Construction on the 128-room hotel at the end of Stimson and Hinds avenues is already on hold as the developer awaits a public hearing with the California Coastal Commission, after approvals by the city Planning Commission and City Council earlier this year were appealed to the state panel. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.
A group called Central Coast Environmental Protection filed a petition with the San Luis Obispo Superior Court on July 2, claiming the city of Pismo Beach "failed to adequately consider the project's potential impacts on the environment," group member Ted Case said. Case, a Pismo Beach resident, was also one of the five people to appeal the project to the Coastal Commission.
According to Case, the group's major complaint is that the city and property owner Nexus Companies failed to analyze the hotel's potential impacts on water supplies, especially in light of the drought.
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The council declared a critical water shortage May 19, paving the way for a potential building moratorium if drought conditions do not improve. The council voted against establishing the moratorium at that time.
Two weeks later on June 2, the council approved the BeachWalk Resort project.
"How can you two weeks before, say there is a critical water shortage, and then not even really talk about how much water the project will take up? That's contradictory," Case said.
When the City Council approved BeachWalk Resort in June, city staff estimated the hotel would use 17 acre-feet — 5.5 million gallons — of water per year.
Case said previous city estimates were much higher — 25.6 acre-feet or 8.3 million gallons of water per year, which would take up most of the water savings the city has reported in past months, he said.
"Maybe we are wrong," he said. "Maybe there will be plenty of water, but I would just like it if the city would actually explain the water situation in its environmental analysis. Explain the contradictions."
Case and the group are asking the court to invalidate all previous approvals for the project and require that the city prepare a new environmental impact report that addresses their concerns before permitting the hotel again.
Pismo Beach city attorney Dave Fleishman confirmed Thursday that the city had been served with the lawsuit, but said "it is still too early," for an official response.
He said he expected the city will release its response sometime in the first week of August.