Apr 11, 2012 2:58 AM by Ariel Wesler

Cal Poly students bringing new life to Sunny Acres

There is new hope tonight for local rancher Dan De Vaul and his embattled sober living facility, Sunny Acres.

De Vaul has been battling San Luis Obispo County for years over the property off Los Osos Valley Road. Sunny Acres is currently under the control of a court-appointed receiver. That action was taken after the county said De Vaul repeatedly failed to comply with health and safety codes. The latest cleanup effort involves Cal Poly students.

PolyHouse is a group of engineering student who take on a project every spring. They usually remodel a home in a six week period. Clearly, this is much more than that.

This is the largest project they've ever undertaken.

"We wanted to be the year to make a difference and to make it a project but times ten," said Annie Duong, one of the project managers.

A complete cleanup of Dan De Vaul's ranch and a chance for help rebuild relations between De Vaul and the county.

"When people are coming and driving on Los Osos and they look over here, and they see Sunny Acres, I want this to represent San Luis Obispo," Duong said.

"In this project, we have the opportunity to change so many different lives, a lot of people in need, compared to just one family," said Alex Mosbacher, who helped coordinate the project.

We ran into Carol Lee Miller, who lives nearby.

"What brings me out here is what brings me out here quite often, which is to get some strawberries," Miller said.

She welcomes the face lift and any chance to remove eye sores.

"I think it's a very good thing and I think De Vaul is an incredibly wonderful man, just from what I've seen him do," she said.

Not all neighbors are as supportive but what these students are doing, certainly can't hurt the chances of Sunny Acre's survival.

"We've got 60 students with the right hearts and the right minds," Duong said.

De Vaul is no stranger to the media, but he declined to comment Tuesday. He and PolyHouse have an agreement that he won't talk. The group says this is highly politically sensitive issue, one that expands beyond just the clean up.

PolyHouse will be back on the property this weekend. The students encourage anyone who wants to volunteer to come out and help.

For more information on PolyHouse and the project, click here.


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