SLO council minority halts progress of Grossman development

October 22, 2014
Gary Grossman

Gary Grossman


The San Luis Obispo City Council majority failed to muster enough votes Tuesday night to further several large housing projects, including one belonging to a politically connected developer.

The city’s general plan update calls for high-density residential development on the south side of town. One of the projects in the area is developer Gary Grossman’s bid to build high-density housing on the property currently owned by rancher Ernie Dalido.

But, the San Luis Obispo County Airport Land Use Commission, which has a regulatory sphere that includes the Dalidio ranch, does not approve of the proposed level of density.

In order for the city to move forward with its general plan update as proposed, as well as with Dalidio’s development, the council would have to override a ruling by the airport commission on density restrictions. At least a four-fifths vote is necessary to overrule the commission.

On Tuesday night, the council voted 3-2 to override the commission. Councilwoman Kathy Smith and Councilman Dan Carpenter cast the dissenting votes and the override failed.

Smith said she objected to overriding the airport commission because she is uncertain that developers would build what is needed in the area. Carpenter said he is concerned that overriding the airport commission would place the city at legal risk.

The airport commission, as well as an aeronautical division of CalTrans, have hinted at suing the city over the proposed developments.

After Carpenter mentioned the city’s legal risk Tuesday, he feuded with Councilman John Ashbaugh, who tried to sway him to vote for the override.

Ashbaugh asked Carpenter why he did not pose any questions about the situation to the city attorney during a closed session hearing earlier in the day. Carpenter responded by saying that Ashbaugh violated the confidentiality of closed session which helped swing his vote against the override.

Both of Ashbaugh’s allies on the council, Mayor Jan Marx and Coucilwoman Carlyn Christianson, are currently up for reelection. Marx and Christianson have each received campaign contributions from Grossman.

While seeking approval for his project, Grossman donated the maximum allowable amount of $300 to both Marx and Christianson.

Grossman has donated larger sums to political allies of the council majority.

The developer has already contributed nearly $20,000 to the election campaign of County Supervisor Caren Ray. He has also donated to Supervisor Adam Hill, who has in turn lobbied several council members to vote for the override which would permit Grossman’s project to go through.

Preliminary approval already exists for development of the Dalidio ranch, but guidelines call for more commercial development and less residential development than Grossman is seeking.

Several local developers say residential projects are currently make more money than commercial ones, so Grossman would stand to receive a higher return on investment by building high-density housing.

Grossman’s representatives have lobbied hard for the project to include more residential development.

His chief of acquistions, Monte Cool, is also a major donor to Ray’s campaign. Cool has contributed $10,000 to Ray’s bid to keep her county supervisor seat.

The San Luis Obispo Council is expected to continue its discussion on the override of the airport commission at a future meeting. In the interim, the Nov. 4 election will change the makeup of the council, as Smith has chosen not to run for reelection.

A new council member could provide a fourth vote in favor of overriding the airport commission and advancing Grossman’s project.

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If you want to live in this town you need to bring piles of cash. All those of you who work for us and make scraps must drive from all corners of SLO county where they dump high density housing. Us SLO privileged folk who drip with wealth, don’t want you clogging up our society with your blue collar beer habit and plastic bag affections. We control your life, because we can.

It takes moxie for a big time developer to win over the greenie no-growthers to his side. I can’t believe $200 per candidate is nearly enough to do it. Also, why aren’t the green crowd screaming “foul” as their Electeds support the Venturization of San Luis Obispo?

Of course we need more high-density housing… because of the massive amount of jobs available! Duh! Just look around: jobs, jobs, jobs! Joe Biden’s favorite 3-letter word: JOBS!

I think we should have some nice concrete project housing for the masses. We have masses, right?

Who’d have thunk that industry is a booming… industry… in this area (state, country…)?

Follow the money and you learn a lot. The story’s using Grossman as its poor little developer misses the point: There are a bunch of developers who’ve donated large amounts to the “progressive” ones on the council. In the current race, Andy Mangano and wife (Mangano Homes, with two large projects in the airport hazard zone where land is cheaper than in properly zoned areas) have given $600 each (the legal maximum in SLO) to Marx, Christianson, and challenger Rivoire — just in case you weren’t sure what he stands for. Mangano also dumped $1000 on Yes on G. Grossman gave the max to the same three candidates, and another $1000 for G. And they say elections aren’t for sale? Can you match that $600 to get the mayor’s ear? Thought not. (The story misstates the maximum contribution as $200. That was before Marx, Christianson and Ashbaugh raised it to $300 just a few months ago. Why’d they do it? Not to make the city more democratic, but to make it easier to raise funds from moneybags, that’s why. Who wants to beg for $25 contributions from you and me when it’s so much easier to sell out?)

Marx, Ashbaugh and Christianson are worthless puppets. I don’t know the pros/cons of this specific project but I know the aforementioned trio voted based on their collective desire to get reelected. Had it been in THEIR best interest to vote against the project the would have.

Nice to see Councilman Carpenter continuing to show some real leadership. Nice to see Councilwoman Smith doing the right thing as well. Too bad she knuckled-under to special interests else Measure G wouldn’t even be on the ballet.

NO on Measure G!

“Keep San Luis Obispo Great!” Yes, let’s build more houses and have even more congestion on Madonna Road. That is great all right! Thank you Kathy and Dan for voting NO.

These people who voted in favor of this are always talking “smart growth” and “limited growth” – except when they get paid off!

Vote NO on Measure G and vote NO on the hypocritical incumbents up for re-election.

Just do not see how citizen taxpayers can afford Measure G- Sales Tax Increase, then add the” overzealous ” Building Taxes and we have Three New Tax Increases !

” Can you afford more New Taxes, and then signal a green light for more New Tax Increases in the Next Election ? ”

Vote-Inform-Return Mail Ballot

I can’t even afford to water my lawn in SLO.

Gary, Gary, Gary,

You simply didn’t get the vote you wanted because you failed to pay the special fees to the appropriate leaders. “Just a little on the side” is what City employees want. They are owed that, just ask that former water conservation guy who was revealed to be making “a little on the side” on this website or that Union Leader at SLO who got caught red handed misappropriating city assets for personal gain on this website also. Just pay them a little on the side or leave a little extra on the counter so that they can misappropriate a little extra on the side.

I love democracy!

I hope these aren’t the same people complaining about lack of affordable housing in San Luis Obispo.

Or traffic! More and more workers are forced to commute into the city because there isn’t enough housing in the city at any price to house the workforce.

City hall has a fix for that housing problem: Rent housing in SLO out by the night so the cool people can make a little more moolah from airbnb than from legitimate monthly renters. (Ashbaugh’s all for it! He listens to whatever greedhead pops in to the council meeting.)

Really, now, I don’t want to live in SLO — I can’t keep my horse in the back yard, and it’s too far from the beach. Give me some sprawl out there and I’m a happy one.