Starbucks eyeing former Los Osos bank building

August 13, 2015

Los Osos buildingBy John Lindt, publisher of Sierra2theSea

Los Osos largest shopping center changed hands in July and the new owners hope to “livin up” the center according to Clayton Gambril of family-owned Gambril Development Inc.

The Gambrils purchased the center from a partnership associated with the Williams Brothers. The 94,000 square foot retail center has a number of shop-size vacancies to fill – the largest being the former Bank of America building.

“We hope to encourage the community to see this center as their own” making it ” more bike and pedestrian friendly and having more outdoor seating,” Clayton Gambril said

The SLO-based family is toying with a new name for the shopping center, to emphasize it as a gathering place – Los Osos Central is one option, says Clayton.

The multi-generation Gambril group also own Pismo Coast Plaza shopping center anchored by California Fresh Market.

Already the Gambrils are working on sprucing up the LOVR center  improving the outdoor lighting and with plans to reduce the center’s water footprint. In addition, the family also purchased the large lot next to Haggen grocery store for future development.

The new owners won’t have to wait long to interface with Los Osos residents with plans by Starbucks to lease the long-vacant former Bank of America building that includes the drive-thru, to relocate to.

County planner Kerry Brown says a staff analysis of an application from the shopping center would allow Starbucks to use the approvals that McDonalds secured from the county in 2014 before they decided not to move forward in 2015.

“We found the application in substantial conformity with the McDonalds application,” Brown said. So that Starbucks would need only a building permit to get started. The county did turn down a request by  the big coffee retailer to offer sandwiches at this location. Starbucks move would gain a more visible location with improved access, a drive-thru and more space than they have currently down the block.

But that county staff decision has been appealed by Julie Tacker, a Los Osos activist, and the matter will go the SLO County Planning Commission August 27, Brown said. If that decision is appealed, it would go the SLO County Board of Supervisors like McDonalds did.

Tacker’s appeal asserts that there is inadequate water in Los Osos to supply the restaurant and that water calculations by the applicant “supplied inaccurate information” to the county.

A number of concerns are likely to surface as they did in the McDonalds controversy including parking, use of a drive-thru, water and whether the community should welcome chain-type eateries – although the coffee giant is already there.

Gambril says they plan to offer more outdoor seating not just at a new Starbucks but in front of Carlock’s Bakery as well and new bike racks in front of the gym.

Today, the Los Osos center is anchored by Haggens, Rite Aid and Miners. The market was a former Vons which in turn had bought  out 19 Williams Bros stores in 1992 although the Williams Bros retained the property in this case, until sold last month.

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The Planning Commission should deny Ms. Tackers appeal because the

proposed Starbucks

uses less water than the previously approved use (McDonald’s) and therefore this change in

tenancy substantially conforms to the previous approval”

Yep Mrs Tacker, you lost, wasted yours and others time!


Julie, your remark is disingenuous, you are against any real solution to resolve our water issue. CalCoastNews states they like to uncover the real story, the story called you an activist. From what I can tell you were at one point a real advocate for our community, but I’m having trouble seeing how blocking sewer, water, drive through businesses except pharmacies or banks, and then undermining a family that we are lucky enough to have willing invest millions in our community’ is helping anyone but a small cadre of haters.Sadly after looking online at folks who challenged your actions in the past were considered hostile and removed from CalCoastNews comments. It’s funny, this is the first time I have actually decided to look closely at the often ridiculed activism in Los Osos, I must say this is all quite discouraging. It’s like an old black and white western where a few folks in black hats run roughshod over the helpless town and all avenues of redress are blocked. Well the boarded up businesses will provide our teens with plenty of graffiti space, and we will all drive to MB, SLO and AG for work and jobs. We are greatful to have an activist like you and I’m sure you have a circle of buddies that reassure you that your doing the right thing, thank for watching out for us.


Julie, would you like to share with us what you DO want? At this point you want us all to drive by a boarded up bank building and I’m sure you will block any use of the Haggen store that didn’t suit you too. So now you would have our town look like the abandond “Love Canal” community? By the way the thermal and moderate saline elevation in desal outflow is not considered to have any measurable negative impact, but I’m sure that is irrelevant to you since it’s not the actual issue with you is it? I am always willing to change my mind with new information, are you? How do you envision the ideal Los Osos ? The right way to help our community is have a vision of what you DO want and get us to support it, not what you DON’T want, and rationalizing it with a red herring argument every time something shows up you don’t like. Obstructionist behavior usually ends badly for everyone, don’t erase the good that you and your family have done in the community.



Once there’s water for the community we can talk about all the possibilities for Los Osos.

Check back with me then.


Julie, I am glad we have had this exchange. The entire community needs to know what your real agenda is. You have decided that you are going to use the “water issue” to shape the community the way that you see fit. Somebody else owns that property, not you. You have not been elected by the public to protect their interest. You laid out specific types of business that would be acceptable to you. I have saved all of your comments and will be sure to use them to expose your true motives at every opportunity.. I will distribute them to any business or property owner that you oppose so that they can demonstrate to the elected officials that you force these issues to go in front of what your real motivation is. You are a dangerous and evil person.


mbbizpro says: “You are a dangerous and evil person.”

Enough about each other, you know better.

Also mbbizpro, you can submit your own opinion piece to the emails to the right.


Once the water issues for Los Osos are resolved, just like vacant lots will be built on, new water using businesses can proceed.

The water issue is going to shape the community, commercial-ly and residential-ly for for the foreseeable future. Just as it has for the last 30 years with the waste discharge prohibition, i.e. no new bedrooms or bathrooms. Buildings torn down to acquire “credits” to build (i.e. Ralphs, Bonaire).

The McDonald’s approval included a 1.6 to 1 water offset for mitigation of its use. Every new home that is built outside the prohibition zone since 2008 has been required to offset its use at 2:1. (You may have heard the county is pursuing a 1:1 offset requirement for all of the unincorporated area of this county right now, Los Osos has been required to offset at 2:1 for the last 7 years). The Los Osos Groundwater basin is experiencing seawater intrusion at an alarming rate. The community has done a marvelous job at conserving water, yet the wedge continues to advance. Evidence of it has been found as far east as the library, +/- a mile from the ocean shore. The water conscious requirements are not mine, these rules have been in place for a long time.

In the instant case, I am exposing the applicants error to the PC and holding them accountable. The basin is as much mine as it is any other property owner’s. The shopping center uses a lot of water and could do a better job at conserving.

I have not been elected by the public, this is correct. I am exercising my right in a process that is available to anyone.

Go ahead distribute my comments to whomever you want. I stand by the numbers and will continue to stand up for the basin. If this makes me dangerous and evil, so be it.


I am saying you are against it, an I find it insulting to think that the transparent motivations thinly veiled by your concern over water usage would fool anyone. Given the problem with the water table here had efforts to block the sewer been successful we would have another Love Canal with human sewage in our wells. Do you understand precisely the environmental impact if a desalination plant? If you did you wouldn’t be against it, I have studied the discharge chemistry and it is safe. I have seen many good folks with high integrity do good in a community but then believed they were the sole decider of what their community needed, and crashed and burned. I am scared of change too, but trying to keep Los Osos in the past is not the right way. You mentioned you want to shape it, well that’s fine, but keep in mind we want the investment we all made in our homes to grow, we want resources local instead of having to go to MB or SLO for everything and we are happy to support the local small business so long as they offer a better choice and price, the citizens of this town worked hard for what we have and deserve the fruits of our labor. I don’t have any monitory or other interest in Starbucks or McDonalds, but if the town didn’t want them they would close up and leave because of sales. To block these businesses before that is “Shaping” what you decided we will have. That is our decision not what a few self proclaimed champions tell us they decided for us.


I do not object to the Starbucks and as much as I didn’t like McDonald’s my objections to both projects are about the water use. Period. I don’t like drive thru restaurants and wish the site would again be a bank or perhaps a drive thru pharmacy instead, but that is not what I’m challenging now is it?

As far as desal; I am opposed to putting salt back in the ocean where it desecrates the ocean floor and every living thing around it. Call me crazy. I am opposed to its high cost. I am opposed to its high energy use, which has its own environmental impacts.

I want local shops to shop at too, I have lived here nearly all my life (since 1971) and have had to leave LO to buy every pair of shoes I have ever owned (except Rite Aid flip flops and slippers). I wish I could recommend a local restaurant; I can’t, especially since the rash of closings last spring.

I want to continue to live here, I would prefer to work here, but most my jobs have been in SLO — like most everyone else in this bedroom community.

As far as this Starbucks project goes, I want its water to be allocated fairly. The approval for McDonald’s was for 980 gpd. not 1250 as the applicant asserts. I am hopeful the PC recognizes that and the vacant space can be whatever low water user the landlord can find to fill it.

I really want residential to be able to add bedrooms and bathrooms to their homes. This increases their property value directly; verses “nudging” commercial forward for an indirect benefit to property values.

I have seen many changes in Los Osos. Even with it’s resource constraints we’ve seen a lot of changes. Heck the current Starbucks was a real estate office not that long ago.


Shame on you. These people invested to buy real estate. That spot has been vacant for years and you have the audacity to think that you should decide that a low water use tenant should be there. If you want that type of control you should buy the property and let is sit vacant. You are impacting the lives of many people to suit the agenda that you feel none of the rest of us are smart enough to understand. We understand exactly what you are doing. We disagree strongly with you and detest your methods and your belief that you should be able to do things like this.


Real estate is a gamble. The previous owner must have disclosed the properties limitations to the buyer. Just as all property owners and Realtor’s do for Los Osos properties.

The BofA spot has been vacant for years, the $2.25 per square foot rent rate may have been the reason as much as the building’s water and wastewater limitations.

I understand Nicols Pizza wanted it, but the shopping center didn’t want another pizza place to compete with Round Table. I heard from other restaurateurs who were turned away by the county based on the water limitations. McDonald’s braved the process and was approved for 980 gpd, not 1250 gpd. Simple as that.


What is your point? Of course Real Estate is a gamble. Why didn’t you protest the Nichols Pizza project? I am certain that the recession had as much to do with the vacancy as anything. Why is it an issue that the landlord was interested in the success of his current tenant and did not want to increase competition in the same center. The people of your ilk are the reason that McDonalds in not there with other limitations placed on them, after they worked out the water issue.


Nicols Pizza replaced Taco Roco. The water use was established and not a new draw on the basin.

Yeah, the recession was a factor, no one could afford $8,000 a month.

McDoanld’s and/or Starbucks would draw more water than the bank ever did. The McDonald’s project met the threshold for a Minor Use Permit because it exceeded 2,500 sq. ft. This gave the public the right to participate in the approval. The water use numbers presented from the very beginning were screwy. It appears the applicant’s representative is at it again, submitting numbers that aren’t accurate.

What “other limitations” were on the McDonald’s project that may have led to their pulling out of the deal? Restricting hours was the only one I remember. That was never a deal killer. Have you seen McDonald’s stock? They are closing restaurants all over the world. This was never a good location for McDonald’s, LO demographics likely would not have supported it.


Just in the post above you were mentioning that so many restaurants closed last spring, thus the total amount of water used by restaurants was reduced, enough for moving Starbucks? Simple math?!

Your reasoning cannot be the total water volumes, you have a different agenda… but I joined Los Osos not to long ago, perhaps i will learn what your motivations are.

“08/15/2015 at 8:45 pm

I wish I could recommend a local restaurant; I can’t, especially since the rash of closings last spring.”


Where should the water come from to your opinion?

It seems all you know is blocking progress, you are against a PG&E pipeline that would bring a biking/hiking path into Los Osos, plus desalinated water from the power plant produced at night when energy demand is low. The argument of salt returned to the Ocean would hurt ocean live, LOL humbugh.

“On a recent talk radio show Los Osos activists Julie Tacker and Jeff Edwards discounted the idea of running a pipeline form Diablo to Los Osos saying it is “no magic pill” citing high energy costs to make potable water and the cost of building a pipeline at “ $3 to 4 million a mile.”

”Nobody is going to save us” philosophized Tacker.

This seems to reflect this antipathy to importing supplemental water.

As for the cost, a county estimate in the Basin Plan to pipe water from El Chorro pipeline to Los Osos is estimated at $1.5 million a mile.”

Funny thing is if we dont do anything we will all run out of water including you!

When the time comes and you scared all investors away we will not have the funds to fix the issue. Plain said you seem to be a hypocrite.

The LOSG asserts that the Basin Plan in

creases the likelihood th

at their water and

wastewater will become unaffordable insofar as

it will likely result in the loss of the

Basin to seawater intrusion, requiring the comm

unity to fund a large desalination facility.

The Basin Plan estimates the cost for such

a facility at over $

100 million (see Page 3).

Given water shortages in the area and throughout

the state, imported water is not likely to

be available or tech

nically feasible.

The Los Osos Basin is one of the most endange

red Basins in the stat

e. It is designated a

“high priority” Basin in the

Sustainable Groundwater Manageme

nt Act. It is facing the

state’s worst drought on recor

d, at a time when the Basi

n is also about to undergo

changes that will bring about major hydrol

ogical disruptions with unknown and possibly

devastating consequences.


With the announced closure of Haggen’s, Starbucks is the least of Los Osos’ worries.


Wait a minute! Bare with me as I get caught up here! Diablo generates 850,000 gallons a day and have all but offered us all the water we would ever need and Juile is against it? So I think that certainly clears up two things, it’s not about water, it’s about a feeling of entitlement because of being a long term resident and gathering a vocal minority to control development as they see it. Time to organize and fight back, this town belongs to the majority not a few eccentric activists.


Who said I was against it?

I want to know how much it would cost and who would pay for it. I am pretty sure Los Osos can’t afford it.

I don’t like desal for it’s environmental impacts, but clearly the desal is already going on out there and I’d like to see the feasibility study before saying yes or no. I am skeptical for sure, and would guess it’s more costly than State or Naci for Los Osos. I am 100% certain that if it’s intended for growth over sustainability, the Coastal Commission will kill it early on.


Another thing, a single person can appeal and stop a project? If that is true then that’s the problem. Let me channel Trump for a second…. So a intelligent but perverse person can hold the entire towns development hostage? The system needs to be fixed if that’s true.


A single person can appeal a project.

The governing body can stop the project based on appeal contentions. That is not my intent. I intend to shape the project, by refining the water allocation for the two spaces inside the building.


Why should you be shaping any project for which you have invested nothing?


I have invested in my community more than you’ll ever know. I am invested in the water basin and fair and equitable treatment for all property owners. I am not in favor of giving this, or any other property “a pass” to use more water than its allocated approval.