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Three-story hotel proposed in Cayucos denied

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On Feb. 7, the California Coastal Commission denied a controversial hotel project in Cayucos that had been under discussion for more than a decade.

Landowner Franco DeCicco pitched the three-story, 19-room hotel in southern Cayucos as a low-cost family destination. The property on Old Creek Road and Ocean Boulevard currently houses Sunfire Gallery Art and Glass.

DENIED The Coastal Commission voted 8-2 against a contentious hotel project in southern Cayucos on Feb. 7. - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION
  • Image Courtesy Of The California Coastal Commission
  • DENIED The Coastal Commission voted 8-2 against a contentious hotel project in southern Cayucos on Feb. 7.

But many residents in the Old Creek Road neighborhood—and throughout Cayucos—staunchly opposed the project as being too big and out of character with the community.

"If you look at the houses around it and then picture the three-story block—it is not compatible with this neighborhood. It just isn't," Cayucos Citizens Advisory Council President John Carsel told the commissioners on Feb. 7. "Cayucos values tremendously its funkiness. ... Once we start getting these three-story units ... we're not going to be that anymore. We're going to be Newport Beach."

In a packed meeting room in Cambria, the commission sided with the concerned residents, voting 10-2 to deny the project.

It wasn't the first time the Coastal Commission had objected to the hotel. When SLO County first approved the project in 2008, it got appealed to the Coastal Commission. In 2009, the Coastal Commission found substantial issues with its mass and scale. In response, DeCicco sued the Coastal Commission, arguing that the county's approval of the hotel should not have been appealable to the Coastal Commission.

The commission won that lawsuit, and in 2015, DeCicco began reconfiguring the hotel to house fewer units on the top floor, reduce the overall occupancy of the hotel, and move parking to an underground lot.

DeCicco's representative Chuck Stevenson told New Times that the new project appeared to meet the Coastal Commission's concerns and was within the bounds of land-use policies.

"It met every standard," Stevenson said.

Supporters of the hotel included SLO County 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold and Tax Assessor Tom Bordonaro, who both wrote statements of support to the Coastal Commission citing the positive economic impacts.

But many more attending the commission hearing stood against it, including Cayucos resident and SLO County 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

"It is grossly out of scale for the residential neighborhood for which it is proposed," Gibson said. "Almost 40 percent of the houses and condos in Cayucos are either second homes or short-term rentals. ... This has a profound effect on neighborhood character already."

Stevenson said DeCicco is putting any plans for his property on hold in the wake of the commission's denial. Δ

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