Pismo Beach City Council votes down Canyon Oaks project and land swap

Concern over the preservation of open space dominated the public debate in Pismo Beach on Tuesday as the City Council considered — and then voted down — a proposed housing development and land swap.

The council voted 3-1 to deny the project, commonly known as Canyon Oaks. Councilman Kris Vardas voted in favor, and Mayor Mary Ann Reiss was absent.

The proposal included a total of 25 lots in a wooded canyon area in one of Pismo Beach’s older neighborhoods, part of which is now zoned open space.

Planning Commissioners had recommended in a 2-1 vote in May that the council approve the project. Two commissioners had recused themselves because of possible conflicts of interest.

Developer Mike Hodge had proposed to trade a 2.9-acre parcel along Price Canyon Road for a 6-acre parcel about 1,100 feet west in the Pismo Heights area.

The original parcel, located next to the eastern city boundary along Price Canyon Road, was subdivided in the 1920s and zoned residential.

If the project had been approved, Hodge would have dedicated this property to the city.

The proposed project would include five lots along Lemoore Street and 18 new lots on the rest of the property accessible by a main road off Price Canyon Road, project architect Steve Puglisi said in a previous interview.

Three homes already exist on the 6-acre lot, he said. One is proposed to be demolished and two would be remodeled, for a total of 25 homes on 3.39 acres of the site. The rest would remain undeveloped.

The project would protect views along Price Canyon Road and preserve all the oak trees on the 6-acre site, Puglisi said Tuesday.

About 100 people were at the council meeting, with about half expressing their views on the proposal.

Critics of the project cited the potential for increased traffic, more fire danger and the loss of open space.

A half-dozen others and the developer argued that the property is not true open space because it already contains driveways and three homes, and part of the land has been graded.

They say it’s a better option for the city than where the 24 lots that would be swapped are currently located.