Dalidio Ranch in San Luis Obispo is being sold

Saying the deal is a ‘private matter,’ owner Ernie Dalidio confirms that his ranch, which he was never able to develop, is in escrow

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 24, 2013 

The controversial Dalidio Ranch — once the focus of multiple ballot measures and lawsuits — is in escrow, according to owner Ernie Dalidio, who battled to develop the San Luis Obispo property for 20 years.

While Dalidio confirmed that the property is being sold, he did not want to reveal any more details.

“It’s a private matter,” he said Friday, adding that more details would be forthcoming. “Both parties need to be protected in this.”

The ranch has been listed at $19.75 million.

While Dalidio has long sought to develop the 131-acre ranch, west of Highway 101, he has fought opposition, both from environmental groups and downtown businesses in San Luis Obispo. Meanwhile, he’s seen stores such as Target and Old Navy — once prospective developers on the Dalidio property — build on nearby properties.

The ranch became an election issue in 2005, though the battle had already been going for several years. After the city of San Luis Obispo agreed to the annexation and development of the land, registered voter petitions in opposition to the project forced the city to place the issue on a ballot, and the proposed development was narrowly defeated. Dalidio responded with the countywide Measure J in 2006. After an aggressive campaign that included numerous TV commercials featuring Dalidio, the measure won overwhelming support from 65 percent of county voters.

The measure called for developing 530,000 square feet of retail development — including a Target store often dangled before voters — a business park, a hotel, 60 housing units, an organic farm, a farmers market, a butterfly sanctuary and a sports field.

Superior Court Judge Roger Piquet invalidated the measure two years later, but the state Court of Appeal later overturned his ruling. Four years after the election, downtown business owners Jim and Tom Copeland were fined $80,000 by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for concealing more than $220,000 in contributions toward the campaign against Dalidio’s efforts.

In the years since the Measure J battle, though, the Dalidio Ranch controversy has quieted. Meanwhile, an Old Navy opened in 2007 at the nearby Irish Hills Plaza, and a Target opened in 2011 at the Prefumo Creek Commons, both properties owned by Madonna Enterprises.

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