Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Building on Cerrito Peak: A novel experience

I have been working for years to build our dream home on Cerrito Peak in Morro Bay, but I never expected to be berated by three-time Grammy winner Kent Nagano, slammed by self-proclaimed Chumash leader Fred Collins, yelled at by neighbors who live on the peak, beat down ... wait a minute. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning:

Years ago, I bought a one-acre lot that contains the top of Cerrito Peak. My neighbors live on 38 large lots that surround our oval-shaped lot. I found a contractor building on granite outcrops in the Sierras, and he designed a 3,200-square-foot home for us that would blend into the neighborhood. It is on the east slope below the peak, surrounded by trees, and provides solitude and beauty that matches the surroundings.

In June of 2008, I submitted the plans to the city of Morro Bay. I had hired the best experts to study everything. They answered every question asked by the city and provided proof that we were following every rule. Their reports have been updated continuously.

Last year a group of neighbors asked to meet with me on the site. To my surprise, some of them started yelling at me for destroying “their” beautiful backyard.

I explained to them that I was making mortgage, tax and insurance payments, and if they wanted it for their backyard, they could buy it. I never heard from them again until recently when the project came before the Planning Commission and the appeal to the City Council.

The appellants’ and neighbors’ statements made at those meetings would have made Pinocchio’s nose grow to the moon: “Blasting” is not allowed in Morro Bay; “public land giveaway” is really about an undeveloped street where my driveway is going; “ruining butterfly habitat” is about the 30 trees out of 350 that have to be cut — and they have to be replaced two to one; “desecrating a Sacred Site” are words from the self-proclaimed Chumash leader Fred Collins, in spite of the fact that it was the Salinan Tribe that registered the peak as the “Sacred Site” with the state of California. The Salinan Tribe publicly supported my private property rights.

The most painful blow to me came from a man I highly respect: world-famous conductor Kent Nagano. His Viewpoint published in The Tribune on Dec. 18 made me feel like he was whacking me with his baton.

He forgot to mention that his father, an architectural engineer, had built their very large family home on a tree-encrusted lot just a couple hundred feet from where I want to build. I was fine with Kent wanting to “save” the peak, but I was disappointed that he did not say one word about justly compensating the owner.

Anyway, in addition to wanting to build our dream home, I’ve always been a wannabe novelist. I just published a novel online entitled “I Pledge Allegiance” It is about the despicable bastards who have betrayed America by creating the housing crisis. My ordeal in trying to get our dream home built has a plot worthy of a novel, especially when you consider the anti-property rights stance of the appellants and neighbors. I think I would title it “Let’s Steal Dan’s Land.”

Cerrito Peak, or Eagle Rock, a nickname, is truly a unique and fabulous site. I welcome all of you to come and visit. You have my permission to walk all over the property. I’ll even show you where I want to build.

If you want the peak to become open space and agree the opponents should not be trying to steal my land, then get out your pocketbooks and contact the city of Morro Bay or the Salinan Tribe. I have agreed with both parties to wait a certain amount of time while we try to find an equitable solution.

Happy New Year, everyone! Dan Reddell has lived on the Central Coast most of his life. He was in the first graduating class of Cuesta College and earned two degrees from Cal Poly. He joined his family’s building business, but in 1993 he gave up construction for real estate.