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Nipomo Action Committee sues over the Dana Reserve project 

If Dana Reserve developer Nick Tompkins thought his project would be smooth sailing after it received its approval from the SLO County Board of Supervisors, the Nipomo Action Committee's lawsuit against the project says otherwise.

On May 28, the Nipomo Action Committee filed a lawsuit against the Dana Reserve, SLO County, and its Board of Supervisors because the project would stress "local resources and burden local emergency services such as Cal Fire and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff," the lawsuit reads.

click to enlarge LEADING LADY Alison Martinez (left) is the director of the Nipomo Action Committee, which is suing the Dana Reserve project, SLO County, and the Board of Supervisors for the project's potential to impact local resources and significantly damage an intact oak forest. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • LEADING LADY Alison Martinez (left) is the director of the Nipomo Action Committee, which is suing the Dana Reserve project, SLO County, and the Board of Supervisors for the project's potential to impact local resources and significantly damage an intact oak forest.

The lawsuit also says the project would result in several unavoidable significant impacts, in many cases failed to identify adequate mitigation, and would result in the destruction of an intact oak forest—removing thousands of mature oak trees that support a web of species.

"The project will also result in significant impacts to other biological resources, including rare species, as well as air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, land use and planning, population and housing, transportation, and growth-inducing impact," the lawsuit reads.

Nipomo Action Committee Director Alison Martinez said that the group doesn't support the notion that ripping out an old oak forest to build "luxury" homes will help fix the housing storage.

"Many other impacts from the project are a result of the significant and unplanned population growth and will increase Nipomo's population by 25 percent," she said. "Without the sufficient infrastructure to support this huge increase, our existing and future citizens will suffer. This is unacceptable; Nipomo deserves better."

During a two-day Board of Supervisors meeting on April 23 and 24, Tompkins spoke about how his 280-acre project will build more than 1,370 residential units, with 156 deed-restricted to very low- and low-income affordable housing.

Many community members, including Bill Waycott from the California Native Plant Society, told supervisors that the housing project isn't worth the environmental impact—a loss of more than 3,000 oak trees and Burton Mesa chaparral habitat.

Waycott said the California Native Plant Society joined the Nipomo Action Committee in the lawsuit because the environmental impacts are unacceptable and the county shouldn't have even considered approving this project.

"If allowed to go forward, this project would eliminate significant acreage of the mesa's oak woodland and maritime chaparral habitats, unique to the Nipomo area and some of the last remaining stands in San Luis Obispo County," he said. "The project's mitigation plan is devious and a betrayal of trust, because it proposes protection of oaks located in the mountains east of Nipomo as a substitute for the 3,000 plus oak trees destined for destruction within the development acreage."

Tompkins told New Times that it's disappointing that these organizations have chosen to delay much-needed investments in the community, but he's confident that the county complied with all laws.

"The county general plan has planned for the Dana Reserve area to be developed for decades. The project will bring much needed affordable and workforce housing, housing for local teachers, a community college facility, and transportation and water infrastructure that will serve and make lives better for the entire community," he said via email. "The project has been thoroughly vetted in numerous public hearings and through an EIR [environmental impact report] that complies fully with CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act]. Substantial changes were incorporated in response to both requests from the county and the broader community."

The Board of Supervisors approved the project with a 3-2 vote where 1st District Supervisor John Peschong, 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold, and 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg voted in favor of the project, and 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson and 4th District Supervisor Jimmy Paulding voted against it.

Paulding told New Times via email that he would have liked to have seen a project that fully "addressed community concerns and environmental impacts. It's unfortunate that a compromise was not reached, and the project is now in litigation."

The four other supervisors were unable to provide New Times with comments about the lawsuit before press time.

Martinez said she's confident that the Dana Reserve project won't be built.

"Our lawsuit exposes the fatal flaws with the project's environmental impact report, and we feel confident that a judge will agree with us," she said. "Questions remain about the approval for the water allocation, and cost-sharing details are still not finalized. It remains unclear how much will be shouldered by the ratepayers." Δ

Readers Poll

Do you think the SLO County Board of Supervisors should have gone against their policy that states funding for independent special districts should not result in a net fiscal loss to the county?

  • A. Yes, the housing and job opportunity the Dana Reserve is bringing is important
  • B. No, it's giving special privileges to the Nipomo Community Services District
  • C. I trust them, they know what's best for the county
  • D. What's going on?

View Results

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