Laetitia winery development gaining approval

November 9, 2015


The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission indicated plans to approve a proposed residential development at the Laetitia Vineyard and Winery in South County if the applicant makes several plan changes. On Oct. 29, the commission voted 4-0 to instruct staff to come back in January with findings to support the commission’s approval of the Reserve at Laetitia.

Laetitia winery is located on a 1,910-acre property between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo. The vineyard is zoned for an agricultural cluster, meaning residential development can occur there, as long as the homes are clustered together and have minimal impact on surrounding farmland.

If approved, approximately 1,787 acres of the property will be preserved as open-space, which is similar in design to Edna Ranch in San Luis Obispo.

Initially, county planning staff recommended that the Planning Commission deny Selim Zilkha’s proposal to construct 101 homes grouped in eight clusters because of view shed issues, residential density and traffic congestion.

Multiple neighbors have voiced concerns about water use, some saying their nearby wells have gone dry.

Project manager Vic Montgomery said the development would not result in a net loss of irrigated agriculture, and it would offset water demands by recycling wastewater. County planners, hydrologists and the project’s environmental impact report all state there should be enough water for the development

On Oct. 29, the commissioners asked representatives of the developer to vacate plans to use well number 11 and to eliminate 19 homes on the highest lots because of view shed concerns.

The commissioners then voted unanimously to have staff provide findings to support the projects approval at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 14.

Any decision on the Reserve at Laetitia by the Planning Commission is likely to be appealed to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

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Can someone explain how any new development could be approved at this point in time, given the existing requirement to curtail water use? In other words, since there is now insufficient groundwater and surface water to meet normal demand and since groundwater and surface water resources are still in decline due lack of precipitation, why on God’s Earth would SLO county approve any residential,commercial or industrial development?

Government (writ large) is suppose to protect its citizens not only from foreign threats but domestic ones as well and the steady depletion of the the water resource is a real threat to the current residents. So, it is the obligation of the county to either prevent the threat in the first place or failing to do so, then not exacerbate the threat. But unfortunately exacerbating the threat is just what county government is doing when it approves more oil drilling in the canyon contemplates approving additional housing in the count (Avila Beach, Nipomo, etc.). This is not only irresponsible, it is reprehensible.

Until the reservoirs are brought to full pook AND the aquifer is fully recharged, the country should not even think about approving new demand for water. Given that it has, is there any way the state put a stop to his nonsense? .

It’s ALL money. Lynn Compton and Debi Arnold WILL support it.



reservoirs at full POOL!

It should be shut down entirely. It would be putting lives in danger since the SLO County Sheriffs and others have made it clear that they cannot service that area in a timely manner.

There is already a monumental access issue that is waiting for State Highway mitigation between Santa Margarita and San Luis Obispo. If this additional burden is approved then be noticed that the waiting period will be decades before the needed circulation improvements will even considered post project. If south county wants to be a cluster with blowing sands so be it but the disclosure on all affected real estate transactions will be something to consider today before the customers tomorrow.

Oh goody! More rich people moving to town.

Hi rich people! Here, take what little water we have.You deserve it. We’ll figure something out.

If this is approved, this section of 101 will become our local “blood alley”.

It was an interesting Planning Commission meeting. It looked for awhile as if the sentiment was 3 against and 1 for the project. Commissioner Eric recused himself with the excuse he missed the prior 2 meetings on the subject. As the meetings are videotaped he could have reviewed them and participated. It then looked as if we were at a 2-2 deadlock until Commissioner Irving suggested elimination of the most visually offensive cluster eliminating 19 lots. Commissioner Campbell seemed swayed by this and changed his position. Commissioner Topping apparently just wanted to go with the crowd and ultimately voted in support.

Vic Montgomery’s assertion that project water demand would be offset by recycling wastewater is incorrect. Proposed project water demand, which is understated, is 46.3 AFY. The FEIR states the project will produce 38 AFY of wastewater. The interior water duty factors in the FEIR are 14.3 AFY at the low end and 29.5 AFY at the high end. How can this quantity of wastewater offset project demand? Even these numbers are likely to be reduced by probable graywater systems.

Fourth District Commissioner Harrison said no one had come forth during the hearings to state their well was dry or that they had to lower their pumps to get water. Apparently he is either hard of hearing or was asleep during public comment as citizen testimony on the videotape documents otherwise.

Although economic considerations are not part of the CEQA review process the Commission seemed influenced by the alleged $102 million in economic benefit to the county.

It seemed obvious some Commissioners had not even read EIR response letters. Hopefully the Commission will use the time between now and the January 14, 2016 meeting to carefully review the numerous EIR response letters documenting water and other problems with this proposed project and reconsider their position.

This is a disaster in the making–and a prime example of money driven politics.

The water, traffic and wastewater concerns are valid and paramount. Concerned neighbors have voiced their opinions in an overwhelming majority to reject this project. Unfortunately, money is the only concern for the politicians, and Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold will lead the charge.

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

That’s what Lynn and Debbie are instructed to do by COLAB.