Arroyo Grande residents were surprised this week when demolition of the Arroyo Grande Motel suddenly swung into full gear.
Some didn’t even know the building on Traffic Way was set to be torn down.
“We were not noticed at all,” Ellen Gaver, who lives nearby on Allen Street, said Thursday. “We had no idea anything was happening.”
“I woke up this morning and felt my house was shaking, bouncing like it was an earthquake,” she added. “So I thought, ‘Oh we had a little earthquake.’ But then it happened again.”
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Construction crews were out tearing down the motel buildings for most of the day, she said.
The city issued a demolition permit to the owners of the Arroyo Grande Chevrolet on Tuesday, city development director Teresa McClish confirmed Thursday.
She said the city is not required to notice neighbors for a building demolition, or to have Planning Commission approval, because it is a ministerial permit.
The building was also not located in one of the city’s historic character districts or identified as potentially historic, she added.
Gaver said she would have liked advance notice of the planned demolition or an opportunity to discuss the plans with the city.
Her first concern was asbestos and lead in the old building, but she was assured by city planning that that had been taken care of.
Gaver’s next concern is what will happen at the now empty lot.
“We didn’t have any input,” she said. “It was never put before the residents at all. It was already decided.”
According to county tax records, a building has stood on that lot off Traffic Way since 1935.
Local historian Jim Gregory said it looks like that site has been a motel since that time, or at least since 1948, according to newspaper for sale ads from that era he unearthed on Thursday.
The motel was most recently owned by Dalu Patel, who died in September 2018.
Patel was a recognizable face around the Village of Arroyo Grande. He known to stand outside the motel with his well-trained cat, as the duo played with a radio-controlled car.
Vivian Krug-Cotton, who lives several blocks away from the Arroyo Grande Motel, said on Thursday that she was saddened by the sudden demolition.
“When I drove by and it was being demolished I was surprised and a little sad,” Krug-Cotton said. “I still miss seeing (Patel) out with his cat. I miss waving to him. He was a kind man.”
Since Patel’s death, residents have wondered what was happening with the property. Fences went up around the motel some weeks later, and word spread that the nearby Chevrolet dealership had purchased the lot.
It’s uncertain what the dealership plans to do with the lot. McClish said the city has not received an application from the new owners for a new use for the site yet.
Requests for comment from dealership representatives were not returned Thursday.