Pismo Beach developer files lawsuit against county board

May 14, 2012

Bruce Gibson

A Pismo Beach developer filed a lawsuit against the San Luis Obispo County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) saying members of the board abused their authority in order to promote their own political careers. [Tribune]

In March, LAFCO members voted 5-2 to deny developer Larry Persons’ request to annex a 182-acre proposed development, known as Los Robles Del Mar, into Pismo Beach  primary because of an alleged lack of water to support the project.

Supervisor Adam Hill is running for re-election against Pismo Beach Councilman Ed Waage. Several vocal supporters of Hill are opposed to the project because of concerns of traffic, water, and limiting growth.

The lawsuit claims that Supervisors Hill and Bruce Gibson are close friends and “improperly conspired together to deny the annexation in order to placate their anti-growth constituents and further their own political careers in an election year.”

The suit also alleges LAFCO board members made differing statements on the reliability of state water for Parsons’ proposed annexation  and the pipeline project in Nipomo.

Gibson led the charge against  Parsons’ proposed development of 300 homes saying that state water is unreliable while also promoting the controversial idea that seawater intrusion has put the groundwater supply at risk.

A few weeks later, while setting on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, members of the LAFCO board changed their statements on state water going from claims it was no more than 25 percent reliable when voting against the Pismo Beach annexation to assertions that state water was at least 60 percent reliable when promoting a draft reliability program.


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12 Comments

  1. cheseburger says:

    In March, LAFCO members voted 5-2 to deny developer Larry Persons’ request to annex a 182-acre proposed development, known as Los Robles Del Mar, into Pismo Beach primary because of an alleged lack of water to support the project.

    Hat’s off to the two of you, this clown could be another Kelly Gearhart out to defraud investers!
    Rumor has it my good buddy Gearhart has lung cancer, I am so sad I think I’ll take the family out to dinner to cheer them up!

    Beware of pushy realestate developers who are sue happy costing the county more money!

    Oh and cousin jowls get well soon and if you buy new lungs, I will find out where the money came from, because some of it was mine! Medical waiting list for you, my 45 year old friend who never smoked, coughed up blood for six months and died a horrible death, just something to mull over Gearhartless.

    (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  2. bullitbob says:

    I have just read the complaint written by the developer’s attorney. I also have experience in land entitlement and planning law. This is not going to be a good outcome for the Lafco.

    Lafco overstepped their authority. This property has been in the sphere of influence of Pismo Beach for over twenty years. It wasn’t for Lafco to determine whether there was adequate water. That was the City’s call and they made it favorably for the development. The commissioner’s even ignored the water expert that they hired. He said that Pismo is in the top 10% of cities in California as far as the safety, depth and diversity of their supply portfolio of water is concerned.

    This is strong arm politics plain and simple Gibson and his ilk think they know what is best and right and they think the certainty of their correctness means that they can ignore the rules break the law and collude and do whatever is necessary to gain their own ends. All because they are so righteous and anyone who disagrees with them is certainly wrong. Same kind of attitude at the national level with the Obama administration.

    I only wish the developer had sued Gibson and Hill personally. They deserve it and need to be taught a lesson. Unfortunately there is no consequence to them for these kinds of acts. They get to hide behind their position with the county and we the people have to pay for their defense.

    (1) 11 Total Votes - 6 up - 5 down
    • winedude says:

      Touchy, touchy…you must be a developer who lost some big bucks in this deal…TOUGH!!! You’re NEVER guaranteed a profit. You make it sound like LAFCO should be a rubber stamp for the rest of the decision making process…I don’t think so…that obviously ain’t the way it works.

      (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
      • bullitbob says:

        Nope. Just pointing out that the planning process needs to be orderly and fair. Lafco has made decisions for the past twenty years indicating that this property was to be developed as it has been planned to be. For the supervisors to go against all their prior approvals and turn this down now for specious reasons is simply not cricket. They will lose this lawsuit because they’re wrong and they acted capriciously.

        (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
  3. Cicero says:

    The key fact left hanging in the last paragraph of the article is the identity of the LAFCO members who said one week that the water availability is 25% one week on an annexation the disliked but 60% reliable the next meeting when justifing a vote for a project in the same place that they did like.

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
  4. jimmy_me says:

    Gibson does not care about saltwater intrusion in Los Osos as a result of the billion-dollar sewer; why is he all of a sudden caring about it in Pismo? Maybe there were less “creative incentives” provided by the parties involved for a vote in their favor. Are there any honest politicians out there?

    (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
  5. Jorge Estrada says:

    I got to agree with Bruce’s comment on State Water and the risk of Salt Water Intrusion, there is data to support both. Whether or not he is a nice guy, he is right to make these comments.

    (0) 12 Total Votes - 6 up - 6 down
  6. rogerfreberg says:

    Oh, yeah, the guy invested his time, energy and his money and got screwed by our local planning bodies… is anyone really surprised??

    The state, the counties and our cities are all gagging… and then our representatives or their designates act this way. However… they do want to abolish ‘bad’ Prop 13 and raise ‘good’ taxes. Funny, we pay more in county sales tax than folks once paid in Federal Taxes….

    I believe Gibson is being a bit dishonest here … but then it suits his agenda. Time for a change.

    (6) 34 Total Votes - 20 up - 14 down
    • winedude says:

      Sorry…the only way he got “screwed by our local planning bodies” is by having any of them approve this project. What LAFCO did should have happened way before it ever got to LAFCO.

      (5) 17 Total Votes - 11 up - 6 down
  7. racket says:

    Wait, so LAFCO asserted that State Water is only 25% reliable to harpoon this project, then slightly later asserted it was “at least 60 percent reliable” when promoting a project they want to see?

    Dirty politics is dirty politics whether you’re a no-growther or a pave-to-the-graver. Why has no one called “foul” before now?

    (18) 28 Total Votes - 23 up - 5 down
  8. winedude says:

    As I’ve stated more than once, there is no guarantee of a profit, EVER! That’s how capitalism works. Mr. Persons took a chance and lost. It’s called risk. He bought the land and then discovered that there was insufficient water for his proposed project. Thankfully, LAFCO had the cajones to stop this silly project…none of the previous agencies had the guts to do so.

    (9) 63 Total Votes - 36 up - 27 down
    • bullitbob says:

      But there ought to be an expectation of fair play, particularly by public policy makers. This property has been in the planning process for twenty or more years. Lafco approved it as a residential development site to be annexed to the City of Pismo Beach all that time ago and just updated the sphere of influence last year confirming that it should be annexed. All of the studies needed to prove the city’s ability to provide services were done and approved by the City. Lafco was notified and given every opportunity that every other public body had to comment and participate in the EIR. They did not do so.

      Even the Lafco staff recommended the approval of the annexation because they knew to not do so would fly in the face of every other action that Lafco has taken over the years in the approval process for this property. Nevertheless Gibson and Patterson reneged on those earlier approvals all for political posturing and deal making. In order to justify their position they had to claim that in this case the State Water Project water is only 25% reliable. Just weeks later in order to approve the water wheeling deal from Santa Maria to Nipomo they say the same water supply is 60% reliable. Do you think the developer isn’t going to make that point in court? These guys think we’re stupid and we just need them to show us the light or lead us into the light no matter how many laws or rules they have to break. It’s for our own good. Besides, Hill is in the middle of his re-election race. He needed to appease his constituents and Gibson and Patterson wanted to maintain their little power clique on the board. Hill even took credit for stopping the project on his facebook page within an hour of the vote. He’s not even on Lafco. The only way for him to claim credit would be if he colluded with Gibson and Patterson. I think that’s a violation of the Brown Act, don’t you think?

      These guys need to be kicked out and others with some level of personal integrity are needed for replacements.

      (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down

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