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More events, visitors OK'd at Chapman Estate in Shell Beach

The Chapman House overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Shell Beach.
The Chapman House overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Shell Beach. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The iron gates at 1243 Ocean Blvd. will soon be swinging open more often.

The Pismo Beach Planning Commission unanimously approved a new conditional-use permit Tuesday for the Chapman Estate in Shell Beach to allow for more events and partygoers at the iconic seaside home.

The Chapman Estate was left to the city of Pismo Beach after its former owner, Clifford Chapman, died in 2012. His longtime partner, Don Shidler, still lives in the home.

The new conditional-use permit allows up to 604 people — 450 attendees, 108 vendor workers, 16 musicians and 30 volunteers — at the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County’s annual fundraiser, Afternoon of Epicurean Delights, scheduled for June 7. The number of people at the annual Chapman Estate, San Luis Obispo Opera and San Luis Obispo Symphony fundraisers will still be limited to 300.

The new permit also exempts three free community events at the estate from parking restrictions that require any event with more than 50 guests to provide a shuttle service rather than allowing guests to park in the crowded Shell Beach neighborhood. The shuttle requirement made it financially difficult for the city to host the three free public events allowed under the former permit, according to City Manager Jim Lewis. The city has not yet determined what those three events will be.

Up to six gatherings — defined as an event with less than 49 people such as estate ground tours, recreational classes, holiday visits and painting excursions — will also be allowed under the new permit.

Several homeowners in Shell Beach spoke out against the new permit at Tuesday night’s meeting, saying that events at the estate disrupt the neighborhood and disturb the peace. The commission also received 11 letters from concerned citizens regarding the new permit.

The commission decided to vote in favor of the amended permit because of “the uniqueness of the property and Mr. Chapman’s desire to see the property used for enjoyment of the general public, as expressed in his trust,” community development director Jon Biggs said after the meeting.

The permit will be effective 10 working days after the Planning Commission action, provided that an appeal is not filed to the Pismo Beach City Council. Unless extended by the Planning Commission, the permit will expire on Dec. 24, 2016.

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