Hotel developer files lawsuit

A North Coast landowner is trying to prevent the California Coastal Commission from having a say in whether he gets to build a hotel off Highway 1 south of Cayucos.

Franco and Sonia DeCicco — through the Pacific Legal Foundation — filed suit Friday morning in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

They argue that the state regulatory agency does not have jurisdiction over their proposed 18-room hotel with four residences off Highway 1 and Old Creek Road.

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

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

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

Opponents have filed suit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to stop the hotel. The court has said it would wait for the Coastal Commission’s ruling.

The commission asserted jurisdiction, which led the Pacific Legal Foundation to intervene.

The foundation, based in Sacramento, defends property rights and local control of land-use issues.

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 on issues that would seem arcane or technical to the average person.

It 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, rather, “It’s a mapping scheme that allows a land use project to go forward.”