If we didn’t know better, we’d think the city of San Luis Obispo had embarked on a campaign to so antagonize Ernie Dalidio that he would have no choice but to develop his shopping center under county jurisdiction.
Witness the City Council’s most recent action: a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Andrew Carter dissenting, to include a large chunk of the Dalidio property in the city’s new agricultural master plan. The plan calls for development of a community farm — possibly individual garden plots or a small-scale commercial agriculture operation — on the Dalidio land.
But wait, the snub gets even worse.
According to Dalidio, the city made no effort to include him in the ag planning process — not that an overture would necessarily have done any good.
“The truth is I don’t have any interest in negotiating with the city over this because of Measure J,” Dalidio told Tribune reporter AnnMarie Cornejo.
He was referring, of course, to the 2006 countywide vote that gave Dalidio the go-ahead to develop his 131 acres — land just south of the city limits — for shopping, a hotel, housing, sports fields and other uses.
We hope Dalidio is willing to reconsider, because we believe an annexation would be to his benefit. He’s going to need municipal services — water, sewer, fire and police protection — and the city is in the best position to provide them.
That said, the city may have even more to gain from an annexation.
Annexation would give the city much greater control over the design and layout of the project — including the much-debated traffic circulation plan. The city also would reap the benefit of the sales and bed tax revenue generated by the project, which at one point was estimated at $1.5 million per year.
Granted, development won’t occur soon enough to bail the city out of its current financial mess. But if the city wants to help ensure a steady stream of revenue in the future, it needs to provide space for commercial growth, and the Dalidio property is a natural for that.
Consider: The land is surrounded by a freeway, a major shopping center and car dealerships.
And it’s not just us saying that; the city’s own general plan already allows for some commercial uses there.
That’s wise, because San Luis Obispo can’t afford “leakage” of sales tax to neighboring cities or the Internet — and that will happen unless the city can offer a competitive mix of retailers.
While the city has been able attracting big box retail stores, such as Target, T.J. Maxx and Kohl’s, ever since the demise of Gottschalks, the city has lacked a comparable department store, such as a Macy’s.
And it doesn’t have some of the higher-end chains you find in large and even medium-sized cities — stores such as Anthropologie, J. Crew or Williams-Sonoma.
We aren’t advocating for any particular retail outlet to come to San Luis Obispo, but we do believe it makes sense for the city to set good locations should retailers come calling.
We strongly encourage both parties to let go of their grudges and negotiate, once again, to bring the Dalidio property into the city.