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Nipomo is still paradise for most 

It's easy to criticize, but real solutions are complicated

NIPOMO’S INN :  The Kaleidoscope Inn, a Victorian home, was built in 1887. - PHOTO BY DAVID LLOYD
  • PHOTO BY DAVID LLOYD
  • NIPOMO’S INN : The Kaleidoscope Inn, a Victorian home, was built in 1887.

When I read the commentary about Nipomo development (“Stop paving paradise,” Feb. 10), I was a little confused by the nature of the story in general and dismayed in particular that the Kaleidoscope Inn somehow got sucked into the article because of a couple of carefully selected (and may I say unverified) reviews from Yelp. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the owner of the Kaleidoscope Inn Bed and Breakfast in Nipomo.

It is important to note a few facts about Nipomo that many locals may not be aware of. Nipomo is an unincorporated part of San Luis Obispo County and therefore is subject to the regulations and ordinances specified in the SLO County General Plan. Nipomo is not currently a city, and other than some “Design Plans” created for specific areas in Nipomo with input from local community groups, development in Nipomo is overseen by the County Planning Department according to the General Plan.

I have personally been involved in many of these local community groups and have provided my input when possible, sitting in on dozens of meetings regarding everything from roads to parks to affordable housing—you name it, and I’ve been in a meeting about it. I was also a board member of the South County Advisory Council (SCAC) for four years, spending countless hours listening to and providing input on virtually all development projects in the Nipomo region.

In all that time spent “in the trenches” of community development, I’ve come to realize a few basic truths. Most importantly, nothing is as simple as it seems. Roads alone are a huge issue. Suffice it to say: There is a great deal of interface required with SLOCOG, County Public Works, and Cal Trans, to name some of the agencies involved in this issue alone.

For instance, the Willow Road extension has been in the planning process for more than 30 years, and the route was carefully, sometimes painfully, considered in countless planning and town hall meetings. The oak trees have been a major point of concern, and the trees affected by the road will either be relocated or replaced in a suitable local location. So when I hear people commenting on this issue, now that it is finally becoming a reality, it can be a little frustrating. Most of these meetings were very poorly attended, except for the road planning agency representative and the core community group.

The next most important issue I’ve learned in helping develop a community is to get involved, persevere, and be patient. I’ve been here more than 10 years and am just now getting a handle on how things really work. In all the meetings I’ve participated in regarding issues affecting Nipomo, I have never met nor heard of Doug Jenzen, who seemed to have strong opinions about Nipomo and its development. He also mentioned the Kaleidoscope Inn in his article. Though I realize he was not specifically criticizing the Kaleidoscope Inn, he did reference some random reviews that commented on the area where the Inn is located. To make sure we all understand, there are dozens of reviews available for the Kaleidoscope Inn, and most are overwhelmingly positive. The review below is literally from the first review I pulled from a random search result:

“We really enjoyed the Kaleidoscope Inn & Gardens bed and breakfast! It is a cute and well-kept old Victorian home in the quaint town of Nipomo.”

My point is you can skew a story using out-of-context quotes any way you want, but before you make sweeping comments about a business or step your foot in the world of real community planning and development, it would be best to research your subject and consult with those who have been shouldering the bulk of the work on these issues.

Old Town Nipomo (east side of Highway 101) has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. The Kaleidoscope Inn was built in 1887 and is a true Victorian home on an acre of gardens. The neighborhood now surrounding it was built in the 1960s. To suggest that the county should never have approved any development in Nipomo for more than 200 years is naive at best. Many academics and historians wish we could “freeze” time as a snapshot of a particular period in history, but reality and economics don’t work that way.

When we purchased the Kaleidoscope, we were fully aware of the neighborhood where it is located. We did not view that as a negative, but spent our energy on embracing the historic nature of the area and focused our attention on maintaining and improving a true piece of history in our community, and we take that responsibility very seriously. As stewards of the inn, we have run a successful “mom-and-pop” business for more than 10 years and continue to grow even in these trying times.

Do I wish roads had kept up with development and that the county had applied a better system to make sure the road impact fees developers paid actually translated to better roads and smoother traffic control? Yes. But I also know every month there is a traffic and circulation meeting, as well as a SCAC meeting, and if anyone is truly interested in making Nipomo a better place, I suggest they get involved. We would appreciate your constructive input.

I trust that most people will consider the original commentary for what it was, an opinion piece, and will consider the source. For those who know the Kaleidoscope Inn and Old Town Nipomo, we accept the good with the bad, but are always working hard to improve it without losing the rural nature we all love. And those of us who truly love Nipomo will keep doing the real work of attending planning meetings and providing input when it is appropriate—and not simply criticize projects once they have been completed.

Kevin Beauchamp is owner of the Kaleidoscope Inn. Send comments to the opinion editor at econnolly@newtimesslo.com.

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