Franco DeCicco calls it his dream. Neighbors call it an eyesore in waiting.
At the March 27 San Luis Obispo County planning commission meeting, both sides will learn whether a revised version of DeCicco's controversial Cayucos Del Mar project--a multilevel, multiuse building proposed on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Old Creek Road in Cayucos--will move forward.
For DeCicco, the project represents what America is all about.
During World War II, DeCicco's family fled Italy for the safer lands of Uruguay. In 1965, he made the move from South America to New York. He said he arrived in the United States as did many immigrants.
"I had a suitcase, $100 in my pocket, and a dream," DeCicco said. "I remember my grandfather telling me, 'You play by the rules, work hard, and you'll be successful.'"
In 1999--34 years after he first set foot on American soil--DeCicco purchased the property in the coastal community of Cayucos. Shortly after the acquisition, he began the process to build. In 2006, he contacted local architect Kim Hatch to help design the project.
According to Hatch, the initial design concepts were ill-received by the community. Public outcry prompted them to alter the building's plans.
"We went to several meetings and listened to what the community was saying and made modifications," he said. "The style has been changed from a Mediterranean-California style to a beach style to reflect the residential surrounding architecture."
The adjustments, however, don't seem to please everyone.
"We're opposed to it primarily because of its massiveness and its incompatibility with our neighborhood," said Bruce Paine, who has lived next to the proposed site for seven years. "I moved here from Orange County, so I have a good idea of how not to do it."
Paine is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Cayucos--a group that formed in an attempt to prevent this development from moving forward. The group has collected hundreds of signatures from people who oppose the project.
Hatch believes the group is misinformed and is misrepresenting the project, especially in terms of its height. According to Hatch, the proposed project ranges in height from 14 to 30 feet and meets all guidelines set forth by the county.
County Supervising Planner Mike Wulkan agreed that the project meets all standards and requirements for the general plan and local coastal program and believes the building should be approved.
"We have done studies on visual effects and traffic," he said, "and we've concluded there would not be any significant effect."
"It will look nice from Highway 1," Paine said. "But it will be an eyesore from the neighborhood."
Despite the community backlash, DeCicco said he wants to work with the community.
"We want to be good neighbors," he said. "My grandkids are going to be living there, so I want it to be good situation and a happy place."
Wulkan expects something a little different.
"We know it's going to be controversial," he said of the project. "With so many people on both sides, it should be interesting."