Morro Bay sued over Cerrito Peak


A local nonprofit has sued the city of Morro Bay over its recent approval of plans to build a house on Cerrito Peak, a rocky promontory in a residential area of the city.

The lawsuit was filed by the Morro Bay group Save the Park, which argues that the city violated numerous state and local laws when the City Council denied several appeals of plans to build a two-story home on a slope of the eucalyptus-covered volcanic peak Dec. 13.

The lawsuit cites many of the same arguments against the project that were used during the appeal hearing. These include the fact that the peak is a scenic landmark in the city, is a monarch butterfly habitat and contains archaeological remains.

“The city did not consider the facts that the parcel is surrounded by public right-of-way used as open space and that Cerrito Peak has been used openly for decades as a public recreational area and a sacred site to Native Americans,” the group said in a news release.

Morro Bay City Attorney Rob Schultz said he has not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it. However, he said it is the responsibility of the project applicant to defend the decision.

The peak is owned by Dan Reddell, who has proposed building the home. At the time of the hearing, City Council members said they would prefer to keep the peak undeveloped but approved the home out of respect for Reddell’s property rights.

Although Reddell allows the public to access the peak, the suit also seeks to place an access easement on it based on decades of prescriptive use of the property by the public.

Save the Park is headed by former City Councilwoman Betty Winholtz and has challenged several development projects as well as a renovation of the Morro Bay State Park campground.