San Luis Obispo rancher Dan De Vaul must surrender in October to serve a 90-day County Jail sentence for his conviction on property code violations.
De Vaul, 67, was in Judge John Trice’s court Monday to face sentencing for a guilty verdict in 2009 on two misdemeanor counts of violating fire safety and vehicle storage laws.
The rancher has long argued that he was unfairly prosecuted, saying he provides a valuable service in housing the homeless and offering a substance abuse intervention program to help people on his 70-acre Sunny Acres ranch on Los Osos Valley Road.
De Vaul’s appeal was rejected by a county Superior Court appellate panel. Trice set Oct. 22 for his surrender.
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Trice presented De Vaul with the option of avoiding jail time by giving him the chance to apply for an alternative work or home detention program operated by the Sheriff’s Department.
Trice didn’t allow De Vaul to make a statement in court Monday.
De Vaul said after the hearing that he wasn’t sure what he’d do — hinting he even may force authorities to take him into custody.
“Civil disobedience is an option,” De Vaul said. “I could make the warden come get me. I could wear an ankle bracelet. I just don’t know yet.”
But De Vaul said he’s focusing on Thursday’s hearing in civil court that could decide whether the roughly 12 residents in his program will be made to leave within a month.
Judge Charles Crandall is scheduled to decide Thursday whether to order people to vacate structures including mobile sheds, tents and RVs by Aug. 5. De Vaul lost an appeal in that case in the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Ventura.
De Vaul and his lawyer, John Belsher, both said Monday that the county has failed to cooperate with De Vaul’s proposals to build a legal housing structure on his property.
De Vaul said the cost of building permit fees is exorbitant, and Belsher said county officials are pouring through proposed alternatives with “a fine-toothed comb.”
Belsher also said De Vaul’s property is a better temporary alternative for housing than makeshift encampments that homeless form, citing the death Friday of James Kristopher Wadsworth near San Luis Obispo Creek.
“(Wadsworth) died in a tent fire in one of these encampments,” Belsher said. “It’s not safer for homeless to live in the creek.”
But county Code Enforcement Supervisor Art Trinidade said conditions on De Vaul’s property are putting residents’ lives at risk.
Trinidade also said De Vaul is exaggerating the cost of building fees — which De Vaul said Monday would cost him $60,000.
Trinidade said the costs would be a maximum of about $25,000 and potentially no cost if the county Planning Commission waived fees.
He said the county has tried to work with De Vaul on finding reasonable, legal housing solutions to make his program comply with law.
“We believe that what he’s doing could be effectively done safely with permits,” Trinidade said.
Thursday’s hearing in Crandall’s courtroom is scheduled for 9 a.m.