On Nov. 7, San Luis Obispo County voters overwhelmingly approved Measure J one of the hottest issues in San Luis Obispo County with 65 percent of the vote. The initiative allows Ernie Dalidio to transform his 131-acres of ex-farmland into a development slated to include an organic farm, a seven-day-a-week farmers' market, a business park, recreation areas, and, of course, a shopping center.
- PHOTO BY KAREN VELIE
- "J" ALL THE WAY : Ernie Dalidio (center) shared a celebratory hug with Scott Dabney (left) and Bill Bird (right) at the culmination of the most-talked-about issue in this county election.
# "It is really truly not about me," Dalidio said Tuesday night as his supporters celebrated their victory. "The people that voted are the winners. I can tell you, winning is better than losing."
Measure J opponents have voiced their concerns over traffic and environmental issues regarding the development, but have no plans to oppose the election results.
"We will be shutting the campaign down after the election," said "No on J" campaign manager Katy Kerner.
Dalidio has been trying to build his project for more than 16 years. At one point, he received approval from the city of San Luis Obispo, though a referendum led him to turn to the county's initiative process.
That referendum route is no longer available to opponents of the Dalidio Ranch development. Even so, they have the right to attempt another initiative, according to Measure J author attorney Michael Morris.
"They can't stop us from proceeding on our project just because they start a new initiative," said Morris. "If they want to do a new initiative, they would have to do what we did: circulate a petition, qualify for the ballot, and go through with an election."
Following his win, Dalidio will have little time to rest.
"First, we need to start the process through the county. We need to work with the water resource board, and right along, we will be working on the overpass," he said. "We met with Caltrans. They told us, 'We are not here to be obstructionists. If you win on the 7th, we will be there on the 8th to get it started.'"