Owner of California Valley motel wants to remodel, add fast-food restaurant

A California Valley corporation, whose plans for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in the remote corner of San Luis Obispo County were shot down by the Board of Supervisors a year ago, is back with a new plan, this time seeking to breathe new life into its motel on Soda Lake Road.

The California Serengeti Corp. also wants to get a fast-food restaurant up and running on the east side of Soda Lake Road, roughly two miles south of Highway 58.

The corporation wants to remodel its existing 22-unit motel to a 10-unit motel with 30 free-standing cabins surrounding it.

Serengeti’s Kenneth Tab told The Tribune that workers from the solar plants in California Valley currently rent the existing motel rooms, and expansion would allow more of them to stay in the valley, rather than having to make a costly commute.

There is an existing food store, and the fast-food restaurant would give visitors more options, Tab said

In August 2011, the Board of Supervisors rejected Tab’s more elaborate proposal for a 100-bed rehabilitation and residential care facility.

Supervisors said they worried about the size and remoteness of the project, had concerns about emergency response time, and said the facility would compete for scarce water.

They also said his rehab center would have been out of character with surrounding land uses, which are largely cattle grazing and dry land farming. Tab has said agriculture on the plain is not as robust as the county says, adding that many of the farmers on the plain receive federal subsidies.

The county has since beefed up its emergency personnel presence in California Valley.

This time around, Tab’s smaller project may not get to the Board of Supervisors. It is scheduled for a hearing on Nov. 2, at 9 a.m. before the Planning Department.

Smaller and less controversial projects go before county planners, unlike more complex proposals, which receive full hearings before the Planning Commission and, if they are appealed, the Board of Supervisors.

Planning Department decisions can be appealed.