Los Osos group sues county for approving residential project map | News | San Luis Obispo

Bulbul Rajagopal

Tensions surrounding water availability in Los Osos led a group of homeowners to sue SLO County over development plans.

The Los Osos Sustainability Group, which champions the long-term viability of the Los Osos Groundwater Basin, sued the county, its supervisors, and Redondo Beach-based Anastasi Development Company on Dec. 27, 2023, for approving a final project map without complying with conditions set in 1990.

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  • Photo Taken From SLO County Board Of Supervisors Staff Report
  • ROCKY START The Anastasi Development Company wants to install 97 residential units on the 20-acre parcel on Pecho Road in Los Osos but it faces troubles with connecting to an approved sewer system, proving enough water exists to serve the units, and now a lawsuit from the Los Osos Sustainability Group.

“Petitioners contend that the county abused its discretion by approving the project because the conditions precedent to the approval and filing of a final map were not satisfied as of the time of the approval, and the county’s approval of the final map violated the Coastal Act because the previously approved coastal development permit for the [tentative] map had already expired,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit—also filed by Los Osos resident and sustainability group Chair Patrick McGibney—details issues with a 33-year-old residential project proposal brought forward by the Anastasi Development Company. The contentious tract map plots boundaries for a roughly 20-acre parcel on Pecho Road that’s subdivided into 100 lots. The county approved a tentative version of the map as well as a coastal development permit in 1991. But the Board of Supervisors at the time also placed two conditions on the map to ensure sufficient water supply and sewer capacity for the project before approving a final iteration of the map.

Those conditions stated that the residential project must connect to a community-wide sewer system approved by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Anastasi company must show an adequate available water supply before it files the final map.

Burdened by a lack of building growth since 1988 and an overdrafted groundwater basin, Los Osos community members hold opposing views about the severity of the area’s water problems.

While the Los Osos Water Recycling Facility provides sewer service to existing developments, projects like Anastasi’s cannot be hooked up to it because of a California Coastal Commission caveat in the coastal development plan. It prevents SLO County from providing sewer service to new development in Los Osos until the commission approves a change to the county’s general plan. The commission still hasn’t accepted the county’s proposal for the amendment.

“Petitioners are informed and believe and, on that basis, allege that the main reason the Coastal Commission has not approved the revised Estero Plan is the continued uncertainty surrounding the availability of adequate water supplies in Los Osos,” the lawsuit stated.

The original map approval in 1991 has received five state-mandated extensions, three five-year stays from the Board of Supervisors, five extensions from the county Planning Commission, and a year-and-a-half-long “COVID extension.”

Despite the conditions set by their predecessors, the SLO County Board of Supervisors approved the Anastasi project’s final map on Oct. 31, 2023, in a 3-2 vote with 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson and 4th District Supervisor Jimmy Paulding dissenting.

Gibson, who represents Los Osos, said at the meeting that he voted against the final map based on a “very easy and clear reading” of the sewer service connection condition.

He also touched on the adequate water supply condition. The Anastasi company attempted to show water availability by presenting a “conditional can and will serve” letter from the Golden State Water Company that agreed to provide domestic water and fire protection services.

“Let me point out that Golden State Water did not definitively say that they had, at this time, an adequate water supply to serve the development,” Gibson said on Oct. 31. “There is language in their conditional can and will serve letter that suggests that there may be projects that could lead to an adequate water supply, but those projects aren’t spelled out.”

Several Los Osos residents urged supervisors to reject the final map. Beth Reineke, a Los Osos Basin Management Committee board member, spoke on behalf of S&T Mutual Water Company.

“The will-serve issue by Golden State Water is their commitment to adding more money to their annual profits by pumping more water from our basin and nothing more,” she said.

However, the majority of the supervisors approved the final map on county staff’s recommendation. Assistant County Counsel Jon Ansolabehere said at the meeting that the board’s discretion narrowly focuses on whether the county has substantially complied with the two conditions.

The supervisors’ decision underscores their stance on Los Osos’ water woes, according to McGibney.

“By the county approving these, they’re basically saying, ‘OK, these weren’t to be approved until we had adequate water, and the sewer was ready to hook up. Therefore, we believe there is adequate water, and the sewer is ready to be hooked up to,’ which is not the case,” he told New Times on Jan. 2.

County Counsel Rita Neal told New Times that her office is waiting to be served the lawsuit.

“We were made aware a couple of weeks ago that there would likely be a challenge to the county’s approval of the final map for Tract 1646,” she said. “Once served, we will actively defend this matter.” Δ

Bulbul Rajagopal www.newtimesslo.com News/News

2024-01-04 12:00:00 , News, New Times San Luis Obispo –

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