Grossman gives gift to group led by new SLO councilman
November 17, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Developer Gary Grossman, who is seeking approval for a contested residential development on a San Luis Obispo ranch, has donated $5,000 to an organization headed by the soon-to-be swing vote on the city council.
During recent electoral campaigns, Grossman gave maximum contributions to Mayor Jan Marx and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson, both of whom are supporting his proposed high-density residential development on the ranch currently owned by Ernie Dalidio. Grossman also donated much larger sums to Marx and Christianson’s political allies at the county level, as well as to the half-cent city sales tax measure that they supported.
Marx and Christianson, along with Councilman John Ashbaugh are supporting a plan to override a decision made by the county airport commission to restrict Grossman’s development plans for the Dalidio ranch. In order to override the airport commission, four of five council members must support the decision, and so far, the council majority has not mustered a fourth vote.
But, project opponent Kathy Smith is leaving the council this month. She is being replaced by newly elected Dan Rivoire, the executive director of the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition.
Recently, Grossman donated $5,000 to a bicycle coalition initiative to build countywide pedestrian and bicycle trails, according to the organization’s Connect SLO County website.
“This incredibly generous donation will allow the Bicycle Coalition to continue our focus on proving to decision makers that local residents desperately want more safe places to bike, walk, stroll and play,” Rivoire said in a statement about Grossman’s contribution.
Rivoire’s first council meeting will take place on Dec. 2, during which he is expected to vote on the override plan. He has already voiced support for the override, which would give Grossman the final vote he needs to get his project over an initial hurdle.
Sources say Grossman has already spent approximately $6 million in down payments on the Dalidio Ranch. He was supposed to have closed the deal, but Grossman has extended escrow multiple times while he has sought further approval for his planned development.
If the council were to reject his plans, Grossman could lose the down payment money he has spent.