete waste of our tax dollars just to push their stinking agendas. If the stupid county took half of all that was spent on the vindictive witch hunt and helped DeVaul get up to code to house some of these people, wouldn’t that have been the feel good solution? Instead, kick them all to the street and enjoy your stinking pensions. You are all a bunch of corrupt %^&$holes anyway. I pray all your pension funds go bankrupt and you are all on the street. I would gladly spit on your faces.


It would be nice, Typo, if you had any evidence to back up your assertions. In truth, the record of Sunny Acres has been pretty good for the last decade. No resident was ever injured or killed. No reports of sexual offenses. Both Sheriff Hedges and Sheriff Parkinson felt confident enough in the program that they personally supported it — Hedges even arranged for DeVaul to take specific homeless people. The assertion that he is a slum landlord is Christine Mullholland propaganda designed to put a good man in a bad light.

Bottom line: Where do these people go now? Where are they going to be any safer? Judge Crandall could have used his judicial authority to intervene, supervise the repair of Sunny Acres, and keep the people safe. He opted to boot the homeless. Heaven help the Ivy-league Judge.


I thought that I coined the ‘slum landlord’ handle. I don’t know much about Christine M. other than she lives near there. I made that judgement all by myself.

The county has tried to help DeVaul, he has not cooperated.


I wish I had something profound or funny to say here, but there is nothing profound or funny about the whole Sunny Acres situation. Why is it that on one hand, there were county agencies dropping people off at Sunny Acres, and then there are other county agencies that were so determined to shut the place down? It would certainly make more sense to me to have the County of San Luis Obispo invest in cleaning up Mr. DeVaul’s property, to help him build some acceptable structures and help him help those that the County knows full well need some help. Judge Crandall certainly seems to be lacking in some basic humanity; I will not wish him any ill will, I would ask him, assuming that he is a Christian, where would he think Jesus would send those living at Sunny Acres. I don’t think it would be under a bridge.


Perhaps Judge Crandall would be willing to take Linda Lewis into his house. I’m sure he’s got plenty of room.

This is SO disgusting. This judge is heartless.


Hey, I’m sure if the judge makes Linda Lewis pay rent to him like DeVaul did and work for either free or next to free on his ranch then perhaps the judge would also take her in. The judge isn’t heartless, he’s following the law.


A heartless law.


I think the only way for Judge Crandall to fairly be able to “judge” in this case is for for him to live as a true homeless person for a month. 30 days on the street, begging for change, living cold nights under a bridge. Then and only then would he have the knowledge to fairly judge this case.

This is a very sad reflection on our society. We care more about code violations than humanity. What have we done?


It’s hard to figure the sense in any of this. I worked with Maxine in late ’69 thru ’73 or so, she is a true hero and champion of the forgotten people. Kicking people out of Sunny Acres and into the unknown is madness.


I usually agree with you dog. But we part ways here. I don’t believe that DeVaul is really helping these people and I feel that the buildings have to be up to code. If one of those shacks catches on fire and someone get hurt or worse yet killed then the county is responsible for allowing these people to live there and from what I’ve read they’re in pretty bad shape.

It’s unhealthy to have multiple sex offenders living together, at one point he had 9-12 living there all at once. This is a problem waiting to happen. I found a few articles that wrote about how dangerous it is to house multiple sex offenders together. Who knows if they’ve had proper treatment, but we all know that sex offenders are always sex offenders even with treatment.

Also, DeVaul charges an average of $500.00 a month rent. He buys cigarettes from Costco and sells them back to his residents at a profit. He uses them to work on his ranch. IMO he’s a slum lord. These poor people could share apartments or houses together for they pay him and their living conditions would be better.



“These poor people could share apartments or houses together for they pay him and their living conditions would be better.”

The people that Du Vall takes in are unable to live on their own when they arrive. They are the people that the shelters won’t take in, usually because of drugs, but sometimes because of criminal records. The county Sheriffs have been dropping people off at Du Vall’s ranch for years when they have no other place to take them.

Du Vall gets them off drugs and alcohol, and makes them earn their keep. There is no other facility in the county willing to work with some of these bottom of the barrel homeless.

“He buys cigarettes at Costco and sells them at a profit”. It’s still probably a lot cheaper than his people buying them at the store. If you think this is a problem, then you are really out of it.

In case you didn’t know, sex offenders live together all the time. Check Megan’s list and you will see that there are locations where multiple sex offenders live. What articles did you read? Maybe you should complain to the state of California that allows multiple sex offender housing.

Where did you get your information. I don’t think you know what you are talking about.


I agree that the cops do drop them off there. I spoke with a cop, she told me that they like it because they know where there if they need to find them. But I’m not about just shoving these people someplace to make it convenient for the cops.

There should be a facility that will take these people, I agree. The county is failing in that way. But by putting them in an unlicensed facility that doesn’t meet building codes we could very well be causing more harm than good by allowing this go on.

How much does it take for them to earn their keep? Sounds to me like they’re getting a pretty bad deal and DeVaul has found a profitable way to maintain his ranch.

Regarding housing of sex offenders. Do you think that sex offenders come out of prison better than when they went in?! Of course not, one reason is because of their living conditions. Sex offenders especially child offenders do have a tendency to hang out together, that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Years ago with this whole DeVaul thing first came down I spent quite a bit of time researching this thing with sex offenders and all of the experts in this field say it’s not a good situation. But even without reading what they say, your own commensense should tell you that.

I have recieved my info from several sources. A police woman, the news media, the internet and a few people that have stayed there.


Typo have you ever been to DeVauls place? The few people you talked to that did stay there were probably asked to leave for breaking the rules. The majority of people who have stayed there are grateful they were given a chance.


And the earth could crack open and swallow us all some day. I don’t recall any of DeVaul’s residents complaining about being forced into slave labor, being robbed by rent prices or the cost of supporting their cigarette habits. The self righteous attitude of some who claim to know whats better for them than they do is to much. So where do you plan on putting them? So where are they now? living under the bridge, a dumpster in SLO, stalking your home or neighborhood maybe? perhaps they should all be arrested…oh that’s right their not black and poor, cant have that. Wait I have an idea, maybe we can put them up in those abandon homes in SLO town, you know the ones moved in and now sitting on blocks like giant crack house eye sores waiting permanent locations. Glad to see the city has its priorities straight, unlike DeVaul the contractor will pay thousands or dollars in permits to get the homes ready.


IMO we don’t hear these people complain because they are the for the most part some of the easiest to take advantage of. It’s easy to use someone that’s desperate, lonely and/or not all there.


@ Typoqueen,

You said, “It’s unhealthy to have multiple sex offenders living together, at one point he had 9-12 living there all at once. This is a problem waiting to happen.”

You are probably correct in your assertion. However, these are not normal circumstances. Any sex offenders living at Sunny Acres are homeless. This means that if they do not live there, they will be out on the street, or under a bridge, or panhandling downtown. The point I am trying to make is that at least while the sexual predators were living at Sunny Acres the police could keep track of them at least to the extent of knowing where they live. That’s all out the window now.


Opposite of Typo, I usually disagree with hotdog, but I am right with him here. This whole sordid affair with Mullhullond/Crandall and DeVaul makes me sick!

Oh, the County *deems* it unsafe. Like most of the buildings in the downtown area? I mean, ALL of our buildings are unsafe if a meteor strikes us! More fools using the citizen-granted power of government to dictate their personal agendas.

When is Mullhulland’s term up? Not soon enough; one more roach to clean out. I’d love to see DeVaul get her seat! Wouldn’t that be sweet… ‘course, I doubt he’d lower himself to run for office. It takes a certain kind, after all. Especially in this town.


Um, r0y, Christine’s term ended in ’08 I believe, but her influence probably is slightly higher than the average citizen since she did have a seat on the city council. I do agree that her “discomfort” with the DeVaul ranch is the root cause of all of the troubles Dan faces; don’t you wonder if she hadn’t been so vocal if there would be any conflicts regarding Sunny Acres today?