Tompkins’ Arroyo Grande project to be reheard

September 30, 2015

OPINION by JULIE TACKER

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the Special Meeting of the Arroyo Grande City Council on Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. to reconsider the action taken Sept. 8, when the council approved the long-controversial Courtland and Grand “mixed use” project proposed by NKT Commercial, L.L.C. — local developer Nick Tompkins.

The project as proposed is predominately a residential “mixed use” project in the city’s commercial district on Grand Avenue. This gateway parcel is at the westerly border of Arroyo Grande, where the City of Grover Beach begins. Mixed-use development is defined as any urban, suburban or village development, or even a single building, that blends a combination of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and that provides pedestrian connections.

The project has morphed many times over the last several years including a “carve off” of land from the site for the People’s Self Help Housing (PSHH) project that was built a few years ago. The current iteration of the project proposes 38 residential lots and just three commercial lots – comprising a mere 15,000 square feet of commercial business — on just over four acres of land. The commercial component is about half the size of the Smart and Final building across the street, which also happens to be owned by NKT.

In order to approve this project the city’s general plan must be amended to allow for this much housing as is being proposed. In doing so, the city would be giving up important long-standing goals. The adjacent PSHH project was the primary residential part of the “mix” in the mixed use project. The remaining vacant four acres was to be built out commercially with retail and offices, in part, to serve those neighbors and to provide much needed sales tax revenue to the city.

The community’s goal, as it relates to jobs-housing balance, refers to the approximate (equal) distribution of employment opportunities and workforce population within the immediate area. If the subject property were built-out as mostly commercial, the project would not only serve the neighborhood, but may also employ at least a “handful” of residents living in the Berry Gardens subdivision.

In August, a notice of public hearing was mailed to all property owners within 300 feet of the project site and all neighbors in the Berry Gardens neighborhood. The public notice advertised the hearing at the wrong address and the turnout was poor. The error was discovered after the council took action, approving the controversial project, without significant representation from those neighbors likely to be effected by the impacts of 38 new homes “shoehorned” into a commercial site at a highly visible location.

Appropriately, the city has agreed to reconsider the matter and the Berry Gardens neighbors have been re-noticed. All interested parties will have another opportunity to address the council to make their concerns known. With such input, some council members may reconsider their prior support for the project.

The Arroyo Grande City Council should deny the proposal, as their planning commission recommended, or shape the project further with condition, so the project may better fit the needs and goals of the city.

See you Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers at 215 E. Branch Street, to make your concerns known.

SLO County Activist Julie Tacker caught the city’s noticing error and Brown Act Violation and requested the matter be reheard.


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17 Comments

  1. r0y says:

    Underwhelming architecture. Architorture is more like it. Glad they hid most of the prison-looking buildings behind the vegetation. Just goes to show, the developer doesn’t want to pay to have any serious renderings or design, just a brick box with flowers out front. Great. Yeah, all the character is in a trellis. Fantastic.

    Nothing better than a trellis along the busiest vehicle traffic path in town. Awesome. Can’t wait to sip yet another over-priced, mediocre coffee from yet another strip mall coffee wannabe. Think there might be a nail place or a check-cashing spot, too? One could only hope.

    (5) 13 Total Votes - 9 up - 4 down
    • r0y says:

      Lol, figured out why it looks like crap: RRM. The graphic is cut off, but can be seen full width here.

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  2. sbjcl says:

    This project is a disaster. Tompkins continues to hustle the AG council like he did with his Village rip-off. The council needs to listen to the people and follow the planning commission recommendation.

    (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down
    • agag1 says:

      Guthrie, Barneich, and now Harmon, appear willing to continue the tradition of allowing NKT to have his way.
      Who wants to bet he builds the residential, cashes that in, and then tries to spin the commercial? Re$idential i$ where the $$$ i$, and even though Mr. Tompkins claims he doesn’t do residential–between this project and Cherry Ln, it seems he does.

      (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  3. justbeware says:

    Both Guthrie and Barneich are longtime NKT fans.
    Seems they will vote to approve any project he brings forth. Not to worry, as Guthrie claims, most of these problems will be “self correcting”. With planning like that, is it any wonder nearly every recent project is underparked?
    Sad to see Harmon fall for the developer talking points. I’d hoped for better from her, but she disappoints more and more frequently.

    (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
  4. hijinks says:

    This is headline news! Really. Seriously. The city of AG sounds like a great place, and sets a good example its corrupt neighbor up 101 might want to follow. These sorts of noticing messes happen all the time in city of SLO, and what do they do? Pretend they don’t make any difference, and go full speed ahead. The city’s hearing officer, Doug Davidson, is especially arrogant about insisting noticing failures and Brown Act violations make no difference — he just approves everything whether he should nor not. If you don’t like it, you have to pay hundreds to appeal his corrupt decisions. SLOcity sucks.

    (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
    • r0y says:

      AG has to be one of the most confused cities I’ve seen around here. General Plan? What’s that? Oh, it’s that thing they always change, so the city is a cluster-F of development. Nice.

      I suppose if one screws up their city so much, it ultimately will be considered “character” or something. Right?

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

    Glad I was not the only person confused about where and when the discussion about this project was going to be held. Due to the confusion I missed the last one but will not miss the next one. Barbara Harmon, Jim Hill, and Tim Brown if you are interested in another term in office I recommend you follow the planning commission recommendation and deny the application, we already know Karen Barneich and Jim Guthrie are a lost cause and hopefully after the next election their seats will be occupied by new and true representatives of the people and not of only the “special” people.

    (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
    • surferdude says:

      WHY HAVE A PLANNING COMMISSION IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO ABIDE BY THEIR RECOMMENDATION????
      It is INSULTING.
      The Council gets paid and bennies, but the PC are true volunteers AND THEN THEY DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM.

      Under parked? YES
      No Sunshine? YES

      If Arroyo Grande is such a wonderful place to live, why on earth do they continue to build homes that have no where to enjoy Arroyo Grande.

      These HOMES are going to look like the MONSTERS on the HILL next to Orchard Supply. Yuck! They are 1,700 square feet on a 2,100 square foot lot!

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  6. doglover says:

    A LOW INCOME APRTMENT COMPLEX AT ONE END.
    A SMALL COMMERCIAL STRIP CENTER AT THE OTHER.

    And of course, what is the transition planning??? 38 SINGLE FAMILY HOMES on lots the size of a 7/11 store!
    A Cal Poly class on City & Regional Planning would get an F for *UCK UP for that one!

    The land should have had the original Berry Garden patio homes be the buffer from Berry Gardens. The 2 apartment buildings should have been the TRANSITION to the COMMERICAL.

    BUT NO! Big Tony wanted his name on a bronze plaque. He’s off to Palm Springs and we are left with NKT trying to pull a fast one.

    WALK AWAY. IT IS NOT A GOOD TIME TO DEVELOP.
    LET THE LAND sit. OR…
    JUST BUILD THE COMMERICAL PORTION AND WAIT.

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

      Agreed, and thumbs up!
      Developers are NOT thinking of the community. Just $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
    • obispan says:

      “Build the commercial portion and wait”? I will save the readers the repeated annoyance of all caps writing. Lots of vacant commercial everywhere you look while at the same time people are looking to buy houses. And it’s not like Berry Gardens is some historic neighborhood. It just got built! Every new “local” from LA wants to think that their house will be the last ever.

      (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
      • justbeware says:

        If a developer doesn’t want to build commercial, he shouldn’t buy commercial property.

        (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
        • surferdude says:

          Thumbs up!
          Purchasing property on Grand Avenue, NKT knew they might have to wait and see. So wait and see.

          Maybe more apartments would be better than the large homes on silly small lots??

          (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
          • unlisted says:

            More apartments are needed because that’s all that locals can afford, but apartments aren’t as profitable as for-sale homes.

            (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
        • kayaknut says:

          But Nick thought he would always have Mayor Big Tony is his pocket and would be able to do what ever he wanted. Let’s hope those times are but a memory, Barbara, Jim H and Tim, listen to your planning department and the voters

          (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down

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