Save the Park asks to drop three charges over a project at Cerrito Peak



More than two years after filing a lawsuit against Morro Bay and Dan Reddell over his single-family residential project on Cerrito Peak, the group Save the Park has filed to dismiss three of its 11 causes of action.

“All the players and the city attorney, everybody’s flipped over,” Betty Winholtz, a director of the Save the Park, said of the decision. She added that the election in 2012 and subsequent staff changeovers have given the group’s board of directors reason to believe some issues can now be settled outside of court.

Save the Park filed its lawsuit in February 2012, protesting the city’s approval of a single-family residence atop Cerrito Peak, also known as Eagle Rock, a Native American ceremonial site. In December 2011, city council members voted 4-1 to deny four separate appeals on the project and in the process disregarded a warning letter from the California Coastal Commission about its concerns with the site.

The subsequent lawsuit sought to override that approval on a number of grounds, among them that the city didn’t require site surveys before construction and that the project would eat up public easements. Though Judge Jac Crawford hadn’t issued his ruling as of press time—a two-day trial wrapped up in February—Save the Park filed to dismiss the issues concerning easements and site surveys, opting instead to work outside the court setting.

“The City Council was entirely different and the staff was different when it was filed,” Save the Park’s attorney Cynthia Hawley said. “And it just seems that there’s a better chance of reaching a resolution at this point stepping away from the contention of litigation.”

Reddell, the project applicant, didn’t respond to a request for comment before press time.

Despite the three dismissed causes of action, Save the Park is awaiting a ruling on eight remaining causes, which include charges that the project violates the Morro Bay Local Coastal Program and the California Coastal Act, as well as the California Environmental Quality Act and Morro Bay policies concerning tree and vegetation removal.

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