Avila Beach residents circulate petition to try to halt new deve - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Avila Beach residents circulate petition to try to halt new developments

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A petition is circling in Avila Beach to put a hold on new developments like Wild Cherry Canyon until Avila's General Plan is complete.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill says the general plan update is a long, complex process. An Ad Hoc Committee has been working on it for a year now and it will most likely take another three years.

Until then, some residents don't want to see any major developments go up.

"Help Stop Irresponsible Development in Avila Beach" reads the petition making the rounds online.

Martin Suits is on the board for Concerned Citizens for Avila.

"We want to be able to slow things down," Suits said.

He's talking about slowing down plans for large developments in Avila Beach while an update to the Avila General Plan is underway.

"The worst of all possible worlds is that we have all this development without a thought, without a plan, and then the plan comes in afterwards," Suits continued.

Suits, who is also part of the General Plan Ad Hoc Committee, laid out some major concerns.

"We have one way in, one way out and it's essentially a dead-end street. For example, during the weekends when we have events, the traffic can be lined up all the way to the highway," he said.

Parking, water, and sewer would also all be strained, Martin says.

The petition is in response to an email made public by two local conservation groups in which developers discussed a possible 15,000-unit development in Wild Cherry Canyon, PG&E-owned land near Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

Home-Fed and PG&E deny they have a deal to build those homes at some point in the future.

Still, neighbors are worried something like that could happen.

"I used to teach at Cal Poly years ago and just watching the exponential growth since I left here in '91 and to come back and hear about that, it's really terrifying," said Deanne Vochatzer.

"Avila is perfect the way that it is," Jack Brock added. "I don't think there is any reason to add anything more."

Residents plan on collecting signatures at the Bob Jones Trail in the weeks to come.

The petition was created a few days ago and already has more than 400 signatures.

For a link to the petition, click here.

Monday, KSBY reached out to PG&E about the petition. Spokesperson Blair Jones sent this response:
"HomeFed is the lease holder of the Wild Cherry Canyon land. As such HomeFed, who has long term development rights well into the next century, is the entity that could contemplate development of the land, which would require government approval. PG&E inherited this lease arrangement when we purchased the land many years ago.
"For PG&E's part, we will not make any commitments on the disposition or post-retirement use of any of the lands that surround Diablo Canyon Power Plant, including as the fee title owner of the Wild Cherry Canyon parcels, until a public stakeholder process makes recommendations to PG&E, which will help inform our filings with regulators on future land use. 
"We recently announced a major component of the public stakeholder process in announcing that we are seeking applications for the newly formed Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel. We encourage members of the community to apply for the panel by visiting https://www.pge.com/engagementpanel."

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