Supervisors vote down Santa Margarita quarry

May 13, 2015

los pilitasOn a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors rejected a Santa Margarita rock quarry proposal, making litigation the only route remaining for two longtime residents of the rural community to continue pursuing their mining plans.

Supervisors Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill and Frank Mecham voted against the quarry plan after a day-long hearing, while supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton cast the two votes if favor of the project. Gibson  said he was opposed to the project based on county staffs’ list of denial findings including noise, truck traffic and aesthetics.

Hill argued that state reports of an impending gravel shortage were untrue, while Mecham said he wanted to protect Santa Margarita from truck traffic.

Arnold noted state reports of an impending shortage of aggregate needed for the construction of low-cost housing and road repairs as one of her reason for supporting the project.

Compton questioned staff on why they approved the neighboring Hanson Quarry through a different set of standards such as estimating daily trips on each truck carrying 25 tons of gravel while the Las Pilitas Quarry would transport only 20.2 tons per trip. Staff said the use of different metrics was because staff had actual numbers for the Hanson Quarry and with Las Pilitas they used worst case scenarios.

During a methodical questioning of staff and the applicant, Compton noted discrepancies in most of staffs’ denial findings.

The supervisors were voting on an appeal filed by project applicants Mike Cole and Steve Souza, who are seeking to build a 41-acre quarry.

The mining project would produce up to 500,000 tons of rock a year on a property along Highway 58 about three miles outside of Santa Margarita. Cole and Souza appealed a decision made by the county planning commission in February to reject a conditional use permit application.

The permit would have allowed Cole and Souza’s limited liability company, Las Pilitas Resources, to construct the infrastructure for and to operate the quarry. The board of supervisors upheld the decision made by the planning commission.

Opponents of the project complained about the potential truck traffic the quarry would create. County planning staff said the mining operation could generate up to 273 truck trips a day.

Project critics argued the trucks would create noise, endanger children who attend a nearby school, increase traffic and impede bicyclists.

Supporters of the quarry proposal argued that it is environmentally cleaner and cheaper to produce aggregate locally than to truck it from a distance.

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

Some critics of local government suggest the county is risking a viable lawsuit by denying the project. Santa Margarita attorney Sophie Treder already assisted Cole and Souza with the permit application process.

Before the planning commission rejected the quarry proposal, the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council voted 11-6 in favor of the project.

Hundreds of county residents attended a series of hearings on the project. Speakers split almost evenly for and against the quarry.

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  1. suzyque says:

    Great news! Now just get rid of the Sunset event and Santa Margarita can be a at peace again.

    (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • Jorge Estrada says:

      “Peace again,” won’t be for long because the county is building a water pipline to connect Santa Margarita to Atascadero (only for emergencies). The direction of infrastructure growth will turn Santa Margarita into a neighborhood. Know this, Margarita Farms and Garden Farms have an Atascadero address so get ready for the Post Office consolidation thence annexation.

      Unless Santa Margaritans get off their, it’s all about the base”, attitudes and start supporting orderly growth, Gov will continue to make the choices that best fund their interests.

      This is allot to ask because most just want peace, free everything and to blame someone else.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • NorCoMod says:

        Well said and how true. Hope they make the easement to Atascadero wide enough for a sewer force main from Santa Margarita.
        Once that’s in place, Hill and Gibson or their contemporaries will be shoving Smart Growth down SM resident’s throats. And when that does happen, suddenly the concerns of the community WON’T MATTER because then it will be for “the greater good”.

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

    Again, Arnold and Compton use specious excuses to support minority business interests, and Frank Mecham is again a voice of reason.

    (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
  3. LovinLosOsos says:

    If trucks can’t be on a state highway, where can they be?

    (3) 29 Total Votes - 16 up - 13 down
    • SloHeadInTheSand says:

      The 272 trucks can drive by your house in Los Osos.

      (24) 34 Total Votes - 29 up - 5 down
      • Jorge Estrada says:

        Reads like the NIMBY words spoken.

        (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
  4. fishing village says:

    Thank you Supervisors Gibson, Hill and Mecham!! Is there any development Arnold and Compton will turn down?

    (19) 43 Total Votes - 31 up - 12 down
    • 3 putt says:

      Nope–Just waiting for Laetitia. Compton will stick it to her neighbors, many of whom are struggling with water.

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
      • NorCoMod says:

        3 putt, Another SLO county golf nut complaining about a development using Compton’s neighbors water.
        Wonderful of you to care so deeply about other’s water issues but have ever checked out how much county water is consumed by your precious golf courses?

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

          Actually, you bring up a good point. Golf must adapt or perish and it’s not doing well.

          As to the personal attack, I haven’t played a round of golf in over 5 years– just self deprecating humor.


          Compton and Arnold don’t make good decisions, but rather just follow the money.

          (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
    • NorCoMod says:

      I think Arnold and Compton will approve any development or project that they determine is in SLO County’s best long term interests whether you like it or not. They’re looking way down the road.
      Gibson & Hill are all about short term gain…whatever the current neighbors think is best for their community. They spend every meeting staring at their feet.
      Frank Meacham, nice guy but a feckless leader. Paso can have him back where he doesn’t have to make complex difficult decisions.
      If I was SLO County Regional Airport admin I’d be worried….they’re sharpening their pitchforks and coming for you next.

      (-10) 12 Total Votes - 1 up - 11 down

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