Dalidio Ranch Project Controversy

Dalidio property

The Dalidio Ranch Project refers to a controversial development project proposal most recently known as Measure J, which was voted on by the citizens of San Luis Obispo County, CA on the November 7, 2006 ballot. The parcel proposed for the development project is a 131-acre (53 ha) parcel of farmland located adjacent to San Luis Obispo, California, west of U.S. Route 101, and east of Madonna Road. The parcel is south of the Promenade Shopping Center and bordered by Prefumo Creek.[1] The project proposed would include "a 13-acre (5.3 ha) organic farm, a seven-day-a-week farmers' market, a Monarch butterfly preserve visible from a grove of eucalyptus trees, a drive-through (possibly 24-hour) pharmacy, retail development featuring walkways and ornate fountains, and 60 units of workforce housing," and the construction of an overpass connecting U.S. Route 101 and Prado Road, according to an article by New Times San Luis Obispo[2]. Ernie Dalidio is the current owner of Dalidio Ranch, and has been actively petitioning for the city annexation of his land since 1991.[3]

Contents

History

Dalidio property

The Dalidio Ranch property has been owned by the Dalidio family since the early 1900s. Ernie Dalidio's grandparents, Forino and Katie Dalidio, were the first to develop the land by drilling wells, building a farmhouse, and cultivating the fields. During the 1920s, the Dalidios drilled five wells on the land, which effectively supplied the entire city of San Luis Obispo with water until the conclusion of World War II. In 1952, Ernie Dalidio inherited the land from his father, and Ernie continued to cultivate it until 1997, when he claimed that it was "no longer realistic to farm land hemmed in by shopping centers and subdivisions." [4] Ernie Dalidio went to the San Luis Obispo City Council for the first time in 1991 to petition for permission to develop his property. In 1994, Ernie's proposal was met with approval by San Luis Obispo's City Council, after a compromise was arranged, leaving one half of the proposed land for open agricultural space.[5]

Chronology of events

1991 Ernie Dalidio proposed development of one half of his land instead of his original plans for total development, due to recommendation from San Luis Obispo City Council.[6]

1994 San Luis Obispo City Council decided that commercial growth should be allowed as infill on half of Dalidio's property.[7] Government planners called for half the Dalidio property to be preserved as open space. This decision marked the commencement of the Dalidio Marketplace initiative.

February 2001 City Council denied the Dalidio Marketplace proposal. Ernie Dalidio decided to propose a broader initiative to San Luis Obispo County.[8]

2002 The San Luis Obispo City Council urged the County board to relinquish the initiative to the City's jurisdiction. The San Luis Obispo County agreed to release their jurisdiction on the matter.

July 2004 San Luis Obispo Downtown Association, an advisory board to San Luis Obispo's City Council, opposed Dalidio's proposed Marketplace shopping center, despite San Luis Obispo City Council's vote to approve the project.[9]

2005 San Luis Obispo city voters rejected the Marketplace Project: Measure A and B rejected by 51 per cent of voters and Measure C rejected by 52 per cent of voters.[10]

March 2006 Dalidio came up with revised "Dalidio Ranch Project" with the intention of letting the residents of San Luis Obispo County vote to decide the project's fate. This revision was submitted to the county as Measure J.

November 2006 65% of San Luis Obispo County voters approved Measure J.[11]

December 2007 Lowe's starts thinking of not being in the Dalidio Ranch project. Dalidio has claimed Target, Lowe's, and Macy's as possible candidates for the project. It is possible that if Lowe's leaves the project, then Macy's could be the second anchor which would change the power center (big-box shopping center) into a regional mall to meet Macy's Incorporated building requirements.

The Tribune. Fri, Dec. 14, 2007. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/business/story/219731.html The Tribune. Thu, Apr. 17, 2008. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/business/story/334965.html The Tribune. Thu, Jan. 31, 2008 http://www.sanluisobispo.com/breakingnews/story/263388.html

February 2007 Lawsuits were filed against the approved proposition for Dalidio Ranch Project, with claims that citizens do not have the rights to agricultural decisions through political initiatives.

February 2008 Judge Roger Picquet overturned the approved proposition, stating “[Measure J] is not a proper subject for an initiative because the approval of the particular development project... is an adjudicatory and not a pure legislative act.” This meant Judge Picquet ruled that the initiative was a matter to be decided by the city's Superior Court, not by the county or city electorate.[12]

April 2008 Target and Macy's (possible candidates in Dalidio's project) have confirmed not to leave his project to any of Madonna Enterprise's properties. The Tribune. Thu, Apr. 17, 2008. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/business/story/334965.html

August 4, 2009 The 2nd Court of Appeal in Ventura, CA overturns SLO County Judge Piquet's ruling, reinstating the validity of Measure J.[13] The ruling also reopened the possibility of Dalidio refiling a RICO lawsuit against the SLO city Downtown Association (DTA) <http://www.downtownslo.com> and the secretive LLC, Citizens for Planning Responsibly (CPR).

Projects

The Marketplace Project

Measures A, B, and C

The Council directed three separate measures, Measures A, Measure B, and Measure C, to placed before the voters of San Luis Obispo on November 16, 2004. Each measure dealt with a different aspect of approving the Marketplace development proposal being considered for the Dalidio property.

Measure A

In order for a development proposal to be approved, it must be consistent with the General Plan, Land Use Element and General Plan Land Use Map. The General Plan Land Use Map is not always clearly defined. In 2001, a development proposal for the Dalidio property site was determined by the city of San Luis Obispo to be consistent with the General Plan Land Use Map and provided for these uses:

  • 40 acres (16 ha) General Retail
  • 60 acres (24 ha) Conservation/Open Space
  • 11.1 acres (4.5 ha) Medium-High Density Residential
  • 9.2 acres (3.7 ha) Interim Conservation/Open Space (land kept open until constraints to development are overcome)
  • 10.2 acres (4.1 ha) for roads [14]

On July 7, 2004, the San Luis Obispo City Council adopted Resolution No. 9590 amending the 1994 General Plan Land Use Map. This resolution was the subject of a referendum petition that was put forward by registered voters of San Luis Obispo. Because the referendum was signed by more than 10 per cent of registered voters, the San Luis Obispo City Council was required to either repeal the resolution or put it before the voters. They decided to put it to a vote. The vote was held on November 16, 2004. Resolution No. 9590 looked to amend the 1994 General Plan Land Use Map to provide for the following uses:

  • 48.7 acres (19.7 ha) General Retail
  • 54.7 acres (22.1 ha) Conservation/Open Space
  • 8.1 acres (3.3 ha) Office
  • 3.3 acres (1.3 ha) Medium-High Density Residential
  • 16.2 acres (6.6 ha) for interchange and other roadways”[14]
Measure B

As the Dalidio site is not technically within the San Luis Obispo City limits and has not been annexed to the City, it is not protected by city zoning regulations. On August 3, 2004, the San Luis Obispo City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1449, which was the subject of a referendum petition that was put forward by registered voters of San Luis Obispo. Because the referendum was signed by more than 10 per cent of registered voters, the San Luis Obispo City Council was required to either repeal the resolution or put it before the voters. They decided to put it to a vote. The vote was held on November 16, 2004.

Ordinance 1449 prezoned the Dalidio property as follows (following changes were consistent with the amended General Plan Land Use Map adopted by the San Luis Obispo City Council on July 7, 2004.):

  • 48.7 acres (19.7 ha) Retail Commercial with a planned development overlay (this part of the action approved a preliminary development plan for the project)
  • 8.1 acres (3.3 ha) Office with special consideration overlay
  • 3.3 acres (1.3 ha) Medium High Residential with special consideration overlay
  • 45.0 acres (18.2 ha) Agriculture
  • 9.7 acres (3.9 ha) Conservation/Open Space
  • 16.2 acres (6.6 ha) for interchange and roads

(All changes above were conditioned upon final annexation of the site into San Luis Obispo city limits-upon which the prezoning designations would become the zoning regulations for the Dalidio property.)[14]

Measure C

Along with the development proposal for the Dalidio property, the developer proposed a development agreement. In January 2004, the San Luis Obispo City Council approved the general terms for inclusion in a development agreement and directed for a negotiation of a final agreement to be completed for consideration. On August 11, 2004, the San Luis Obispo City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1452 approving a Development Agreement/Special Tax Reimbursement Agreement between the city of San Luis Obispo and the developer. This ordinance was the subject of a referendum petition that was put forward by registered voters of San Luis Obispo. Because the referendum was signed by more than 10 per cent of registered voters, the San Luis Obispo City Council was required to either repeal the resolution or put it before the voters. They decided to put it to a vote. The vote was held on November 16, 2004.

Ordinance No. 1452’s Development Agreement/Special Tax reimbursement Agreement provide the following:

  • Developer is allowed to develop in substantial conformity with the preliminary development plan approved by Ordinance No. 1449.
  • City rules and fees in effect at the time the Development Agreement takes effect, or as otherwise provided in the agreement, control over later adopted rules.
  • Processing of additional approvals must be consistent with the agreement and the applicable rules.
  • Developer will provide a conservation easement preserving 54.7 acres (22.1 ha) on site in agriculture or open space.
  • Developer will pay up to $192,00 to preserve 24 acres (9.7 ha) off-site in open space.
  • Developer will ensure construction of the Prado Road interchange (no building permits for project until interchange construction contract awarded).
  • 70 percent of the interchange will be funded through a community facilities district bond for which developer will be wholly responsible for repayment.
  • Up to 50 percent of defined excess sales tax revenue (DESTR), per the Special Tax Reimbursement Agreement, may be reimbursed to developer to meet its bond obligation.
  • Adjustments to DESTR will be made to discourage uses in the project that negatively impact downtown.
  • Remainder of tax revenue (50 percent or more) goes to the city of San Luis Obispo.[14]

Pros of the Marketplace Project

An increased amount of sales tax revenue would be divided among the city and the developers of the Marketplace. The project would prove beneficial for the city as well as the county because of this influx in tax revenue. Although the city would lose approximately 30% of the $1.5 million increase due to the exiting of small businesses in San Luis Obispo, the remaining 70% would pay off the expenses for the new freeway overpass connecting Prado Road to Madonna Road.[15]. Proponents of the Marketplace Project concentrated on the economic benefits that this development would have brought into San Luis Obispo, as well as the construction financing for the overpass. The project also kept residents' concerns about giant retailers in mind. In fact, Ernie Dalidio, owner of the property in question, reassured county residents of his commitment to keeping Wal-Mart, a super store known for trumping local businesses, out of the Marketplace Project. The Marketplace Project was proposed in an attempt to further develop the city of San Luis Obispo, provide a means of paying for an overpass that has been in city planning since 1994, and raise revenue being brought into the county.

Cons of the Marketplace Project

Opponents of the Marketplace project argued that the area is prime agricultural land, which would be wasted if handed over to developers. Opponents also argued that the project would possibly shift the traditional farming atmosphere of San Luis Obispo to an indistinguishable atmosphere that could be of "anywhere America" .[16]. Replacing the land with retailers would create a void in the amount of land capable of sustaining farming in the county. They also looked at the impact of the Marketplace project on small business owners in downtown San Luis Obispo and county-wide, and believed it was not in their best interest, since many local businesses would have been pressured out by larger retailers taking the majority of their customers.


Dalidio Ranch Initiative Measure, Measure J-06

Measure J is an initiative representing Ernie Dalidio's second attempt to develop his land. This measure will determine whether the San Luis Obispo County General Plan, Title 22, and official maps will have to be amended. If approved, Measure J will add provisions to the General Plan, creating a specific zoning area intended to comply with the Dalidio land use. Also, the property owner, Ernie Dalidio, will be given exclusive rights to fund and develop his building project and exclude the County from any decision making regarding the development of the property. The initiative also states that permitted uses of the property may include retail, corporate business, residential, recreation and open space. However, the project and initiative do not solely focus on new development. The existing on-site barn and Victorian farm house will be relocated to a separate location on the Dalidio property as well. These structures will be rehabilitated and made accessible to the public. Many "conditions of approval" have been created as a result of the proponents of the measure. In these conditions, it is stated that four million dollars, which would otherwise be applied to design, will be conditionally applied to the construction of a Highway 101 overpass at Prado Road.

If the measure passes, it will be exempt from all County ordinances, guidelines, and regulations. In addition, all codes surrounding regulation and land use, including Title 22 and Title 26, the Growth Management Ordinance, may be ignored upon passing of the measure. In short, Ernie Dalidio will have free rein over the planning and development of his land without required approval from County officials. Voting yes on Measure J will allow the amendment of the General Plan and development of the Dalidio property for mixed uses described in detail in the measure. Voting no on Measure J will prevent the amendment of the General Plan and development of the Dalidio Property for mixed uses described in detail in the measure.[17]

Pros of Measure J

San Luis Obispo citizens in favor of Measure J support the development of the proposed marketplace on the Dalidio property. Supporters believe the 131-acre (53 ha) parcel of farmland is no longer productive because it is surrounded by commercial property and the 101 freeway. They believe that the development of the marketplace will create more job opportunities for the San Luis Obispo area and help generate funds to finance a substantial portion of the planned Prado Road overpass[18]. Without development of the Dalidio Ranch there will be no available private funds to build the Prado Road overpass, and the project will be more costly to build. Also, it is believed that tax revenues generated from Dalidio Ranch development will benefit the San Luis Obispo County, whereas much of the revenue currently goes to Santa Barbara County. The proposed project has completed two Environmental Impact Reports and has already met the environmental standards outlined in the development plan.

Many San Luis Obispo citizens also support the many biological enhancements that will be included within the development. For example, the project would farm native plants and will refrain from developing on sensitive wetland and riparian habitats on the property. The "green", or environmentally friendly, features in the project will include: a Monarch butterfly natural habitat preserve and viewing area, a mile-long bike path, a seven-day-a-week farmers' market, a 13.3-acre (5.4 ha) organic farm, a Blue Heron nesting habitat preserve, Perfumo Creek Open Space corridor, construction-waste recycling, more than 650 trees (many selected for shadow size), dark sky at night-minimum allowable nighttime light levels per safety regulations, energy-efficient energy production including solar panels on some of the buildings, and water efficiency through the use of native plants where practical.[19] The San Luis Obispo City Council originally voted in favor of the project, as did 65% of citizens. Supporters believe that the fate of the Dalidio Ranch should be in the hands of San Luis Obispo citizens, and most of all the property owner, Ernie Dalidio.

Cons of Measure J

Opponents of Measure J argue that developing the 131 acres (53 ha) of land would further change the agricultural, small-town feel of San Luis Obispo by further engulfing the city with big businesses. They believe this would create income deficits for the small businesses in downtown San Luis Obispo, and only serve to build duplicates of large retailers already built in the county. They argue that the creation of a freeway overpass connecting Prado Road with Madonna Road will add an estimated 30,000 additional car trips per day [20], resulting in Highway 101 Traffic Gridlock due to the higher volume of vehicles on the road. They claim the overpass will also collectively cost taxpayers millions in roadwork as well as flood-control projects. Measure J opposition argues that the funds allocated to the Dalidio Ranch project will impact regional funding for other projects in the county such as roadwork on Highways 46 and 101, Brisco Road, and Willow Road. Those who reject the Measure J proposal do so with the belief that giving the San Luis Obispo County electorate the right to decide the future of the local agricultural community sets a dangerous precedent, as few residents have the ability to make well-educated decisions regarding zoning and development planning for San Luis Obispo.[21]

Court ruling of February 1, 2008

On February 1, 2008, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Roger Picquet overturned Measure J, which was passed by voters on a previous ballot in 2006. He ruled that Measure J “is not a proper subject for an initiative because the approval of the particular development project…is an adjudicatory and not a pure legislative act."[22] The judge decided that the proposed project site is within the San Luis Obispo’s airport land-use area and interferes with the State Aeronautics Act, which requires local airports to establish plans for safety around airfields. The development of Measure J is now at a halt, and the county is not permitted to process any applications to implement the project any further at this time.[23]

Court ruling of August 4, 2009

The 2nd Court of Appeal in Ventura, CA overturned Judge Piquet's February 2008 ruling on a 3-0 vote, reinstating the validity of [Measure J]. In its ruling, the court opined, "… our review of this appeal is also strictly circumscribed by the long-established rule of according extraordinarily broad deference to the electorate’s power to enact laws by initiative. The state constitutional right of initiative or referendum is ‘one of the most precious rights of democratic process.’ These powers are reserved to the people, not granted to them. Thus, it is our duty to ‘jealously guard’ these powers."

This court decision also gave Dalidio the option of refiling a RICO lawsuit against the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association (DTA) as well as the LLC, Citizens for Planning Responsibly (CPR), that vigorously opposed Measure J and filed the lawsuits to overturn it.

The appellate court ruled that Measure J was legislative and not adjudicative, and decided that the airport land use issue is "without merit." Other arguments against Dalidio were summarily disposed.

Primary References

1. "Measure J Initiative." http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/CR/Elections/November+7$!2c+2006+general+election/Full+text+Measure+j-06.pdf

2. Taking Issue, from planning to traffice, Measure J passes the tests." San Lucian 2006 4. 02 Mar 2008.

3. Connel, Sally. " It's Back to the Table for City, County and Dalidio - SLO Councilman says He’d Like to Revive some Arrangement of the Failed Marketplace Project" The Tribune. 19 Jul 2007. 01 Mar 2008.

4. "Measure A, B, and C Initiatives." 3 March 2008. http://www.slocity.org/cityclerk/specialelection2005/Final%20Sample%20Ballot%20&%20Voter%20Information%20Pamphlet.pdf

5. County of San Luis Obispo Impartial Analysis of Measure J-06." 3 March 2008. http://www.nomeasurej.org/supporting-documents/official-ballot-materials

References

  1. ^ Dalidio Ranch Initiative Measure." San Luis Obispo County. 2 Mar 2008 http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/CR/Elections/November+7$!2c+2006+general+election/Full+text+Measure+j-06.pdf
  2. ^ Velie, Karen. "Dalidio opposition may land Downtown Association in hot water ." New Times SLO. 24 Oct 2006. 18 Feb 2008 <http://www.newtimesslo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=1945>.
  3. ^ Connel, Sally. " IT'S BACK TO THE TABLE FOR CITY, COUNTY AND DALIDIO - SLO COUNCILMAN SAYS HE'D LIKE TO REVIVE SOME ARRANGEMENTS OF THE FAILED MARKETPLACE PROJECT REACH DAVID SNEED AT 781-7930.." The Tribune. 19 Jul 2007. 01 Mar 2008.
  4. ^ Velie, Karen. "Dalidio opposition may land Downtown Association in hot water." New Times SLO. 24 Oct 2006. 18 Feb 2008 <http://www.newtimesslo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=1945>.
  5. ^ Romero, Mayor Dave. Dalidio Property Realities, Aug 2004, <http://www.romeroformayor.com/catpage/dalidioproperties.html>
  6. ^ Taking Issue, from planning to traffice, Measure J passes the tests." San Lucian 2006 4. 02 Mar 2008
  7. ^ ^ Murray, Guy. "Vote Yes, Measure J, Dalidio Ranch Project San Luis Obispo." Nipomo News. 4 November 2006. 19 February 2008 <http://nipomonews.org/2006/11/04/vote-yes-proposition-j-dalidio-ranch-project-san-luis-obispo-county/
  8. ^ Romero, Dave. "Dalidio Property Realities." romeroformayor.com. Aug 2004. 2 Mar 2008 <http://www.romeroformayor.com/catpage/dalidioproperties.html>
  9. ^ Velie, Karen. "Dalidio opposition may land Downtown Association in hot water ." New Times SLO. 24 Oct 2006. 18 Feb 2008 <http://www.newtimesslo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=1945>.
  10. ^ Griffy, Leslie. "FINAL VOTE STAYS NARROW AND 'NO' - UNOFFICIAL RESULTS SHOW MEASURESA AND B LOST BY ABOUT 51 PERCENT AND MEASUREC BY 52 PERCENT." The Tribune. 30 April 2005. 03 March 2008
  11. ^ Charlton, April. "Measure J Overturned by SLO County Judge." Santa Maria Times. 02 February 2008. 15 February 2008 <http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2008/02/02/news/centralcoast/news05.txt
  12. ^ Charlton, April. "Measure J Overturned by SLO County Judge." Santa Maria Times. 02 February 2008. 15 February 2008 <http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2008/02/02/news/centralcoast/news05.txt
  13. ^ Morem, Bill. "Appeals court OKs Dalidio's Measure J." San Luis Obispo Tribune. 04 August 2009. 05 August 2009 <http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/805837.html>
  14. ^ a b c d "Sample Ballot and Voter Registration Pamphlet April 26, 2005." City of San Luis Obispo. 03 March 2008. http://www.slocity.org/cityclerk/specialelection2005/Final%20Sample%20Ballot%20&%20Voter%20Information%20Pamphlet.pdf.
  15. ^ Peabody, John. "Field of nightmares." New Times SLO. 14 Apr 2005. 24 Feb 2008 <http://www.newtimes-slo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=1000>
  16. ^ Peabody, John. "Field of nightmares." New Times SLO. 14 Apr 2005. 24 Feb 2008 <http://www.newtimes-slo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=1000>
  17. ^ "County of San Luis Obispo Impartial Analysis of Measure J-06." 03 March 2008 http://www.nomeasurej.org/supporting-documents/official-ballot-materials
  18. ^ Murray, Guy. "Vote Yes, Measure J, Dalidio Ranch Project San Luis Obispo." Nipomo News. 4 November 2006. 19 February 2008 <http://nipomonews.org/2006/11/04/vote-yes-proposition-j-dalidio-ranch-project-san-luis-obispo-county/>
  19. ^ Raftery, Kory. "Behind the controversial Dalidio Project, now thrown out by San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge." MSNBC. 31 Jan 2008. 24 Feb 2008 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22955105/>.
  20. ^ Charlton, April. "Anti-Dalidio Ranch Team Gears Up." NO on J. 02 Sep 2006. 20 Feb 2008 <http://www.nomeasurej.org/news/newspaper-articles/anti-dalidio-ranch-team-gears-up>
  21. ^ No on J." Learn More, Vote NO on Measure J. 2006. County Coalition for Local Control. 03 Mar 2008 <http://www.nomeasurej.org/learnmore/>.
  22. ^ Charlton, April. "Measure J Overturned by SLO County Judge." Santa Maria Times. 02 February 2008. 15 February 2008 <http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2008/02/02/news/centralcoast/news05.txt>.
  23. ^ Cuddy, Bob. "Court nullifies Dalidio initiative of ’06." SanLuisObispo.com, Website of the Central Coast. 01 Feb 2008. 18 Feb 2008 <http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/263713.html>.

Coordinates: 35°15′32″N 120°40′59″W / 35.25887°N 120.68293°W / 35.25887; -120.68293


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