UPDATE (Aug. 11, 2021) - A representative of the Costa Pacifica Estates Homeowners Association issued the following statement on Wednesday in regards to the announcement by the Santa Maria Raceway that it is ceasing operations:
The County of San Luis Obispo also responded Wednesday with the following statement:
The County of San Luis Obispo has received questions and comments regarding the recent Facebook post from Stadium 805 (Santa Maria Speedway) announcing its closure.
The County is not shutting down racing events at Stadium 805. Code enforcement actions have been exclusively focused on un-permitted music concerts and rodeo activities. The County recognizes racing is allowed based on the speedway's original permit. Some music can be played during races but it must be scaled back and ancillary to the main event of racing.
The County has worked closely with the speedway's owner and his team to identify potential paths for these activities. After meeting with the County, the owner applied for and received a Temporary Commercial Outdoor Entertainment License (aka 6.56 license) in November of 2020. This license allowed special events such as concerts. Litigation from a separate party was filed against the owner challenging this license.
A few months later, the County received a letter from the Speedway’s planning consultant asking the Board to rescind this license https://agenda.slocounty.ca.gov/iip/sanluisobispo/file/getfile/129602 . At a Board of Supervisors meeting on January 26, 2021, the license was rescinded.
When the Speedway went ahead with music concerts and rodeo activities anyway, the county received numerous complaints from neighbors. Code Enforcement communicated with the owner that he no longer had permits for such events, and fined him for having un-permitted concerts and activities. No fines have been issued related to any permitted racing.
(Aug. 10, 2021) - The Santa Maria Raceway announced it is ceasing operations indefinitely.
Nicholas Duggan, owner of the Santa Maria Raceway, says the move was a financial decision in response to mounting fees and legal issues regarding plans to hold more non-racing events, like concerts.
“From before I bought this property, we worked with the county to see what we could do there, improve it, and make it a really good facility for people to use,” Duggan said.
“This track has been here since 1964 and it has got a lot of history, but we just couldn’t overcome these constant legal battles to exist the way we’ve existed for decades,” said David Castaneda, Santa Maria Raceway General Manager.
Duggan attributes the decision to shut down to legal action taken by the Costa Pacifica Estates Homeowners Association and the process of permitting through the County of San Luis Obispo.
Costa Pacifica Homeowners Association resident Bill Doerr says he and his neighbors are unhappy with the noise level created by concerts put on by Duggan at the racetrack.
“He plays music so loud that the sliders actually vibrate on the base. He’s been asked many times not to do that. Some people have said that they’ve talked to him and I know a lot of people have and asked him to quiet down the decibels,” Doerr said.
Neighbors say they've never had an issue with the racing at the track, but rather it's the concerts and whether the raceway was properly permitted to hold those events.
“I don’t totally blame the neighbors and I think people need to understand that. I think 95 percent of the people up there have been prepared to work with us and us with them. The unfortunate part is there is a handful we cannot please,” Duggan said.
KSBY reached out to the Board of the Costa Pacifica Estates Homeowners Association and was told no comment would be made at this time in response to the legal battle with the Santa Maria Raceway.
While the raceway is planning to cease operations, they will finish out the last events they are contractually obligated to put on, including go-kart racing, in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, officials with the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series, and USAC Western States Midget Series say they are looking into other options to continue holding races.