State eyes Morro Bay commune for violations

October 21, 2013
Roandoak of God

Roandoak of God

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

A destination for the downtrodden on the outskirts of Morro Bay has been circumventing a variety of building codes and environmental regulations for more than four decades, and now an official of the California Coastal Commission is chiding county officials for the protracted paralysis.

Additionally, county officials’ options for correcting the problems appear to be very limited.

Catering to down-and-out residents, Roandoak of God has expanded over the years from its original, and permitted, use as a single-family residence, to a commune that often shelters more than 30 paying residents at a time. Its location on a quiet rural residential road disrupts the neighborhood, some say.

Originally a barracks building from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the structure  was moved to the Morro Bay site in the mid 1970s.

During the next 15 years, many permits were required of the facility as it grew, but few of those permits were ever actually applied for, or granted. Roandoak has been slated for destruction by county mandate on several occasions, but that has never happened.

Nancy Cave, the commission’s statewide enforcement supervisor, summarized findings of state investigators in an Oct. 3 letter to Nancy Orton, planning supervisor for the San Luis Obispo County Planning and Building Department.

“The interested parties now extend beyond” the county, Cave said.

Cave suggested county officials have largely ignored concerns of state officials ever since the latter began eying the Roandoak of God structure in 2010 “concerning various allegations of non-permitted development” on the property.

“We believe a major expansion and change in use occurred on the property in 1990 and the county failed to provide for us adequate information for approval of a coastal development permit,” Cave said.

Orton says the county is working with the state to resolve issues.

“As was stated in the Coastal Commission letter, ‘this is obviously a complicated case with a long history…’  and we are continuing to work with the Coastal Commission on resolving the issues.  I have no further comment at this time,” Orton said in an email.

District Two supervisor Bruce Gibson did not respond to CalCoastNews requests for comment on Roandoak, though he was a recipient of Cave’s letter.

CalCoastNews first reported on the Roandoak issue in Feb. 2009 (“Selective code enforcement: Is it ‘God’s will?’”) noting an “on-again, off-again campaign by San Luis Obispo County code enforcement officers to force Roandoak to comply with building codes — efforts which to date have met little success. A large, two-story building housing dozens of Roandoak residents is not now permitted, and never has been, according to county officials.”

Next-door neighbor Carrie Burton runs a small ranch with her husband and has for years been waging a battle against the non-permitted sprawl at Roandoak, and what she contends is severe degradation of the area’s underground water supply caused by the commune.

“Roandoak is an admittedly illegal, non-permitted land use with decades of expired permits and non-met conditions,” Burton wrote in an e-mail to former supervisor Jim Patterson in 2009. “The county’s own building code says Roandoak should be deemed a new project, with today’s codes, standards and permits. The county is presently insisting that Roandoak is ‘a single-family residence with a single kitchen.’ ”

At various times, local government regulators have demanded Roandoak officials meet environmental, structural, plumbing and electrical requirements.

Most demands were simply ignored, as were requirements for building permits for the building. There has been no approval of the commune’s domestic water supply, and now local water supplies are tainted with coliforms and nitrates. There are inadequate septic systems on the property. Also lacking is a detailed site plan, and provisions for parking, landscaping, and height restrictions, as required by law.

State investigators note that Roandoak — also known as Chorro Creek Training Center — was registered with SLO County as a fictitious business in Sept. 2002, but the license expired in 2007. An organization listed as the “Discipleship Institut” (sic) then registered the fictitious name “Chorro Creek Ranch” which expired in 2011. Articles of incorporation filed over the years have long been suspended.

According to Cave, there are “two basic paths… for correcting these violations.”

One is to “require the subject site be restored to its pre-1990 configuration and use.”

The second would be to go through the appropriate permitting process for all new additions to the structure since 1990.

That would require county hearings, coastal development permit approvals, and other processes, and “each path presents certain challenges,” Cave said. “Please inform me no later than Nov. 4, 2013, how the county intends to address resolution of these coastal development permit issues.”


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MBCITIZEN

Drive down Chorro Creek Road to the end of that small road and see for yourselves;

that picture is outdated and the 100,000’s in renovation will be abundantly clear.

The reason so many people live under bridges in SLO, is because attacks on

those who attempt to create affordable housing are routine, hostile and based

on lies; by usually just one neighbor who has their own agenda.


bobfromsanluis

And how many of those renovations were fully permitted and inspected, I wonder?

To your point about affordable housing; builders are “private enterprise” operators who make a product in order to make a profit- would you have them be required to build “affordable housing” that they don’t make any profit on? Who would do that, and still remain in business? While I agree that most of the animosity aimed at Sunny Acres was more of a view shed concern, there was an honest issue of the safety of those living there that did come out and was eventually rectified. If the Coastal Commission is under the wrong impression that the county has not held Roandoak to a standard of inspection and permitting that most other locations would be required to follow, like Sunny Acres, and the county has done everything by the book, it should be pretty simple for the county to show the CC that everything is on the up and up. If not, then they have some serious explaining to do.

I for one hope that Roandoak of God comes out of this situation stronger and able to serve more of those who need and would like their help; if the county has an agreement that RoG was supposed to move off of that property, then perhaps the county needs to step up and help them relocate.

There are far too many questions that have not been answered concerning the “apparent” lack of follow through by the county; it doesn’t matter if it is one neighbor or everyone in the area raising the questions, those questions still need to be addressed.


MBCITIZEN

Last night I was listening to the Dave Congalton radio program and they were discussing this issue when a Licensed Contractor called in and stated that he had

worked on that building for years and got permits the entire time. This only supports the logical conclusion that there were indeed permits filed. Looking at how it

is now (I live in MB and know) compared to that ugly old picture, that no way would this county allow for that many changes to a building without permits. There is a Coastal Commission investigation, what is new about that? It is near a creek, yet there are houses even closer, has the Coastal Commission investigated their permits since 1990?

Aristotle was the father of the “Law of Non-Contradiction,” which inspired the famous quote: “Contradictions do not exist, check your premises, one of them

is wrong.”


bobfromsanluis

Yes, I heard and even called in when Dan Blackburn was on; I asked Dan about the picture accompanying this article- he clearly stated he pulled the picture off of the Roandoak website, so if you want to complain about how “out of date” the picture is, contact Roandoak.

As to the contractor; I am pleased that they are using licensed contractors, and that the assertion was made that every thing has been permitted- it should be relatively easy then for the county to show the CC that all permits have been applied for, inspected, approved and there were follow up inspections to make sure that all of the permitted work was done up to code, as well as being able to detect un-permitted work, if any was/is present at the site. If everything has been done “by the book”, most all of the uproar should fade away very quickly. I say most since apparently the surrounding neighbors were sold their properties under the guise of the commune being condemned and scheduled to be torn down; if that was truly the case, those neighbors have a case against someone for some sort of false advertising.


Myself

That place has been a problem since day one,the only reason it has stayed all this long is because the county would take people there that could not be housed by the county itself, the early days of Roandoak were nothing but dirty bums and vagrants,beat up cars and trucks patrolling the city looking for scraps or handouts what a disgrace,Ole Galeb was one of the biggest problems there being a pediphile himself but that seemed to be over looked, the crook there now was so bad at the time that Galeb ran him off. He would be a good operator for Capslow he takes money from the people that stay there and if they don’t turn over their checks he runs them off,unlike DuVaul if they have money he asks for some and then he pays those people for working on the property, the Apostle is just plain bad.


SloNative46

Who is “the crook” who’s there (and I presume you mean “in charge”) now?


mbactivist1

There is another reason. For some reason, Gibson protects the operator of the place.


It is a fact that the required permits are NOT in place, and that can be verified. The County has done some fancy footwork trying to make things look legal, but their maneuvering did not fool the Coastal Commission and would not fool anyone else who looked closely at what goes on at Roandoak. Obviously, Mr. Blackburn did just that.


godislanguage

Sometimes its cheaper to leave things alone.


Just because 1 neighbor has issues with an existing neighbor does that mean we set for in action the mighty Progressive arm of the UNIONIZED GOVERNMENT bureaucrats to leverage the take over of your property.


The Burtons, CA Coastal Commision, etal can pound dirt for all I care unless their claimed Nuisances are a threat to public safety.


bobfromsanluis

“Just because 1 neighbor has issues with an existing neighbor does that mean we set for in action the mighty Progressive arm of the UNIONIZED GOVERNMENT bureaucrats to leverage the take over of your property.”

Aside from the pain of reading such a poorly constructed sentence, the assumption that all government workers are unionized is a reach (unless you have some evidence of that assumption) and the assumption that all government workers are also progressives is highly laughable. While I have no doubt that there may be some governmental employees who might be progressive in their political philosophy, I would also assume that there are government workers that have all sorts of political beliefs; again, unless you have some evidence of your assertion, you are making extremely broad assertions which seem to only serve the purpose of reenforcing your narrow political beliefs.

As for the Burtons and the CA Coastal Commission and the claims of code violations; if you had a neighbor who had far too many people for the size and zoning of that property living next door to you, would you not also contact the appropriate authorities to investigate? Would you not be concerned that if nothing was done to correct the situation that it could impact your safety if the house next door caught fire, or the sewer/septic tank overflowed or some other situation that could endanger your own safety? Just because someone owns their own home, they do not have the “right” to pollute or endanger their fellow neighbors by having their property in an unsafe condition.


unlisted

“Next-door neighbor Carrie Burton runs a small ranch with her husband and has for years been waging a battle against the non-permitted sprawl at Roandoak, and what she contends is severe degradation of the area’s underground water supply caused by the commune.”


Roandoak was there for three decades before Carrie bought her “small ranch.” If Roandoak is so horrible, why did Carrie buy right next door???


bobfromsanluis

So let me get this straight; a couple buy a property next door to a religious commune- maybe they were told by the selling realtor about the situation, maybe they were not- but because the commune was already there, violating numerous county and state ordinances, the buyer of the next door property has no right to bring those violations to the attention of the authorities? Is that really your argument? I think you are trying to go down a road of reasoning that should not be followed; if Roandoak is in violation as is reported here, it shouldn’t matter who lives next door, how many times they have raised an awareness- either Roandoak needs to comply or be shut down, just like with Sunny Acres. Anything less smacks of favoritism or a severe ineptness by the code enforcement division of the county, period.


mbactivist1

Very simple. The Burtons were told the building was scheduled for demolition, and they even verified the existence of the demolition permit just to be safe. They would not have bought the property if they had known the Roandoak structure would stay there.


Also, they were told later, when it became clear that the building was not coming down, that it would be a place for retired ministers to live. Clearly, that is not the case.


ironyman2000

I was eating at Margie’s in Paso one day. A kid was being a royal pain in the A. When I asked

Mom if she would get control of her progeny her response was “we were here first”.

NO EXCUSE!


JB Bronson

CAPSLO is not in the homelessness business for profit. Correct. But there is a large agency of high salaried people who claim they are the only ones fit to deliver services to these people. That, we know, those who are willing to tell it like it is. What is the return on that expense?


JB Bronson

Dan Duvall very much needs to be monitored for the physical safety of the people who stay there, and there would be quite a shock if people understood the lack of program structure there. Kind of depends on Dan’s mood that day.


Roandoak needs to be held accountable the same way. Respect what they have done for so long, and that Social Services would utilize the program, but they should comply with regs like everybody else.


If there was money in it, CAPSLO would have showed up a long time ago. Do we really expect there would be something different out there if CAPSLO was involved?


Maybe support for CAPSLO can be re-directed to bring Roandoak into compliance?


mbactivist1

There have been some disturbing reports from people who have stayed there that the way the Roandoak boarders are treated is no better than (and in fact, very similar to) the way CAPSLO treats its clients. The only one who really seems to care about the down-and-out people is Dan Duvall.


givemeabreak

Not only the down and out live at Chorro Creek. I know of 1 county employee making some good money that is living out there.


OnTheOtherHand

CAPSLO isn’t in the Homeless Services “business” for profit. Their SLO operation has an extremely tight budget and, if ANY of the accusations against them are true, that may be a result of attempts to keep the programs within the budget provided by the funds they get for that purpose. CAPSLO doesn’t have free money to upgrade anyone else’ program and couldn’t take on the responsibility of doing it right without that.


karma2come

So your saying mis treating people and stealing from them is an attempt to stay within the budget?? Unreal! I’m really hoping I read wrong,because if not, that statement is beyond idiotic!!! Besides, CAPSLO has some connection with Chorro Creek, I spoke to a lady living there awhile back, she was on SSI and her case manager helped her to move there. She only kept a very small portion of her check and the rest went to Chorro Creek for rent and meals. She was upset because she paid so much money but she had no freedom and had to attend prayer sessions a couple of times daily. So I think CAPSLO should give up funds to help Chorro Creek get up to code.


womanwhohasbeenthere

I knew Galeb who began Roandoak of God back in the 1970s. This was a Christian communethat supported itself with two fishing boats and produce sales. They took in anybody and put them to work. Department of Social Services often dumped people there. It was the only homeless shelter around for years. It is off the beaten path and from my visits there it was run down but livable – certainly better than living under a bridge. They did a lot of good for many people at no cost to taxpayers.


Instead of prosecuting them, why doesn’t CAPSLO or some other well-funded agency help them bring the place up to code so they can continue the good work they are doing? I guess that is too logical.


r0y

Because the competition* constantly claims it takes millions to run proper facilities; this would only prove them wrong at best, inefficient and lying at worst. In short, places like this (or Duval’s) cannot be allowed to stand and “compete” so they are tarnished and nickel-and-dimed out of existence.


*by competition, I mean:

Competition

Against

People

Serving

Less those

fOrtunate


OnTheOtherHand

Don’t blame CAPSLO for overbearing building codes and zoning laws. They try to comply with them and it does cost a lot to do so. I agree that such places should be cut some slack in meeting codes (except those which affect neighbors’ safety) or given financial assistance to meet them, but that means getting special exemptions from some regulations and laws. That is hard enough to do on the city/county level and impossible on the state level — unless some very wealthy people devote some very large sums to “lobbying” for changes.


r0y

Actually, the State will just re-issue building codes to exempt themselves if they are having a hard time. It has been happening for decades. Most minor updates to the UBC/CBC are just exemptions for government.


Also, I don’t remember mentioning building codes and zoning laws… I was talking about competition from government – and as many know, government does not like competition. The nickel-and-diming was not so much for code violation, but everything: fees, taxes, court costs, etc. The government has an almost infinite number of ways to make a private citizen’s life miserable outside the routine stuff.


However, your point is valid: should we bend the rules for the dirty work? I mean, people are homeless; most anything is a step up from a creek bed or freeway overpass. Unfortunately, what drives codes is litigation; litigation bleeds insurance companies, so insurance usually dictates most government (and businesses) actions. The insurance industry is behind most building codes. Until we have serious tort reform (lol, asking a bunch of lawyers to change their ways), we’re not going to ever see less litigation / less insurance-driven actions.


ironyman2000

I INTVed Galeb in the 1980’s. He was an unwashed wacko who claimed his vision came

through lightening bolts from god. Dislike the comment if you choose but it’s true.


bobfromsanluis

Jeepers, the obvious comparison to Dan DeVaul and his program has to be made here; why such a strident effort to get DeVaul’s property up to code and a total ignoring of what is happening at Roandoak? Is there some sort of fear that the powers that be will be accused of religious persecution? If the situations at both facilities are as similar as it sounds and the only real difference between the two programs is that Roandoak is a “faith-based” facility, how can the differences in enforcement be explained?

I for one would like to hear from someone is a position of authority for the county stating how the county is going to comply with the demands of the state concerning this property; someone from the inspection enforcement department or a Supervisor, it doesn’t matter, as long as there is acknowledgement of the situation and a clear definition of what action the county is going to require of the Roandoak community.

If there is any attempt to further sweep this situation under the rug, I would think that Dan DeVaul might even have a case against the county for the relentless efforts of the county as a “selective” enforcement since the county seems to have turned a blind eye on Roandoak possibly due to their religious alignment. It certainly does not seem fair to have such an uneven appearing enforcement policy and execution.


Pelican1

…”why such a strident effort to get DeVaul’s property up to code and a total ignoring of what is happening at Roandoak?” Because Roandoak has yet to obscure Christine’s pristine, pastoral view shed.


HarryMalone

Sunny Acres 2.0