Pismo Beach man wins property rights battle

July 9, 2016

Pismo BeachA Pismo Beach man has won a legal victory last month that could impact property owners across the state. A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge ordered Pismo Beach to set aside approximately $180,000 in fines levied against a Mike Spangler for refusing to sign a city deed restriction.

In 2002, Mike Spangler purchased a 2.5 acre parcel and built his home on the lot.

Ten years later, the city asked Spangler to sign a deed restriction that would preserve the remaining portions of his property as open space. Spangler refused to sign the agreement.

The city contends the land was classified as open space when Spangler purchased the property, and that Spangler had agreed to the restrictions.

Spangler said he refused to sign the deed because it was overly restrictive. For years, Spangler had been submitting plans to the city seeking to build several additional homes on the property.

In a letter, the city ordered Spangler to withdraw his development plans and sign the deed restriction or face $500 a day in fines. The city also threatened to shut off Spangler’s utilities, Spangler said.

After making the threat, the city shut off Spangler’s utilities for 14 days and began levying fines.

In response, a judge issued a temporary restraining order that restored water and sewer services to Spangler’s home until his legal dispute with the city was resolved.

Last month, Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman ruled that the city of Pismo Beach would have to set aside the fines.

“The city clearly was using its administrative powers, including the shutting off of utilities, to bully Spangler into recording an open-space easement,” Harman wrote in her ruling. “In that scenario, the city would have been better off filing an action to compel Spangler’s compliance as opposed to resorting to administrative fines. The issuance of an administrative citation and fines did not resolve any of the contested issues.”

Harman did not rule on the validity of the deed restrictions. Spangler plans to continue to work towards developing his land.

In January, Spangler filed a federal civil rights suit claiming that the city had violated his rights when it turned off his utilities.



  1. SamLouis says:

    This guy is a snake…

    However the city fouled-up big time if it indeed required a deed restriction for the current house to be built and DID NOT STOP WORK on the existing home once work began without the required a deed restriction in place.

    One thing I would look at very closely is WHY the work was not stopped by the city if a deed restriction was indeed required? Did someone get greased (if an investigation proves this out then heads need to roll) or was the city simply sloppy?

    The previous owner sold this property fairly cheaply. Was it because the city demanded a deed restriction that severely limited the value of the property? There are still a lot of unanswered questions.

    (0) 18 Total Votes - 9 up - 9 down
    • kayaknut says:

      “heads need to roll or was the city simply sloppy” it doesn’t matter, either case no one will suffer any long term punishments, it’s the government way, let the taxpayers suffer the most.

      (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
      • SamLouis says:

        No, I don’t think so. I think there was restrictions on that property before Spangler bought it which only allowed one house to be built, hence its fairly low sales price.

        What needs to be investigated is why he was physically able to build the house without a deed restriction in place (if indeed one was required)? The city should have stopped the work as soon as it began. Who got greased and how?

        I suspect this recent (and fairly heavy-handed) action by the city was to clean-up this mess.

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

          “action by the city was to clean-up this mess”, I have an new idea, fire the city planner or whomever at the city made the mistake you say was made. The perhaps next time those city employees will do a better job, but ha ha that will never happen.

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

    This article would have been better if it had clarified several issues.

    First, did the city require a deed restriction be recorded as a condition of his building his existing home or was it being required related to some subsequent approval like subdividing his property. It seems like pieces of the puzzle are missing. While the reporter makes a good case for government overreach the absence of detail could turn this simple story from one of government abuse into something far more interesting and important.

    Second, was anything given to Spangler for this attempted taking of part of what he owned and has a right to in his property. This case is obviously not over but in a large since it affects us all.

    The current Supreme Court has ruled against the illegal taking of property rights without compensation. A change in the majority by a Democrat president will swing cases like this in favor of big abusive government. The four liberals on the court have already said the taking of property rights for public use without just compensation is OK. Something to think about come November.

    (19) 37 Total Votes - 28 up - 9 down
  3. MikeB says:

    Someone remind me… whose the city manager of Pismo and where did he come from?

    (23) 27 Total Votes - 25 up - 2 down
    • south says:

      One would think that after the fiasco of his own making in Atascadero he would be better at it down in Pismo. Do these people just rotate from job to job wreaking havock?

      (29) 33 Total Votes - 31 up - 2 down
  4. indigo1955 says:

    I know someone else who has been going through a similar situation in Pismo Beach for about 8 years. These are not the stories commonly published in the news; the stories that tell how and what local, state and federal governmental bodies do to bully, intimidate and humiliate the common citizen. The government, as a whole, wants to be able to have cameras on you, wants access to tap your phone, wants a HUGE chuck or your earnings (without a detailed statement of what it is actually being spent on), ad infinitum. You are a registered social security number, and if you have land the government wants–you are no longer human and in need of running water and electricity. And…don’t forget the big daddy of all big daddies….eminent domain (also known as appropriation and easement.

    (51) 59 Total Votes - 55 up - 4 down
  5. Rich in MB says:

    Another win for the good guys….
    The thugs and bullies in City/County/State/Fed Government all think what they want is more important than what the people want and their individual rights. Tyranny by Regulations and Administrative Fees must end!

    (32) 38 Total Votes - 35 up - 3 down
  6. just thinking says:

    Well done Spangler, well done. No one likes a bully especially when they hid under the color of authority.

    (70) 76 Total Votes - 73 up - 3 down

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