Opinion » Commentaries

Setting the record straight

The A-B-C's of The Marketplace according to Ernie


As we approach voting day, April 26, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of supporters we've heard from, both within and outside the city of San Luis Obispo. It is gratifying to receive such strong support for the Dalidio Ranch Marketplace project. Kristie and I have worked extremely hard to bring this project to reality, and have been overwhelmed by the kind response we have received.

There has been much speculation about the Dalidio Ranch Marketplace. What, clearly, are the benefits of the project, and what is the downside? Can it built in the county? Will it destroy the downtown? Is the Prado Road overpass going to cost $22 million, or $46 million, or $100 million? (Yes - all of those figures have been tossed around). Much of what residents have heard has been misinformation, and in some instances outright deception. Allow me to set the record straight.

Can the project be built in the county? Yes. Our property currently resides in the county, and we currently have an application before the county to build this project. If the voters reject a city project, we will proceed with a different project in the county. We understand we have some hurdles - so what's new? But the arguments made by our opponents lack credibility when analyzing the details of a county-built project.

For instance, our opponents say that the project could not meet water treatment standards for the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), citing a study commissioned by Warren Sinsheimer and conducted by EDA of San Luis Obispo. Unfortunately, EDA's analysis lacked appropriate depth in considering the many ways to treat water on this site. We have consulted with Metcalf & Eddy, one of the nation's top engineering firms. This company specializes in the design and construction of water treatment plants. They have advised us that water could easily be treated with the installation of a "package plant," which would more than adequately handle the proposed Marketplace project and accommodate the proposed housing and business park. One doesn't have to go far to find a similar water treatment system in San Luis Obispo County. In fact, just outside our city limits, a similar "package plant" serving 12 different property owners exists on Fiero Lane, next to the SLO County Airport. As recently as two years ago, this system received approval from RWQB and the Board of Supervisors.

This is a project designed for and best suited in the city of San Luis Obispo. Kristie and I have always felt this project would best fit in the city. However, it is a project that can be built in the county.

If we must go to the county, it is unlikely we will present the same type of project as the current project proposed for the city. First of all, we will not offer the 55 acres of open space. We will look at other alternatives for land use, and will likely include more development. Additionally, we will not provide funds to preserve additional open space on the fringe of the city.

A project brought to the county will likely have a different mix of retail, will probably be more pedestrian friendly, and will certainly be adjusted, design-wise, to accommodate county planning standards.

The Development Agreement we have entered into with the city will not exist, opening up competitive opportunities for the Marketplace. And of course, retail sales tax revenues would all go to the county, not the city of San Luis Obispo.

This is a project designed for and best suited in the city of San Luis Obispo. Kristie and I have always felt this project would best fit in the city. However, it is a project that can be built in the county.

As a city project, we are committed to building the Dalidio Ranch Marketplace in a way that emphasizes the distinct design of the center and promotes the unique character of our community. It will bring new shopping choices to San Luis Obispo, without threatening the unique retail mix of downtown. It will provide much needed new revenues to our city through retail sales tax revenues, and provide new property tax revenues of more than $600,000 annually to local schools. The Prado Road overpass will be paid for with retail tax dollars and not by local residents, and 55 acres of open space will be preserved within our city borders, with an additional 24 acres in the urban reserve. By the way, the city's share of the cost of the Prado Road overpass is about $6.5 million. The money will come from the Transportation Impact Fees (TIF) fund, which consists of fees that developers pay to support citywide transportation projects anytime a new project is built in the city. The Dalidio Ranch Marketplace itself will pay over $1 million into that fund. There will be no cost to taxpayers.

Thanks again to those local residents and friends that have helped us in many more ways than we ever anticipated. For your tireless work and support on the Dalidio Ranch Marketplace project we are deeply grateful. ³


Ernie Dalidio can be reached at

For more perspectives on The Marketplace, please see pages 20 and 21 and letters to the editor on page 17.

Add a comment