LAFCO board postpones making a decision on Pismo Beach development

Pismo Beach officials didn’t get an answer Thursday on whether they can add 182 acres of land on the city’s eastern boundary and move ahead with a residential development.

A local board postponed its decision until March to get clarification on a range of issues, including the amount of water needed to serve the proposed Los Robles Del Mar development.

“I think it’s imperative that we get our arms wrapped around what the demands are for the project,” said Supervisor Jim Patterson, one of seven members of the Local Agency Formation Commission, which approves all annexation requests. “Is this the best we can do? I hope not.”

The development includes 252 single-family homes and 60 senior citizen residences on a site bordered by Oak Park Boulevard, east of James Way.

This was the second time LAFCO considered a request from Pismo Beach to annex the land. In 2008, LAFCO denied the request after the board determined the project didn’t have an adequate, reliable and sustainable water supply. At the time, three onsite wells were proposed to be used.

Thursday’s unanimous decision provided some temporary relief to South County residents, many of whom sent the more than 120 letters, emails and postcards to LAFCO filled with questions and sometimes detailed analyses of the issues.

Their concerns included how the 4,000 daily vehicle trips the Los Robles Del Mar development is estimated to generate would impact local roads, especially Oak Park Boulevard, James Way and Ridge Road.

Some questioned whether Pismo Beach needs additional housing, since the recent U.S. census indicated a decrease in the city’s population.

Others argued for fewer homes on the property, while Mike Wulkan of the county’s Planning and Building Department said the project doesn’t offer a variety of housing types and suggested the plan be revised to include smaller lots, duplexes or other options.

The issue of water — and whether there’s enough to serve Los Robles Del Mar now, or 25 years from now — was hotly debated. Developer Larry Persons has secured a block of state water, and Pismo Beach Public Works Director Dwayne Chisam maintained Thursday that it is sufficient for the development.

But other residents, and a few commissioners, aren’t so sure and supplied their own calculations to show they believe more water is needed.

“The fact that we’ve seen four different sets of water calculations raises some issues in my mind,” said board member Marshall Ochylski, president of the Los Osos Community Services District.

There isn’t time for Pismo Beach and developer Larry Persons to make major revisions to the project because LAFCO can only postpone the hearing for 70 days. Instead, city staff, Persons and LAFCO will work to answer questions raised by the commission.

Persons, who started the process to purchase the property in 1984, said he’ll try to get independent experts to satisfy commissioners’ questions.

When asked if he was discouraged by Thursday’s decision, Persons said he was not, adding: “It’s just another day in Pismo Beach.”

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.