A project that would build a 3,256-foot mansion with 2,376 more square feet in a second residential unit, two-car garage and decking on small, picturesque Cerrito Peak in south Morro Bay has been approved by the city Planning Commission, alarming residents in the surrounding neighborhood who have appealed the decision to the City Council to urge that thorough studies of the environmental impacts of the development be required before it is allowed to be undertaken.
The hearing before the Council on the appeal is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, November 8, at the Veterans Memorial Building. The Council Meeting begins at 6:00 p.m., but the time of the hearing had not been set as of October 31, although such hearings usually begin at 7:00 p.m.
The project site is on a rocky peak, surrounded by boulders and eucalyptus trees, with houses around the entire base of the peak on Main Street, Olive Street, Cerrito Place, and Acacia Street. The Peak can be accessed via Cerrito Place off of Olive Street.
It was approved by the Planning Commission on October 5 without an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is a main reason the approval has been appealed to the Council, residents say.
The development proposed by Morro Bay realtor Dan Reddell also includes two uncovered parking spaces for the second unit and guest parking, an approximately 400-foot driveway and "hammerhead" turnaround and retaining walls, which will require tree and vegetation removal.
The Peak also is an established sacred site for Native Americans, who are now free to move about the peak for prayer and spiritual worship, which means the project will cause significant impacts to the Native American community, residents say. Residents contend it is illegal to build on an established Native American sacred site.
Not only would nearby property owners be impacted, but the massive project would likely displace much of the abundant wildlife on the Peak, including owls, monarch butterflies, and countless species of birds, including hawks.
There have been no sufficient studies to show how excavation of the hill would impact nearby property owners, residents say, such as how rain water would drain off the hill and be collected once the site is excavated and how utilities would be connected and sewer lines installed without disrupting surrounding properties.
Some 22 eucalyptus trees and other vegetation would have to be removed to prepare the site for construction, they said.
The project site apparently is zoned R-1 residential, which residents say may make the development inconsistent with requirements of the city's General Plan and Land Use Plan. That question is being investigated.
But even if it is zoned R-1 residential, they said, the project still must meet terms of the California Environmental Quality Act, city codes and ordinances, and an EIR must be conducted and its findings observed.
Development of actual streets to serve the project would need to be undertaken, residents said. Alta Street, they said, is now only a street on a map of the area and is owned by the city. It would connect Cerrito Place to the proposed development. Jordan Terrace is also only a "map" street that is on top of the peak and would need to be developed. It then would become the technical address for the proposed new mansion at One Jordan Terrace.
Residents opposing the project say in-depth studies also need to be conducted on impacts to the area's biological resources, including rare plants, migratory birds, monarch butterfly habitats, geology/soil characteristics, noise, aesthetics, and land use.
The city's initial study ignored and fails to identify or analyze all potential impacts of the proposed project, they contend. The city's proposed mitigation measures also fail to adequately mitigate the proposed project's impacts, which clearly will be significant.
The appeals filed by residents say the site project "relies upon exceptions to city standards to allow uncovered parking in the front yard, fencing within the right of way, and waiver of requirements for frontage improvements along the undeveloped rights of way known as Alta Street and Jordan Terrace."
Not only have the true impacts of this project not been properly addressed in an EIR, but the builder is asking for exceptions to codes and rules that other applicants for city development permits must and have had to comply with, the residents say.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Planning Commission, after it conducted a hearing, which was marked by comments from many project opponents, determined that there were no major objections to the development and approved a permit to build.
Four appeals were filed by residents of the area. Their website is Save Cerrito Peak.
More information about the project is available at Facebook - Save Cerrito Peak in Morro Bay