North Coast couple sues Coastal Commission over proposed motel

A North Coast landowner is trying to remove the state Coastal Commission from having a say in whether he gets to build a motel alongside Highway 1 south of Cayucos.

Franco and Sonia DeCicco, through the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed suit this morning, arguing that the state body does not have jurisdiction over their proposed 18-room motel with four residences at the corner of Highway 1 and Old Creek Road.

The Board of Supervisors approved the project 3-2 last November, in one of the final votes for Jerry Lenthall and Harry Ovitt, who joined Katcho Achadjian in voting "yes." Ovitt and Lenthall had lost their bids for re-election.

Opponents have said they think the project is too big for their residential neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Cayucos.

"Residents behind it would be looking at a virtual wall," said Bruce Payne, of the citizens group Concerned Citizens of Cayucos.

Opponents have filed suit in Superior Court to stop the motel. The court said it would wait for the Coastal Commission. The commission asserted jurisdiction, which led the Pacific Legal Foundation to intervene.

Calling the Coastal Commission “way out of bounds,” the foundation’s attorney, Paul Beard, said, "The Coastal Commission has one legal duty in this matter: To keep its nose out.

The foundation’s objection is based issues that would seem arcane to the average person.

The foundation is challenging the commission’s argument that it can hear appeals of county land use approvals that are different from the ‘principal’ uses of land set forth in the county zoning ordinance.

In layman’s terms, the subdivision the county approved allowing DeCicco to proceed is not a use of land, the Foundation argues: “It’s a mapping scheme that allows a land sue project to go forward.”

The foundation filed the suit Friday morning in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.