In what was called a classic choice between community aesthetics and an individual’s right to build the home he wants, the Board of Supervisors came down solidly on the side of individual choice this week.
In a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the board gave Dr. Marshall Lewis the tentative go-ahead to build a two-story, 4,555-square-foot house on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean in Cayucos. The project on Lucerne Road also includes demolishing an existing house, adding a 2,377-square-foot garage and relocating a historic water tank.
Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who represents Cayucos on the board, opposed the move, as did the Cayucos Community Advisory Council and the county Planning Commission.
“This project falls well short of what the community deserves,” Gibson said. He said Lewis’ house, as designed, would “compromise community character.”
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Gibson noted the house was too big for the area and was generally out of character with the neighborhood. Gibson suggested sending the proposal back to the drawing board — literally — but a perturbed Lewis, who said he already has made $40,000 to $50,000 in county-suggested changes, told the supervisors he wanted an up or down vote.
“Absolutely not,” he said to Gibson’s suggestion for further delay. “I followed every rule.”
“The community character thing is such a difficult thing” to define, Supervisor Adam Hill said. Other supervisors agreed that a lot of subjectivity goes into land-use decisions.
Hill said he did not see a uniform architectural style on Lucerne Road, and Supervisor Paul Teixeira added that he “kind of like(s) the house.”
Teixeira said if William Randolph Hearst were trying to get government approval for his castle today, or Alex Madonna for his Madonna Inn, the county wouldn’t give them permits.
Cayucos resident Ken Carlson said “the bottom line is, it’s a person’s house.”
Frank Mecham and Jim Patterson joined Teixeira and Hill in approving the project.
The issue will return to the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 9 for a final vote.