A wide-ranging proposal to allow new housing developments on rural ranchlands has been scrapped after a unanimous decision by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 19.
Various community advisory groups had recommended that the controversial proposed Rural Planned Development Ordinance should not be implemented because of its potential to create sprawl in rural areas.
"The alternative name should be 'leapfrog development ordinance' because this would allow leapfrog development anywhere," Atascadero resident Eric Greening said during a public hearing on the proposal.
"It's clearly special-interest legislation. Speculators who want to squeeze the last drop of gold out of rural land are asking you to turn your back on land-use planning that's been used for years. If you pass this, you might as well paint a bull's-eye on San Luis Obispo County, because of the opportunity for litigation," said attorney Jim Duenow.
Mike Ryan, a real estate agent and former county supervisor, called for a "workable plan" to open up agricultural land for other uses.
"A lot of land is very developable," Ryan said.
"We need to step on this quick, before it multiplies," Supervisor Shirley Bianchi quipped before voting to stop processing the ordinance and to refer the issue to a recently formed committee, which is studying the county's Transfer Development Credit program.
That committee, which includes representatives of agriculture, environmental groups and agencies, developers, and community interests, is "starting to build trust and relationships," according to Supervisor Jerry Lenthall.
Supervisors, staff, and speakers from the public all agreed that the county must face up to the thorny problem of antiquated "paper" subdivisions and underlying legal lots that cover large areas of rural land.