Oceano recycling station OK’d

A Santa Maria man will be allowed to put his recycling collection station in Oceano, following a second protracted discussion among San Luis Obispo County planning commissioners and their staff over whether to allow it.

Commissioners had tentatively approved the project at 1755 17th St. a week earlier on a 3-2 vote, over the objections of their planning staff and following an hourlong discussion.

When the Planning and Building Department staff came back Thursday for final approval, they had a new requirement: that the project be considered a commercial business, which needs a building permit. A building permit, in turn, must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Planners also told applicant Jesus Mendoza that he needed a stationary restroom — not a portable outhouse such as a Porta-Potty — for the worker who would be on the property to deal with recycling customers, as well as a permanent structure.

All of that was new to Mendoza, whose spokesman, architect Steve Rigor, said it could price him out of the project.

“This is simply a small business seeking to expand,” Rigor said, adding that the new requirements “would make this not feasible.”

Rigor said the staff kept changing its position on the project.

Planners said they had not explored the question earlier of whether the recycling operation needed a building permit because they expected the commission to accept their recommendation to turn down the project.

Commissioner Ken Topping warned that the commission and observers should not “trivialize this as an unnecessary regulatory process. This is a nation of laws, and we need to respect the laws.”

Commissioners held off making a final decision Thursday morning, instead telling the planning staff to work with Mendoza and come back with a plan by the end of the day that solved the apparent contradictions.

Led by planner Bill Robeson, county planners returned in late afternoon with a plan that discarded the building permit requirement.

Mendoza was allowed to install his business, but will need to come back in two years with a proposal for a more permanent operation.