Cal Poly gifted with 450 acres in Arroyo Grande

June 4, 2015

Cal Poly LargeThe owners of a 500-acre Arroyo Grande ranch are set to donate 450 acres of the property to Cal Poly. [Tribune]

On Monday, Stuart and Jan Bartleson will sign over the deed to 450 acres of their family ranch located at 1950 Los Berros Road, across Highway 101 from Laetitia Winery and Vineyards. Stuart Bartleson says the property is worth an estimated $11.5 million.

The ranch owners say they want to make sure the property remains ag land. They currently grow lemons and avocados on the property and have grown peaches in the past.

Cal Poly agriculture students are expected to use the ranch for courses and projects, as well as for employment with the university. Some students work for Cal Poly as crop growers.

The students will be able to grow additional crops on the ranch, like strawberries, Stuart Bartleson told the Tribune.

Stuart and Jan Bartleson live in Santa Maria, and they say they will visit the ranch to help Cal Poly with the ownership transition. The couple’s combined eight children support the decision to donate the property.

The donation of the ranch will mark one of the largest land gifts in the university’s history. Cal Poly already owns the 3,200-acre Swanton Pacific Ranch in Santa Cruz County.

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Maybe Hope Village can work this farm?

Good. Now build more housing on campus.

I can tell you from first hand experience, ‘learn by doing’ doesn’t exist within ag at CP for 90% of students.

This is a way to clear land for more engineering.

I’m always saddened when I recall how the historic Santa Margarita Ranch was bequeathed to Stanford University who then sold it to the grubbers. I wish it had been donated to Cal Poly. Maybe one day…

Laetitia haas ruined the water situation in the area.

These properties are right across the freeway from each other. On one side you have caring and compassion and on the other unabashed greed.

Certainly nothing wrong with the gift, my question is does this remove the land from the property tax rolls?

I don’t believe that property taxes are paid on property owned by the state or any of it’s divisions. So, yes, the land would be removed from the property tax rolls. Of course, if it was under the Williamson Act, those taxes might have been near zero anyway.

My concern with this is whether Cal Poly, under its current administration, will do right with the gift. They are currently considering several plans to develop various on-campus ag lands and this might just give them the excuse they need to do so. Having students drive half an hour to “learn by doing” instead of walking for 10 minutes is a reasonable option to allow prime on-campus ag land to be turned into housing, parking or even a hotel, right? (These are all options mentioned.)

The short answer is.. Yes. That’s why gifts such as this and that of Hearst castle often occur. It also removes the property from the ranchers estate so the next generation isn’t burdened with estate tax as this estate is obviously over $5.5 M.

LMAO. Smart Maths. Id gladly sell the land and pay that tax.

A very generous and well appreciated gift which will maintain the land in ag in perpetuity. I wonder if a factor that may have influenced the decision was the proposed 102 home Laetitia ag cluster. Laetitia has already dried up several neighboring water wells and is proposing to take even more. The Bartleson Ranch had to ‘stump’ 900 avocado trees due to water shortage. Regardless, a wonderful gift that will continue to keep on giving!

The Bartleson’s were friends with my in-laws many years ago.

From everything I’ve ever heard they are wonderful people.

Thank you Stu and Jan, for your most generous gift to Cal Poly and our community!

They are! I have done some major work for Mr. Bartleson in the past (he owns the Orcutt centers in Santa Maria, used to sit on the board at Mid State Bank (might still do), plus many other properties); and when doing various projects for him, he would often invite the AG kids to the Bartleson Ranch (this property in question) and use it for learn-by-doing, celebrations/parties, etc.

Stu is an old-fashioned guy who is just used to getting stuff done. He’s no saint (who is?), but he’s honest and respectable to those who treat him the same.

I am very glad that he’s turning over the ranch. Heck he was pretty old when I had worked with him 10-15 years ago, he cannot be a spring chicken now! Though, he’d probably still fool us all as he did then.