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Paso council rejects developer's plea for refund 

The proposed Chandler Ranch development east of downtown Paso Robles has been troubled since its inception in 2001, and the Paso Robles City Council took another oppositional stance against the site’s developers during the Sept. 18 council meeting.

According to Community Development Director Ed Gallagher, the city has spent roughly $1.36 million since 2001 to prepare the draft Chandler Ranch Specific Plan (CRASP). However, those expenses are considered a loan to eventually be recovered via fees collected from developers and future occupants of the roughly 827-acre CRASP area, which could accommodate 1,439 housing units.

At the meeting, Larry Wurth, the managing partner of Jonatkim Enterprises—one of the site’s developers—submitted a letter asking the city to forgive that entire $1.4 million in expenses incurred drafting the Chandler Ranch plans.

After two speakers at public comment lambasted the city for fiduciary recklessness—and for even considering forgiving the expenses—the council unanimously denied Wurth’s request on a 4-0 vote.

Mayor Duane Picanco said he “doesn’t usually like to forgive” such development expenses, and Councilman Steve Martin said he was “not comfortable” with the city taking on that monetary burden.

Pro-developer audience members were shaking their heads and audibly mumbling during the anti-developer public comment, though none offered any public comment of their own. Several people left immediately after the council’s rejection of Wurth’s plea.

In the letter, Wurth wrote, “The city’s desire to pass through the past CRASP expenses to this project, when the work was completed at the direction of the City, for plans that are not being used and studies that are out of date, is unfathomable.”

The CRASP project has languished in development hell for many years, and is currently on its fourth incarnation of a development plan, after the previous three were deemed inadequate for various reasons.

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