Old Subdivision Raising Hackles Anew

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

October 24, 2023

Drone footage shows the area of the “Estero Pointe,” development that was approved in 1990. Photo by Dean Sullivan

An old subdivision in Los Osos, lying dormant for some 35 years, is getting new life breathed into it, as the Southern California developers move forward with recording a final tract map in what could perhaps be the biggest Halloween dustup since Michael Myers came home.

Anastasi Development of Redondo Beach, Calif., will ask Supervisors to record a final tract map for its Estero Pointe Project (Tract 1646), a 98-lot subdivision that includes one large stormwater drainage basin, and 97 home sites for single family residences.

The project site is a large vacant area across Howard Avenue from the Sea Pines Golf Resort Clubhouse; it spans from Los Osos Valley Road and Monarch Lane to Skyline Drive and Howard Avenue (going north-south); and from Pecho Road to Del Norte Street (east-west). 

All together there are six sizable vacant lots in that larger piece of property, all owned by Anastasi Development. A rendering of the site map shows four interior streets, two of which end in cul-de-sacs, with an entrance off Monarch Lane. The majority of the lots are in the 6,000 to 6,300 square foot range with some oddly shaped lots near the corners of the property being 7,600 s.f. to 9,800 s.f. The largest residential lot is over 10,500 s.f. backs up to LOVR. The storm basin is listed at over 21,300 s.f. There are no park spaces shown in the tract map.

Long-time Los Osos residents might get a sense of déjà vu when they hear the name Anastasi. That’s because back in the later 1990s, Anastasi Development cleared a large piece of property overgrown with eucalyptus trees and built the Monarch Grove subdivision located just down LOVR from Estero Pointe. 

A full-scale logging operation was set up to fell the hundreds of mature eucalyptus trees. This was while the State had its sewer-based building moratorium in place. 

To get around the sewer issue, Monarch Grove built its own package treatment plant at Sea Pines and used the treated wastewater for irrigating the golf course. 

That development also donated several acres of untouched eucalyptus groves for a Monarch butterfly over-wintering preserve. Another parcel added two new holes to Sea Pines Golf Course.

Scott Anastasi of Anastasi Development responded to inquiries made by Estero Bay News. “Anastasi Development has been a part of Los Osos since the late 1990s when the family business built 83 homes in the Monarch Grove subdivision. Anastasi dedicated the popular ‘Butterfly Preserve’ as part of that project.”

This new project, called “Estero Pointe,” (Tract 1646) “was approved in 1990,” Scott Anastasi said, “and after decades of work in connection with numerous issues, the map is now ready to record.” He added that 15 of the 97 lots are to be offered as “affordable units” at discounted prices.

But Los Osos is a closed door right now, in terms of new development, as the County and Coastal Commission clash over whether the Planning Department should be issuing coastal development permits to anyone, so long as the town’s drinking water supply is considered in overdraft.

Indeed, the Coastal Commission sent a letter to the County Planning Department demanding that it stop issuing CDPs to anyone in Los Osos, and Cambria until the water supply issues of both are resolved.

“The agreement Anastasi has with the County,” Anastasi said, “provides no homes would be built until the December 2020 Los Osos Community Plan, which is pending review by the California Coastal Commission, is completed. No site work [including the streets, sidewalks, utilities and storm water basin] would occur until then.”

As it stands now, whenever the County issues any kind of permit to build in Los Osos, either the Coastal Commission staff or a group of local residents, called the Sustainability Group, appeals it. 

The results have been for the Commission to uphold appeals and take over permitting of projects, if they deem that it would add to the over-demand on the town’s groundwater supply, its only source of drinking water at this time. So far, no one has gotten past this roadblock and there seems little movement on the Commission’s review of the Community Plan.

Anastasi said any homes that are eventually built there would hook up to the community sewer system, so they won’t have to provide their own treatment plant this time around. The property owners paid into the sewer district assessments, so they have a place in line already.

The drinking water is slated to come from Golden State Water Co., which has issued a “Will Serve” letter to the project.

“Regarding water,” Anastasi said, “San Luis Obispo County has adopted a ‘Water Neutral’ policy for all developments. Anastasi is poised to contribute to expanding and conserving water supplies for the entire community. 

“A parallel situation occurred in 2000, when Anastasi partnered with Golden State Water Company to construct the water purveyor’s ‘South Bay Well,’ which is still a big producer today.”

But after fighting a sewer war for some 30-plus years and now a skirmish over water, a bigger battle could be looming after S&T Mutual Water Co., which provides water to the Sunset Terrace neighborhood next door, filed a complaint with the State Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) dated Oct. 4. 

The complaint alleges GSW stepped outside its boundaries. The complaint was “due to an illegal infringement on the existing water service area of S&T Mutual Water Company.”

The complaint alleges that S&T Mutual is “the only authorized water purveyor to the parcel in question, but Golden State Water has issued a ‘will-serve’ to the property owner for a 100-home (sic) development.”

The claim is that S&T signed a formal agreement with Cal Cities Water (GSW’s former corporate name) “that states both water purveyors must sign a written agreement if either system is to serve area in the other’s water service area. This agreement was not upheld, yet Golden State Water insists they still have right to serve water to the development.”

The claim accuses GSW of pulling

 a fast one. “It has been said that Golden State Water is banking on S&T Mutual not having the budget to legally defend against this matter, from which Golden State Water Company stands to gain major profits.”

According to the complaint, there is one house existing on the property and S&T Mutual has served it since 1955.

For its part, the advisory council, LOCAC, is sending a letter to Supervisors with its comments on Estero Pointe. LOCAC got a presentation on the project Sept. 28. 

“After the presentation, there were a number of questions and concerns voiced about this project,” the LOCAC letter reads, “which dates back to a 1989 vesting tentative map. The Anastasi project can be a win-win project if the County is willing to address a few concerns from LOCAC.”

Their first issue is the over-drafted groundwater basin. “How can the County and Golden State Water Company accept a will serve letter based on the overdraft issue?”

The 1989 tentative map isn’t up to modern project standards, like requirements to provide park space. “Los Osos would like to see a modern development with parks [Los Osos has the lowest percentage of parks in the County.] and green space. Modern developments are being created throughout SLO County [Righetti Ranch, Isla Hills, Avila Ranch with these amenities]. Los Osos doesn’t understand why the County would accept a housing development map from 1989.”

The third issue has to do with affordable units, which LOCAC mistakenly said there are only five (Scott Anastasi said there were 15). And none will have deed restrictions to ensure they stay affordable.

“These 5 homes can be sold at the full price if they aren’t sold within 6 months,” the LOCAC letter stated. “One of the BOS tasks for the coming years is affordable housing. Is the high $600,000 truly affordable to the residents of Los Osos?”

LOCAC claims the property is “a highly sensitive environmental area” and wants to know about mitigations. “What mitigations are being made for drainage protection of existing habitat and conservation of existing trees?”

The next two issues are related to vehicle traffic and safety of school children going to nearby Monarch Grove Elementary. 

The Supervisors will hear the matter at their Tuesday, Oct. 31 meeting, the agenda/schedule for which has not yet been released. (Typically, public hearings begin after lunch; however, this old tentative tract map dates back over 35 years, so it’s possible it could land on the consent agenda.)

As a subdivision, which requires an update to the General Plan and Local Coastal Program, it could and likely will be appealed to the Coastal Commission.

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