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Cayucos motel project hits a nerve

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In the small ocean town of Cayucos there’s a fear that a planned new building could degrade the lifestyle residents there revere.

PACKED :  Dozens of Cayucos residents pack the supervisors’ chambers during the Cayucos Del Mar project appeal. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PACKED : Dozens of Cayucos residents pack the supervisors’ chambers during the Cayucos Del Mar project appeal.

It’s to be called the Cayucos Del Mar, a mixed-use project with 18 motel units and four condos. But the building would dwarf surrounding structures and block neighbors’ ocean views, members of the Concerned Citizens of Cayucos worry.

While SLO County supervisors were divided on what to do with the project, and decided to wait until Oct. 28 for a final vote, it appeared that opponents failed in attempts to have the project cut from three stories to two.

Cayucos Del Mar’s developer Frank DeCicco appealed to the Board of Supervisors after the County Planning Commission approved his project with several caveats, the most contentious of which was to remove the third floor. DeCicco said that losing that floor would strangle the project’s profit margin.

Hours of public testimony and debate among supervisors dragged the Oct. 7 appeal hearing 3 1/2 hours past schedule.

Concerned Citizens of Cayucos member Bruce Paine said, “From day one we have stressed the importance of reducing the massiveness of it.”

Throngs of residents argued that the Cayucos Del Mar did not mesh with their cherished small community. Many came armed with photos, architectural sketches, and even three-dimensional models. Paul Choucalas brought with him an elaborate homemade model and used small toy cars to demonstrate hazardous traffic scenarios that some argued would be made worse with the addition of a motel.

And, for the most part, supervisors agreed that the project needed more work. Each member, with the exception of Supervisor Harry Ovitt, pushed for a redesigned project that would scale down the visual obstruction, particularly of a vertical wall at the project’s rear.

But what began as a consensus with the board disintegrated as Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Jerry Lenthall wrestled over specifics of how a redesign should look. Lenthall said he wanted the rear of the building to be as attractive as the front, allowing the third floor so long as it would be set back and reduce the appearance of a sheer wall. Gibson, however, asked for the vertical walls to be reduced and for a break in the building’s horizontal face.

Ultimately Lenthall came out ahead with a 4-1 approval of his motion to tentatively approve the appeal with the expectation that the developer would come back with another design on Oct. 28. Gibson was the only “no” vote.

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