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Atascadero RV lot developers drop project after illness, financial uncertainty 

A controversial RV Storage Lot along the Salinas River in Atascadero will no longer be built after its developers requested the city to pull the permit.

"VSM (VS Marine LLC.) has reluctantly determined it cannot move forward with the project," VSM's Kris Gustafson told the city in a letter on Jan. 18. "VSM hereby requests that the city rescind its approval of the project (and any related entitlements) so that VSM may allocate its available time and resources elsewhere."

The Atascadero City Council approved the request at its Feb. 27 meeting, formally rescinding the development permit it unanimously granted to VSM in October 2023.

According to Gustafson, VSM can't maintain its commitment to develop the 6-acre lot due to time spent addressing a family illness.

This illness, he said, led to him being unable to work a single day for the last four months, and that was unlikely to change thanks to compacting financial concerns.

"In addition to the medical emergency mentioned, ... VSM is also advised that the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate hikes and general uncertainty created by the upcoming presidential election create risks that have forced VSM to reevaluate its risk profile at this time," Gustafson's letter said.

He hopes that by backing out from the RV lot development, VSM can handle its current issues and better prepare for future long-term success.

"Unfortunately, VSM has determined that this project will not be part of its future," Gustafson's letter said. "This decision represents VSM's best efforts to respond proactively to these circumstances."

Should VSM want to return to the project in the future, the city said it would have to go through the entire approval process again.

It took the RV storage lot five hearings to get approval in July 2023 from the Atascadero Planning Commission.

After that, resident David Broadwater appealed the decision to the City Council, citing concerns about a lack of environmental studies on the project.

In front of the City Council, the project faced challenges from Councilmember Susan Funk, who questioned the need for such a large-scale high-environmental-impact RV storage lot. As a result, the council voted to approve the project under the condition that VSM complete certain environmental feasibility studies.

click to enlarge BRIGHTER FUTURE With the Salinas River RV storage lot project on hold, environmental groups like the SLO Beaver Brigade are happy their riparian friends will be safe from potential waste the project may have created. - FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF AUDRY TAUB BY DONALD QUINTANA
  • File Photo Courtesy Of Audry Taub By Donald Quintana
  • BRIGHTER FUTURE With the Salinas River RV storage lot project on hold, environmental groups like the SLO Beaver Brigade are happy their riparian friends will be safe from potential waste the project may have created.

Representatives from the SLO Beaver Brigade—a group that advocates for habitat conservation in the Salinas River—said they're thankful the project is no longer in the works.

"Parking vehicles and putting industrial zones perched above our drinking water is a recipe for disaster," SLO Beaver Brigade member Audrey Taub told New Times. "We think a healthy Salinas River is vital to having healthy communities."

She said the Beaver Brigade is hopeful that the city will make efforts in the future to ensure that projects next to the river account for environmental impacts.

"Supporting the health of our river, supporting the beavers, should be a priority for our municipalities that reside along the Salinas River," Taub said. "We are thrilled that, for now at least, this disaster has been avoided." Δ

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