Shell Beach's Chapman Estate to host fewer events than proposed

Residents of Esparto Avenue in Shell Beach say they've been affected by heavy traffic during events at the Chapman Estate, seen in the background.
Residents of Esparto Avenue in Shell Beach say they've been affected by heavy traffic during events at the Chapman Estate, seen in the background. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Seven events will be allowed at the Chapman Estate in Shell Beach over the next year, far fewer than the number of parties, shows and other events initially envisioned at the iconic oceanfront property.

Instead of numerous public and private events such as weddings, art shows, musical performances and photo shoots, only four specific fundraisers and three community events will be held there, the Pismo Beach Planning Commission decided this week.

The initial proposal would have allowed up to six private events to be held every month on the grounds of the property at 1243 Ocean Blvd., in addition to a handful of nonprofit events.

The estate was bequeathed to the city by Clifford Chapman, who died in June 2012. The city voted to accept the property last December.

Pismo Beach officials said opening up the grounds to more events would give the public more opportunities to enjoy the estate and help generate money for the city to pay for ongoing maintenance.

But they faced opposition from neighbors of the property, who worried that they would have to put up with traffic congestion, trash, noise and parking issues at least once a week.

“There is a big difference between the events that already take place compared with weddings and other private events,” Shell Beach resident Todd Tappan wrote to planning commissioners before Tuesday’s meeting.

On Tuesday, the commission approved a conditional-use permit for the property, allowing four events over the next year with a maximum of 300 people at each event, Community Development Director Jon Biggs said.

The events include a fundraiser for Opera San Luis Obispo on Aug. 16, a San Luis Obispo Symphony fundraiser on Sept. 21, and the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County’s annual Afternoon of Epicurean Delights on June 7, 2015.

There also will be a fundraising event specifically to raise money for ongoing maintenance to the grounds, Biggs said.

The city has a $192,000 trust endowment, some of which it is using to pay for short-term improvements to the property. Long-term projects, including repairs to an existing seawall, and other improvements to the house are estimated at about $1 million.

Ongoing maintenance of the grounds, including landscaping, tree trimming and pool maintenance, is about $2,500 a month.

The permit expires at the end of June 2015; the city will have to reapply for it in a year.

The commission also agreed to allow three free community events over the next year; the dates and details of those events have not been set.

The permit approval could be appealed to the Pismo Beach City Council. As of Thursday, no appeal had been filed.

The permit specifies that events cannot be held any earlier than 11 a.m. and guests must leave by 4 p.m. Shuttles are to be used to transport attendees during events with more than 50 people.

Biggs said about 22 people spoke during Tuesday’s meeting, with roughly the same number of people speaking for or against the permit.

On Wednesday, Tappan, who watched the meeting at home on TV, seemed satisfied with the commission’s decision, noting the events that Chapman stipulated should continue will be held.

“The first proposal was ridiculous — it was going to be parties every weekend,” Tappan said. “It’s hard to complain now.”

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