Planning commission rejects Santa Margarita quarry

February 6, 2015

los pilitasThe San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission has turned down a permit for a proposed rock quarry, which two longtime Santa Margarita residents would like to construct on the outskirts of their town.

Mike Cole and Steve Souza are vying to build a 41-acre quarry that would produce up to 500,000 tons of rock a year on a property along Highway 58 about three miles outside of Santa Margarita. Following a planning commission dismissal of the project, they will likely appeal to the county board of supervisors.

On Thursday, the planning commission voted 3-2 to reject a conditional use permit application that would allow Cole and Souza’s limited liability company, Las Palitas Resources, to construct the infrastructure for and to operate the quarry. Commissioners Don Campbell and Jim Harrison, whom supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton appointed, cast the two votes in support of the project.

The commission majority opposed the potential truck traffic the mining project could create. County planning staff, which recommended that the commission not award the permit, said the quarry could generate up to 273 truck trips per day.

Opponents of the project argued that the trucks would create noise, endanger children who attend a nearby school, increase traffic and impede bicyclists.

Project manager Ken Johnston said the quarry would create a maximum of 200 truck trips a day. His supporters argued that it is environmentally cleaner and cheaper to produce aggregate locally than to truck it in from a distance.

Hundreds of county residents attended a total of three planning commission hearings on the proposed quarry. Public speakers split about evenly for and against the project.

In early December, the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council voted 11-6 in favor of the proposal.

Even if the county board of supervisors rejects the planned quarry, the battle over the project could wage on in the courts. Some critics of the county suggest that it is risking a viable lawsuit by turning down the project.

The proposed location of the quarry has a state overlay deeming it prime property for a granite quarry. In addition, the property is currently zoned for mining. Likewise, the county does not have jurisdiction to control traffic on a state highway.

Project applicants have two weeks to appeal to the board of supervisors.



  1. Shmed says:

    Dear central coast,

    I was born and raised in SLO and haven’t been back for many years.

    Great childhood , memories and friends.

    My “fear” is that the paradise I now live in is becoming a bunch of nit pickers as “you” have apparently perfected. With the same strange smugness.

    I know many of you are holding on, and I wish you well.

    If it makes you feel better with shared misery, my pollititions are way way worse than yours.

    You say”not possible”, but it is true.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. racket says:

    It’s going to take a lot of rock to build the roads/pads for the Santa Margarita Ranch. A close by rock pit is going to be pretty profitable for somebody.

    (-3) 9 Total Votes - 3 up - 6 down
    • hijinks says:

      There’s already a huge one right there — practically within eyesight of the proposed one (but with better access that doesn’t take trucks right through a neighborhood and past a school), so your suggestion one’s needed is off base. This isn’t about any of the enviro stuff or economic stuff proponents claim; they just want their own piece of the action that’s already in play in Santa Margarita.

      (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down
  3. justbeware says:

    State deems it prime property for a quarry.
    Currently zoned for mining.

    Yeah, sounds like that need to be squashed for sure!

    (-2) 18 Total Votes - 8 up - 10 down
    • Jorge Estrada says:

      Good point and don’t forget outlawing trucks on a State Highway.

      (1) 11 Total Votes - 6 up - 5 down
      • Citizen says:

        Trucks are already outlawed on a portion of the highway. The company has to get a waiver from the county/state to use it.

        (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
        • TheRealPretender says:

          Citizen- where exactly does this occur? I’m not aware of any portion of state highway 58 that outlaws trucks.

          (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
          • Jorge Estrada says:

            I think Citizen is mistaken and meant to say Highway 101. Maybe we should dedicate a complete lane for bicycles.

            (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
          • Citizen says:

            I was talking about the yellow sign that says Trucks with trailers use 46 or 101–not 58. But I should not have said that it outlaws trucks–my mistake– it just advises trucks with trailers.

            The website Margarita Proud shows a picture and explains it. “Just for clarification, according to Caltrans truck restriction information, the yellow advisory route begins at J Street in Santa Margarita. Trucks are not prohibited from traveling on a yellow route, but it’s not “advised” – not intended to be a truck route”.

            So, I guess no permission or change is needed from the state.

            One blogger said that the sign was for “through” trucks because of twists and turns later in the road.

            My mistake.

            (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  4. LameCommenter says:

    It takes aggregate to make and repair progress. Subject property is in a mining zone and county centrally located, not far off our main artery of commerce, the 101. It works. No big issues with a quarry driving through Paso Robles: Dozens of barreling lime trucks from Adelaide pass the Middle School on 24th street many times daily, going slowly and without impact. Also, I don’t see how anyone can complain of traffic and noise in a county which does NOTHING to stop intentional, day after day, needless, non-job producing noise from modified or muffler-less cars and motorcycles.

    If the opponents would speak up against county wide illegal exhaust system removal issues which noisily trash the quality of life sleep and health, their opposition might have more authority and relevance beyond their little burgh. Seriously.

    Did any ONE of them publicly berate the bike thugs which in any warm weekend day are many MORE daily and LOUDER Santa Marg noise trips than the truck forecast? Nope.

    Bring on the quarry, BOS. Santa Marg won’t even HEAR the trucks over the thug pipes by Python and Harley Davidson. Just doesn’t seem like the quarry opponents make a consistent case against noise issues for their hometown.

    (1) 21 Total Votes - 11 up - 10 down
    • Citizen says:

      Not a fair comparison, LameCommenter. Think of 270 gravel trucks a day tooling along on Spring Street going through downtown Paso. That’s the comparison. I don’t think Paso would put up with that (bad for tourism).

      Then again, if we need the gravel so badly, then why did the County effectively deny permits to two gravel companies in the North County? One land owner was told he would need to do an EPA for the entire Salinas River basin from Santa Margarita to Monterey County (not just the portions near his proposed gravel quarry).

      My grandfather in another state had a gravel company. He could have gone through town with his gravel trucks. Instead, he built his own road to the highway (afterall, he had the gravel and he bought “right of way” from a couple of neighbors. The point is that these quarry people want to use up all the government provided roads to transport their gravel. I believe in private property rights, but these people want to intrude on everyone else’s right to use the roads, establish businesses in Santa Margarita, create tourism, and breathe air free of gravel dust. Yes, there will be dust even though the trucks may be covered.

      However, I do agree with you on the noise of thug pipes on cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
      Someday, the county and cities around here will decide to enforce noise ordinances. It can’t come soon enough for me.

      (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
  5. Rich in MB says:

    Rocks for Construction….we don’t need no stinking Rocks.
    Besides we can haul them in from farther away emitting more planet killing CO2 gas….but not in my back yard baby!

    (1) 25 Total Votes - 13 up - 12 down
    • hijinks says:

      There is already a huge quarry in Santa Margarita, so nobody’s hauling from “farther away.” The stuff comes from nearby already. Check your facts before emitting fact-free stink. This is about greed, not saving the planet. If they wanted to save the planet, they wouldn’t propose chopping down a mountain to do it.

      (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down

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