County to Buy More Paper Lots

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.

March 12, 2021

San Luis Obispo County is buying up another slug of so-called “paper lots” on a Cayucos hillside, after the owners quit paying taxes on them years ago.
County Supervisors were asked March 2 to approve spending $40,000 to purchase 18 of the infamous Cayucos paper lots, an old subdivision that was deemed unsuitable for development, mainly because of the steep slopes and unstable soils.
Over the past couple of decades and after the County deemed the lots “unbuildable,” the owners have stopped paying property taxes and the County has on several occasions purchased lots through a tax forfeiture process that was put into place by Supervisors back in 1988.
The owners of these current lots haven’t paid property taxes for at least 5 years, according to a report.
The ‘Tax Deeded Property Acquisition Policy,’ “directed that tax-defaulted properties, which have been deemed sub-standard for development or are located in uneconomic subdivisions or paper subdivisions of land such as is found in Cayucos, La Grande Beach, and California Valley be considered for purchase,” reads a staff report.
The County Central Services Department, which is buying the lots for “the purpose of public use,” asked for $40,000 to be transferred out of the County’s General Fund Reserves. The purchase also included another parcel “the site of a former landfill” in Creston along with the Cayucos lots.
The deal isn’t sealed just yet, however, the County must offer the lots for sale at an auction to be held in June. Assuming no one buys the lots they would go to the County for the price of the unpaid taxes.
Supervisor’s approval of the sale/purchase must also be first approved by the State Controller’s Office and then the owners of the lots must also be notified.
The owners would be given the chance to pay the back taxes and possibly keep their unusable property, but in the several times these lots were purchased for nonpayment of taxes, no one has tried to hang on to them.
If the lots were buildable, given the unblocked, panoramic views of Estero Bay, they could be worth millions.
Any owner of these lots has until 5 p.m. Friday, May 28 to pay the taxes and keep their property. On Tuesday, June 1 they go on the auction block.
The County is a so-called “Teeter County,” and as such the vast majority of the proceeds from tax lien sales stays local. However, the State will get a cut, albeit a small one.
“This transaction is revenue neutral with the exception of $1.50 per parcel to the State of California [a total of $28.50], which is part of the sale process and is included in the $40,000,” the County report said.
Bringing all these paper lots into public ownership is among the top priorities for the Cayucos Land Conservancy, which wants them to be added to an open space, greenbelt around Cayucos on three sides.

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