The house that San Luis Obispo Councilwoman Jan Marx built

July 7, 2024

San Luis Obispo Councilwoman Jan Marx


After battling for, against, and then for development of the former Dalidio Ranch, San Luis Obispo City Councilwoman Jan Marx moved into the complex, in a home plan restricted to affordable housing.

Even though Coastal Community Builders told prospective buyers the farmhouse design was designated affordable housing with limited availability, Marx and her husband Steve purchased their farmhouse design home for $707,000 on Jan. 13, 2022. While the design was limited to affordable housing, it appears Marx paid full price for her home.

For decades, Marx appears to have had a love-hate relationship with the former Dalidio Ranch, now known as San Luis Ranch.

In 2000, Councilwoman Marx and former Councilman John Ewan served as representatives in negotiations to annex Ernie Dalidio’s proposed project into the city. Marx and Ewan negotiated until they came up with a proposal that included 46% open space in the project, and a contract with Dalidio to purchase additional lands to be designated open space.

Much to the surprise of Ewan, Marx voted against the project when it went in front of the City Council.

“She (Marx) then did an about face and said ‘No,’ ” Ewan told CalCoastNews at the time. “She has said that the end justifies the means. It makes me think that she was not negotiating in good faith.”

After she was on the losing end of the vote, she helped launch a political campaign to stop the project.

A trail of receipts, credit card statements and reimbursement checks shows that Marx handled everyday campaign duties from the start of the fight in 2004 through Nov. 2006. She also printed campaign flyers, purchased campaign supplies and handled some advertising with local media.

And while Marx claimed she was part of a grassroots effort to protect farmland, state regulators later determined the campaign was funded by a pair of downtown developers working to stop competing development.

In Oct. 2010, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) levied $80,000 in fines against developers Tom and Jim Copeland, and banker David Booker for committing 16 campaign violations in their secretive battle against Dalidio’s project.

The three-year FPPC investigation into the funneling of cash and gifts to the campaigns to stop Dalidio’s proposed development revealed Marx was part of the illicit effort.

In 2013, Dalidio abandoned his plan to create a 131-acre mixed-use development on his land adjacent to Highway 101 near Madonna Road, and put the property up for sale for nearly $20 million. Shortly afterwards, Clint Pearce of Madonna Enterprises and Gary Grossman of Coastal Community Builders made an offer on the property.

Unlike Dalidio’s project, Grossman’s planned development consistently overcame regulatory hurdles. Previously, the San Luis Obispo County Airport Land Use Commission set limits restricting the plans of developers, like Grossman, who sought to build high-density housing on the city’s southern edge.

On April 1, 2014, the SLO City Council voted unanimously to instruct staff to begin working on development agreements with Grossman, with Mayor Marx saying she did not want to rehash the controversy.

“We do not need to go back to the bad old days,” Marx said.

In fall 2014, while former SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill aggressively attempted to persuade members of the SLO City Council to vote in favor of a land use change needed for higher density at the proposed San Luis Ranch, Grossman made a $50,000 donation to Hill’s wife, Dee Torres-Hill’s, nonprofit SLO Housing Connection. Led by Mayor Marx, the council then voted 4-1 in favor of the airport land use change, with then-Councilman Dan Carpenter dissenting.

Marx did not return recent requests for comment.

In an odd twist, FBI agents arrested developer Ryan Wright in 2023 on a three-count indictment that includes allegations he bribed Supervisor Hill to get support from San Luis Obispo officials regarding airport land use restrictions, according to the indictment.

Councilwoman Marx is currently running for reelection.


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This is stunning to me. I don’t know WHY, but it is. I thought that there was a time when there were “good guys” on the City Council who actually cared about this town.

Someone should look into Dawn Ortiz Legg as well. She bought a 4 bedroom house in San Luis Obispo City in 2020 for less than $600,000. Therefore, she is only paying property taxes on that amount but that house was actually around 1.5 million at the time of sale. Interesting how these people keep repeating the phrase “ the rich don’t pay their fair share” but they are the ones actually not paying their fair share through cheating. I highly encourage you all to ask Supervisor Dawn Ortiz Legg to pay her fair share.

Holy S&&T! As one commenter said, ‘Yet another GLARING example . . .’ And this must be the tip of the corruption iceberg! No one in SLO is paying attention. So the ruination of our beloved area continues on and so much of it under the guise of ‘affordable housing.’ That’s a big understated wink, wink. NO ONE in SLO is paying attention. That’s how they end up with these greedy people on city council. PLEASE SLO voters. Vote these people OFF!

Keep these articles coming, please.

Yet another GLARING example of the type of corruption, backroom dealings and nod and a handshake fuckery that takes place in Governmental actions and movements on the daily (hell at this point I dont believe a mere SECOND passes by in the operational times in which buisness is done that is without some form or another of corruption, coercion, and malfeasance being commited by those we have “appointed” our so called “Representatives”.) As is historically ALWAYS the case, here is yet another example of those who, in any OTHER time throughout the ages, would be labeled “The Ruling Class” (instead of, foolishly, the “Elected Representative Sector” which has a nice ring to it…you know if you view it in a naive, almost childlike innocence before realizing the cruelty and suffering that dogs the heels of MOST regular folk existing in REALITY) taking FULL advantage of the perks their afforded, and even furthering it into not just taking advantage, but twisting,, warping, cojoling and manipulating these perks and perceived “authority” in order for them to squeeze every drop of personal gain out of any given situation, NO matter the legality, the ethical liability NOR even the moral bankruptcy one would be subjected to (well that would pertain ONLY in a sane and just world and those systems which kept society chooching along, and we ALL know we’ve done lost sight of that through the glossing scope LONG ago) SHOULD they be held accountable for their actions. And this is THE RULE nowadays, and FAR from just the EXCEPTION. And it infects every INCH of this Nation, NOT just here in the city and County of SLO. EVERY which way one turns throughout the WHOLE of this country, this GARBAGE persists, and worse still, ACCELERATES! There is ONE common denominator folks, and NO, its NOT Right or Left, NOT Liberal or Conservative, and MOST definitely isn’t Democrat NOR Republican. No, what the common denominator IS…IS GOVERNMENT AS A WHOLE. It always was, always has been, always WILL be a pestilence set upon the common man, a plague, designed and implemented to draw from the populace the lifesblood that allows one to endure and produce. Government is parasitic in nature, its own life sustaining systems designed and REQUIRING the sacrifice of its host. And with Government, at least THIS government in THIS day and age in THIS nation…WE are the host this life draining Vector has attached itself to. And yet when will MOST learn. Sadly they will not, believing that WE just ABSOLUTELY could NOT exist if not for Daddy Gub’mint dogging our heels and pilfering our pants pockets. Disgusting. ABSOLUTELY disgusting, despicable and pathetic to the HIGHEST degree imaginable.

As Samuel Adam’s once said…

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask from ye not your counsels, nor your arms. Crouch down now and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Nothing new here. “Affordable housing” is a euphemism for a kickback scheme to allow politicians to get their bribes obscured by questionably legal manipulations. It’s just another version of Adam Hill’s “consulting” business except it has the added benefit that the politicians can characterize their action as helping people. It has been going on a long time. I remember the same thing happening in Pismo Beach several decades ago. The “affordable housing” was bought up by politicians only to be sold at the market rate. Thanks Karen for pointing this out, but I would be shocked if anything was done about it.

I remember Pismo’s affordable housing cash cow for those in the know. I was approached by a city employee and told to act now as the houses were selling fast to city officials, I did not partake and have never supported affordable housing since.

Great article Karen. Thanks again for putting a bright light on the corruption in our local government.

This recent Psychology Today article may provide insight into some dynamics at play here that Cal Coast News is bravely reporting.

Seems like the Pied Piper has drafted too many rats to follow them.

San Luis Obispo city/county government – come for the climate, stay for the affordable housing.