H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Jun 8, 2011 9:29 PM by Danielle Lerner

Court rejects Sunny Acres' appeal of county injunction

People living at Sunny Acres could soon be forced to move after an appeal by the sober-living facility is rejected.

San Luis Obispo County can now move forward with code enforcement at Sunny Acres. Last July a judge ordered the people living in illegal structures be out by September 3. The trial court also found issues with the drinking water, stored vehicles and condemned buildings on the property. Rancher Dan DeVaul appealed the July ruling and the Second District Court of Appeals in Ventura rejected it Tuesday.

"To all of us Sunny Acres is home, please don't take our home," said Serenity Jones, who lives at the facility. Jones admits the makeshift homes do not comply with county code, but she and DeVaul say the alternative is much worse.

"Living in these sheds is certainly better than living in the San Luis Creek," DeVaul said.

"It's hard to survive and that's when the addictions will kick in down there, to get out of the reality of living there," said Jones.

In its ruling Tuesday the Second District Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a county injunction to vacate illegal buildings on the property and address several code enforcement violations.

The appeals court also ruled that, "..neither Sunny Acres nor DeVaul has any intention of voluntarily abating the violations. The trial court would have abused its discretion had it not issued a preliminary injunction."

Still, DeVaul says that is not the case, insisting he is in the process of cleaning up and trying to build an 8,000 square foot building to properly house Sunny Acres residents.

He says he is asking for leniency.

"It needs to be relaxed just like the Federal Housing Act says that the interpretation of the laws, when you're dealing with disabled people, is supposed to be flexible," said DeVaul.

San Luis Obispo County's Deputy Counsel says the county, "has always hoped for voluntary compliance and we still do hope that there will be voluntary compliance by Mr. DeVaul and Sunny Acres."

The county says it will move forward with its code compliance efforts at the property but no timeline is in place yet.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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