Grover Beach Council approves conference center again

clambert@thetribunenews.comApril 8, 2014 

The Grover Beach City Council this week unanimously approved a permit for a flagship hotel and conference center project – again.

The council’s action came about four months after its original approval of a coastal development permit for the Grover Beach Lodge and Conference Center, a 150-room hotel planned for West Grand Avenue and Highway 1.

But after that December meeting, two appeals and a procedural error prompted city staff to recommend the council rescind its approval and reconsider the item, which it did Monday.

The council’s approval now opens up a new appeal period. Friends of Oceano Dunes, a not-for-profit corporation representing about 28,000 members, wrote a letter Sunday urging the council to deny the project until its concerns have been addressed.

In addition, several local equestrians remain concerned that the project doesn’t include a large enough area for them to unload their horses and maneuver their trucks and trailers. The project includes about 10,000 square feet for recreational vehicles and equestrian use.

Envisioned since 1982, the lodge and conference center spans 121,000 square feet spread over four buildings on 13 acres. The project – a joint effort between State Parks and San Diego-based Pacifica Companies – would be built on a state-owned dirt lot that sits next to the beach, where visitors have parked their recreational vehicles and horse trailers for years.

The city has agreed to complete about $7 million in public improvements, including providing an equestrian staging area, a new putting green and street upgrades, and moving some utility lines underground. The entire project is estimated to cost more than $30 million.

After the December approval, two California Coastal Commission members appealed the project because it did not include a condition to prohibit a seawall from being built in the future. State Parks and commission staff eventually drafted a condition to satisfy that concern.

Friends of Oceano Dunes also raised several issues in an appeal, including the removal of the current vacant lot used by recreational vehicle and equestrians, and the proposed relocation of an RV dump station currently located on the project site.

The group’s president, Jim Suty, and San Francisco-based attorney Thomas D. Roth could not be reached for comment Tuesday on whether they plan to appeal. Roth sent a letter Sunday arguing that the vacant lot has been used as a staging area since the 1960s, which “constitutes an implied dedication of public use … and its use cannot be changed by the city, State Parks (or) the developer.”

In a previous interview, Grover Beach City Manager Bob Perrault said the use of the site has always been informal. Perrault has been meeting with local equestrian groups and the county to try to create an alternate area for them to stage and park near the beach in Oceano.

But until then, some frequent users of the dirt lot off West Grand Avenue say they need a larger area than the planned 10,000 square feet.

“I may be able to get in, but I won’t be able to get out,” said Deah Rudd, who lives in Arroyo Grande. “If there’s no place to park, where can we access the beach?”

 

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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