Plan for 'wellness center' in Carrizo Plain is shot down

A California Valley man seeking to build a scaled-down “wellness center” in the remote Carrizo Plain fell short Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors denied a proposal that would have helped him go forward.

But they were far from discouraging, urging Kenneth Tab and his Serengeti Corp. to work with county planners and come back with a different plan to help revitalize the forlorn corner of San Luis Obispo County.

In planners’ jargon, Tab was seeking a general plan amendment that would have changed some of his land from agriculture to commercial-retail, creating the potential that he could one day build his center.

It was Tab’s second try to build such a facility in California Valley.

In 2010 the county shot down his effort to install a 100-bed rehabilitation center on the Soda Lake Road property, located roughly a mile and a half south of Highway 58.

As they did in 2010, planners again strongly opposed the move Tuesday.

Supervisors said that, in addition to the code and procedural problems with his application, there was little need for more commercial-retail in the rural community.

“I don’t see the case for it,” said Supervisors Bruce Gibson. “There’s limited commercial potential.”

Supervisors and planners added that the Sheriff’s Office and Cal Fire opposed the proposal.

They also complained that Tab was too vague on exactly what he would do should he get his planning change approved.

However, there was strong sentiment that the county should help, not hinder Tab, a small-business man trying to stay in business and serve an area that once had services but no longer does.

A gas station and restaurant that once were open have closed, although a store and motel remain in business. Tab owns the land that all of these sit on.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold noted that the small commercial district was able to stay in business once, and she would like to see it that way again. Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira agreed.

Supervisors spent an hour trying to craft a way for Tab go to go forward in a way that would survive the grueling and expensive planning process. They said that, given the opposition to his current proposal, he could spend a lot of money only to be denied in the end unless he made changes.

They ordered the staff to work with Tab to develop a proposal that has a better chance of succeeding and could lead to a commercial revitalization of the small retail center in the middle of the plain.