Santa Margarita quarry ruling again postponed

January 9, 2015

los pilitasThe San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission again made no decision Thursday on a mining proposal for rural Santa Margarita that is dividing neighbors and county residents.

Longtime Santa Margarita residents Mike Cole and Steve Souza are applying for a conditional use permit that would allow them to construct the infrastructure for and to operate a 41-acre quarry. Cole and Souza are seeking to produce a maximum of 500,000 tons of rock annually on a property along Highway 58 about three miles outside of Santa Margarita.

On Dec. 11, the planning commission held its first hearing on the project. More than 200 people attended the meeting, and public comment lasted four hours.

About 50 additional speakers addressed the commission on Thursday. As with the first hearing, speakers at Thursday’s meeting split about evenly for and against the quarry project.

Much of the debate over the project surrounds potential truck traffic. County planning staff says the quarry could generate up to 273 truck trips a day, but project manager Ken Johnston says the maximum number of daily truck trips would be about 200.

Opponents of the project argue that the trucks would create noise, endanger children at a nearby school, increase traffic and impede bicyclists. Proponents of the quarry argue that it is environmentally cleaner to produce aggregate locally than to truck it in from a distance.

In early December, the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council voted 11-6 in favor of the quarry. County planning staff, however, recommended denial of the conditional use permit, saying the economic benefits of the project do not override the environmental impacts.

A ruling on the project could come at the planning commission’s Feb. 5 meeting when it will resume discussions on the quarry. Any decision for or against the quarry will likely get appealed to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

You won’t find me in the line people that trying to outlaw trucks on a State Highway. I will be in the line that wants public safety maintained on the existing State Highway, where applicable. Additionally, how did the State get away with that cheap and noisey chip-seal overlay on that portion of highway that is within the Town of Santa Margarita?

I wish that the articulate anti-whatever yodelers would consider the pro-side of what we need, an improved level of safety and quality. The State Highway is not going away and it certainly is not a locals only benefit.

I think that trucks are already outlawed on a portion of the road and the quarry people want to change that so they can drive their 270 trucks per day on it. Maybe someone can clarify this information. I could be wrong, but this is what I remember from previous discussions.

Yes the old steel bridge would have limited the proposal but a Federal Highway Safety fund built a new straight and wide bridge. Incrementally other bridges are being or have been upgraded along Highway 58. Many improvements have been made on Highway 101 too, the Cuesta Grade for example. The plan is for three lanes in each direction throughtout the full length of this county. With this mindset you may of noticed the many projects that could add up to this end. There is no doubt that Higway 58 will do it’s part to serve the needed materials.

Like it or not, County growth and State transit will require these improvements.