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Developer's Initiative Thrown Out, Citizen Initiative Upheld

A pro-development initiative in San Luis Obispo County was not the proper subject for an initiative, a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge has ruled. Meanwhile, a slow-growth initiative approved by Loma Linda voters in 2006 was upheld by a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge.

In November 2006, San Luis Obispo County voters approved a measure backed by property owner Ernie Dalidio, who has been trying to develop 130 acres on the south edge of San Luis Obispo since the 1980s. About 65% of voters supported Measure J, which permitted development of a 530,000-square-foot retail center, 100,000 square feet of office space, 60 residential units and a 150-room hotel (see CP&DR, December 2006).

Project opponents sued and Judge Roger Picquet ruled that Measure J was not legal because approval of the specific, detailed development project was an adjudicatory function, not a purely legislative act. Initiatives must be solely legislative. Picquet also ruled the measure illegal because it removed Dalidio's property from an airport review combining district without a determination of consistency by the Airport Land Use Commission, as required by the State Aeronautics Act.

An appeal appears certain. The case is Citizens for Planning Responsibly v. County of San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Case No. CV 070164.

In Loma Linda, Measure V established a 7,200-square-foot minimum lot size, capped building heights, imposed new traffic mitigation requirements and limited development of the "South Hills" area (see CP&DR, December 2006; Local Watch, December 2005).

Holland Partners, which hopes to develop a 138-acre housing and commercial project, sued over Measure V. The developer argued, among other things, that the initiative was inconsistent with the city's general plan, made compliance with fair-share housing requirements impossible, and unconstitutionally exempted Loma Linda University.

Judge John Wade rejected all of Holland Partners' arguments. An appeal is likely.
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