Developers weigh in on SLO elections
October 28, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Several developers with projects under consideration by the San Luis Obispo City Council are injecting cash into the election campaigns of two incumbents who have recently supported their development from behind the dais and a county official lobbying council members.
As the city of San Luis Obispo updates its general plan, the council is considering changes that would allow for high-density housing developments on the southern side of town. The council majority of Mayor Jan Marx, Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson and John Ashbaugh has thrown its support behind the proposed developments, while council members Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter have so far stifled the projects.
Currently, Marx and Christianson are running for reelection. Smith’s seat is also up for election, but she opted not to seek another term on the council.
Both Marx and Christianson have received maximum allowable campaign donations from developers with ties to two of the proposed housing developments in Southern San Luis Obispo.
Gary Grossman, the head of Coastal Community Builders, plans to develop both retail space and housing on the property he holds in an escrow with rancher Ernie Dalidio.
In 2006, a ballot initiative to authorize the development of Ernies Dalido’s ranch into a 131-acre project incorporating residential, recreational, restaurants, retail, and a hotel was approved by voters by a 65-35 percent margin. Grossman is seeking to lower the amount of retail space approved by voters in favor of more lucrative residential units.
In addition to being at odds with Measure J, Grossman’s plans call for higher density housing than city and regional regulations currently allow in the area.
Grossman has given $300 each to Marx and Christianson.
Andrew Mangano is the past president of Mangano Homes, which is seeking to develop Avila Ranch, a 150-acre property near the San Luis Obispo airport. As with Grossman’s development, the city council must override existing regulations in order to make approval of the project possible.
Mangano has donated $300 to both Marx and Christianson campaigns. His wife Laurie Mangano has done the same.
Grossman and Andrew Mangano have also donated $1,000 each to a committee supporting Measure G, San Luis Obispo’s half cent sales tax measure. Marx and Christianson each helped place the measure on the ballot.
Additionally, Grossman and Laurie Mangano are major donors to the election campaigns of San Luis Obispo County Supervisors Caren Ray and Adam Hill. Grossman has donated $24,386 to Ray’s campaign.
Grossman and Mangano each donated $1,000 to Hill’s campaign account even though he is not currently running. Hill then lobbied San Luis Obispo Council members to support the high density housing requests of Grossman and the Manganos while donating the maximum, $300, to Marx.
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