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Fight against proposed Pismo hotel goes to court

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There’s a new front in the battle over the construction of a hotel in Pismo Beach: SLO County Superior Court.

A group calling itself Central Coast Environmental Protection filed a petition with the court July 2 asking to halt approval of permits for the BeachWalk Hotel, a proposed 128-room hotel on Pismo’s beachfront. The petition to the court comes as appeals to halt the project are pending before the California Coastal Commission.

The project was approved by the city’s planning commission and that decision was appealed by some residents and property owners. The Pismo Beach City Council denied those appeals on a 4-1 vote at its June 2 meeting. The court petition asserts that the council’s decision was not supported by “substantial evidence” and that it “failed to proceed according to the law.”

The petition argues that the project doesn’t comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. Among other concerns, the petition states that the project failed to address the hotel’s water use during a time when the council already declared critical water supply conditions in the city. It also states that the city and Nexus Companies, which proposed the project, didn’t adequately address the impact the 94,000-square-foot resort would have on beachfront views for other Pismo residents. 

“The lawsuit is asking the court to tell the city to start all over (on the project) and do proper environmental analysis,” said Ted Case, president of Central Coast Environmental Protection group and a full-time Pismo resident. “They need to consider the cumulative impact of their decision.”

Appellants at the June 2 meeting brought up both the water and beach view issues. During that meeting, Nexus staff stated that the company would work with the city to offset the resort’s estimated water use by 125 percent through paying for water mitigation efforts in Pismo. City staff agreed it was a good idea and recommended that the council deny the appeals. According to Nexus, the hotel would also bring in an estimated $1.5 million in annual tax revenue to the city and create between 50 and 60 new jobs. 

Nexus didn’t respond to a request for comment on the petition. Case said Pismo residents have long been concerned with large-scale commercial hotel projects, and he characterized the BeachWalk as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“It this kind of extreme growth how the city plans to get through one of the worst droughts in history?” he asked. “It’s insane.” 

As of July 8, neither Nexus nor the city had responded to the group’s petition in court. Meanwhile the California Costal Commission has received at least five appeals, one of them penned by Case, related to the Beachwalk project. The commission hasn’t yet set a date to hear and make a decision on those appeals.

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