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New Times / News

The following article was posted on April 24th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [] - Volume 27, Issue 39

Settlement will allow De Vaul to rebuild Sunny Acres


It’s certainly not the end of the story, but everyone involved seems to acknowledge that it’s one hell of a milestone.

After years of back and forth played out in court, the county and rancher Dan De Vaul reached a tentative settlement on April 23, providing something of a happy ending to a lawsuit De Vaul filed against the county in 2009.

Under the agreement, De Vaul will be allowed to build a sober-living residence on his 72-acre Sunny Acres ranch, which has historically offered not only housing but also counseling and other services in exchange for ranch work or payment for room and board.

After years of code enforcement action and legal wrangling, San Luis Obispo County reached a settlement with rancher Dan De Vaul (pictured) that would allow him to continue providing sober living services on his Sunny Acres property on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo.

The property has drawn the ire of neighbors and code enforcement officials since 2001 for its allegedly sub-par conditions, including people living in sheds and a dairy farm.

But following the agreement, De Vaul will be allowed to build a 14-bedroom residence—which he plans to build himself—that will comply with all county codes and regulations. He said he and the roughly 15 current residents plan to reach out to the community through a fundraising campaign to pay for most, if not all, of the costs. The county has agreed to waive certain building fees as long as the facility is made to service low-income residents.

“The only thing I can say is never before have we had the ability to build legal housing here,” De Vaul told New Times. “And we don’t have it yet, but everything is leading to it.”

“It’s definitely the end of a chapter,” said De Vaul attorney John Belsher. “I think that now, Sunny Acres will be able to continue its service to the least fortune in our population in a sober and working ranch environment.”

Nina Negranti, who represented the county in De Vaul’s lawsuit, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

De Vaul said he doesn’t yet have a rough timeline for construction of the new building, which will play out as the fundraising effort develops.

“It’s kind of one day at a time over here,” he said.