Sunil Kayal dreamt of building a large children’s cancer hospital near Morro Bay.
The facility, called The Global Village, was planned for a 253-acre property on Highway 41 just east of Morro Bay, with space for 300 children, who could have enjoyed the area’s scenic beauty and natural environment. Most of the land was supposed to be preserved as open space, with an organic farm on 50 acres of land and another 50 acres for grazing and ranching.
The project itself was a sizeable, complicated proposal. Before that moved forward, however, the land itself needed to be re-designated from agricultural to recreational. That re-designation was scheduled to go before the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 17.
But Kayal withdrew it.
He told New Times that after working with the multitude of agencies that would be involved in permitting the project, approving the land designation change, and reviewing a possible bid to annex the land into the city, he decided that he wouldn’t move forward. That process would have included the county department of planning and building and the agricultural commissioner’s office, the city of Morro Bay, the California Coastal Commission, and the SLO County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), to name a few.
“The city of Morro Bay was not very helpful; the agricultural department was not very helpful; the Coastal Commission was not very helpful; and they see me as a developer,” Kayal said. “I’m not a developer.”
While the details of the project itself are a bit curious, the land’s classification and possible annexation into the city were the two imminent issues to be reviewed. Changing the land’s classification would have been an exhaustive, far reaching process, especially because the property includes prime soil types. Annexing property into the city is also a long, complicated undertaking, requiring the allocation of significant public services from the city, including water that the city does not currently have available.
SLO County Senior Planner James Caruso and Morro Bay Community Development Director Scot Graham both told New Times that they had spent a significant amount of time walking Kayal through the processes that would be required for the project to move forward.
The facility itself was supposed to be a 300,000-square-foot children’s cancer hospital operated by Kayal’s nonprofit Teach Around and designed to bring children in from around the world.
Kayal told New Times that the facility would require a total of $450 million, including $90 million for construction costs and $360 million for an endowment that would finance the annual operation costs. He said he would be able to finance about $10 million of that total. The rest of the funding, according to his Teach About website, would come from the Vatican, Taiwan, and 24 countries chosen because they pass a standard that assesses “social progress, press freedom, and per capita income.” Possible funders included government agencies, development assistance agencies, foundations, corporations, and billionaires.
According to GuideStar, a website that provides information—including finances—about registered nonprofits, Teach About has $33,849 in assets.
Kayal, a 77-year-old retired development economist who said he worked for several international agencies including the United Nations, said that he did not plan to further pursue building the hospital.
“I just became totally worn out,” Kayal said.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay