There’s no question that Dan De Vaul is providing a humanitarian service by offering food and shelter to homeless people who might otherwise live out of their cars, under a bridge or on the banks of a creek.
But it’s time for De Vaul to stop bucking authority at every turn. The county is giving him a shot at a fresh start, even as it tries to force him to correct remaining code violations at his property.
De Vaul should take advantage of the opportunity.
Specifically, the county has signaled its support for De Vaul’s plan to build a new, 8,000-square-foot home that would serve as a sober living facility on his Los Osos Valley Road ranch.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to waive nearly $21,000 in permit fees for the new residence, citing the public service that De Vaul would provide there.
The fee waiver comes with strings:
The new facility can only be used as a nonprofit, sober-living facility for county residents who meet certain poverty guidelines.
It must be operated by a nonprofit corporation in good standing with the state.
De Vaul must comply with an earlier court order that requires him to correct existing code violations on his property.
He must maintain the property “free of land use, building and health safety violations.”
If De Vaul violates any of the conditions, he’ll have to pay the $21,000 in fees.
That may not seem like much of an incentive, but the county also is trying a tougher approach. To ensure that current violations are corrected, it’s asking a judge to appoint a receiver who would have the authority to arrange for any needed improvements and pay the bills.
De Vaul is fighting the appointment of a receiver — no surprise there. He claims he already has made the necessary fixes. He’s also accused the county of “making things up because I don’t bow down to them.”
A judge could rule on the case as early as Thursday. That’s good, because this drama has dragged on far, far too long.
Here’s our take: If there are remaining violations that need to be cleared, De Vaul should correct them as soon as possible — whether or not the judge appoints a receiver.
If he’s truly serious about providing shelter for some of the county’s neediest residents, he’ll stop fighting the county and concentrate on the next step: building a permitted, up-to-code facility that does not break any rules. That’s the best way to get county code enforcement off his back.
The county has shown an abundance of patience in giving De Vaul yet another chance to operate within the law. It’s time — past time — that Dan De Vaul reciprocated by cooperating, rather than obstructing.