Court OKs removal of homeless people from Dan De Vaul's Sunny Acres

The homeless living at rancher Dan De Vaul’s Sunny Acres property can now be removed by San Luis Obispo County authorities because of various health and building violations there.

A ruling issued by the 2nd District Court of Appeal this week upholds a prior decision by San Luis Obispo Superior Court that ordered De Vaul to clear the homeless from dangerous structures on his property and stop collecting rent from them.

That ruling — issued in July by Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall — ordered De Vaul and Sunny Acres to correct several county health and building code violations pertaining to the conditions his tenants face at the ranch.

Those violations include some of the buildings on the site, the drinking water supply and hazardous material storage on the property, according to county officials.

Crandall accused De Vaul of “demonstrable intransigence” and ordered him to clear the homeless from the dangerous structures on his property and to no longer collect rent from them.

The recent ruling by the court of appeal is in response to De Vaul’s appeal of the Superior Court’s decision.

De Vaul has been embroiled in a battle with the county over his use of the 72-acre farm property on Los Osos Valley Road for more than six years.

“Overwhelming evidence shows numerous continuing violations of codes and ordinances designed to protect health and safety,” states the ruling. “The trial court would have abused its discretion had it not issued a preliminary injunction.”

De Vaul said Thursday he is now waiting to see what the county will do next.

“I’m not aware of any other legal steps that I can take,” De Vaul said.

About 35 people are living at the ranch, which De Vaul has long characterized as a safe haven for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

“I just can’t imagine that the county would come out here and place a receivership and take my property,” De Vaul said. “This thing is getting kind of ridiculous.”

County Counsel Nina Negranti said the county will now seek a specific compliance schedule from the Superior Court but could not specify what kind of timeline that would involve.

“First and foremost are the uninhabitable structures,” Negranti said of the violations the county would seek to abate.

“Because of the outstanding health and safety issues, time has always been of the essence,” Negranti said. “We had the order a year ago but because of the appellate process, here we are a year later.”

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.