Developers battle over Pismo Beach conference center

June 20, 2013

spanish springsAt the end of a meeting that lasted more than eight hours, the Pismo Beach City Council did not approve or deny the Spanish Springs project.

The proposed project, by West Coast Housing Partners, spans 950 acres and is slated to include 468 homes, a nine-hole golf course, conference center, wine center, vineyards, trails and open space.

After a 2 a.m. request by a neighboring developer who asked to be more involved in the project, the council asked West Coast Housing Partners to coordinate the project with Darren Shetler’s Pismo Ranch project, formerly dubbed Big Bird.

Shelter, who co-owns a neighboring property, said that he had been left out of the process and asked the council to allow him to build a hotel and a conference center, items planned for the Spanish Spring project.

In 2008, Shelter was working with Spanish Springs’ former owners to prepare an environmental impact report. He put $8,000 into the report, but backed out of the project after the cost of the report was nearing $100,000.

In 2011, Dave Watson with West Coast Housing Partners approached Shelter and asked him to coordinate projects with them. At the time, Shelter was looking to construct 194 residences on his 258-acre property. He again backed out, this time with report cost exceeding $1 million.

“Big bird is the wild card in all of this,” Watson said. “They have twice withdrawn from the project, now they act like they were never invited to the dance. At the eleventh hour Shelter argued that he was left out of the project. The simple realty is they are attempting to take our place.”

Nevertheless, issues with views of the canyon could determine which group of developers are permitted to build the proposed hotel and conference center. At Tuesday’s meeting, the council repeatedly noted the importance of protecting the view corridor, which would require leaving a large portion of Shelter’s property as open space.


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let’s see, the folks die, the three kids all want their money grab and subdivide or develop. why not give it to the Nature Conservancy and shelter the taxes on the money you did earn?

I think the city council all along had no intention of letting these projects go through. I think they just wanted to and were smart enough to milk these developers and to get them to put up money to make improvements in the infrastructure all the while knowing they were going to deny the development. If so, then that means the council is actually a bunch of smart and shrewd business people who know how to screw people (developers) instead of dumb people getting screwed by developers. Let’s hope it’s the council who’s smart though, or we’re all screwed.

I have an idea….. Do Nothing! Of all places, PISMO BEACH… A poor example of what to do! If you combined all the heads on the council, you would still be short of a functional brain. So, let’s talk about what needs to be done. This coastline is the only one without a Bike/Skate/Walking Path. Turn the main area from PCH WEST into a promenade. Redondo, Santa Monica, etc, has done very well by doing that. Make Pismo Beach a Safe Tourist Friendly Location. One of the dumbest things that really drives me nuts… I am sick and tired of almost hitting bicyclists! Bikes and cars on the same road is hazardous! PCH is not a bike path! I want to see dedicated bike paths that at least has a concrete divider to protect locals and tourists from getting hit. Now let’s look at “PARKING”…. NEED MORE PUBLIC PARKING with access to the paths. We also need more RV Parks. Each Holiday weekend all of the parks are sold out. So these people driving $500,000.00 + rigs can stay here rather than finding another location on the coast due to no availability. That would be a good project for our council to work on.

I don’t know where you would put such a bike path in most places. The beach itself would be a maintenance nightmare and most other places would involve very expensive property acquisition and likely use of eminent domain — a lengthy, expensive and politically dangerous process.

As to your problem with bicyclists on PCH, in the few places it lacks a wide shoulder, I can sympathize. You see, I am an occasional bike commuter and I feel the same way about sharing bike paths with pedestrians who are proportionately as unpredictable and slow as some cyclists on the road. The problem is that too many cyclists either don’t know the rules of the road (ride on the right, obey traffic signs, etc.), are distracted (by scenery, friends they ride with) or just have a lousy attitude (don’t care, entitlement to disobey laws) . Pedestrians don’t have as many rules and are even more inclined to disregard them.

Of course drivers share many of these traits beginning with a sense of entitlement thinking that there need to go fast over-rides others’ rights to the road and distraction from various sources. The best solution would be much better education of rights and responsibilities for all forms of transportation and better enforcement of laws. (This would be expensive but much cheaper than a bike path.) However, in a tourist community like Pismo, there is no way you can realistically expect to educate more than a fraction of those visiting from outside the area. The other solution is to change your expectations, slow down and relax — or take a different route to get where you want to go if possible.

grammar/spelling correction: “– entitlement thinking that their need”

Whew! Thanks, my “spellcheck eyes” caught that one!

One of the issues I think the City of Pismo needs to address is their outdated police and fire facility. The fire station, to my knowledge anyway, is the only one where the residence is behind the station where the engines are…and every time they get a call they have to run down a driveway just to get to the engine. How silly. Putting more houses and a hotel and whatever else they are planning will increase the number of calls they receive. Wouldn’t it be something if the City invested in a new building for the fire fighters? And next door, the police station is archaic at best…the city has an odd way of handling their funding…

Maybe this whole property would be better developed in a non-commercial manner, such as equestrian center, riding trails, dude ranch-type of thing.


Good one. Funniest thing I’ve read all week. Dudes, let’s go with a dude ranch, what do you say?

Let’s see, a dude ranch out to bring in about er, ah, -$75,000 a month in income.

Maybe this whole property would be better developed in a non-commercial manner, such as equestrian center, riding trails, dude ranch-type of thing. Then the traffic wouldn’t be too bad, smal cabins scattered around wouldn’t be so imposing or ruin the viewshed, and the water use would be minimal. The county would get something it doesn’t have, something that could be marketed to a new demographic of tourist and we’d still be protecting the environment and taking a giant leap forward in our tourism industry.

Normally, I champion property rights but common sense to me indicates that someone needs to think outside the mega-development mindset and think of trying to provide things that we DON’T have.

Pismo has plenty of million dollar McMansions but has little open space outside the beach.

I urge the developers to forget the usual projects that do nothing but pit people against each other, raise the ire of the populace and become political footballs and tear a community apart.

Whatever happened to the old days when developers looked at a community as a whole, taking into account things like water supply, sewage, views, traffic and compatability and brought to a community something they needed? The days when developers weren’t stigmatized as bad people.Because let’s be frank here, without developers willing to invest their money and effort into building our towns and cities, none of us would be living here.

Come on guys, think bigger than this.

What happened to the days when a person bought some land and built their own house? That’s how most of us got here. I’m living in a condo I rent that was built back in the 1920s and I’m surrounded by homes in downtown pismo here that were all built by owners who then either passed down their property to the children or sold them to private buyers. Since when do we even need developers?