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SLO County files lawsuit against Sunny Acres alleging ongoing violations

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Apr 06, 2022

The County of San Luis Obispo has filed a public nuisance lawsuit against Sunny Acres and its owner, Dan DeVaul.

DeVaul operates the 72-acre property at 10660 Los Osos Valley Road just outside San Luis Obispo city limits as a sober living facility. A few dozen people live and work there, many of them registered sex offenders and/or recovering from addiction.

The lawsuit claims DeVaul has violated a permanent injunction against the property by allowing people to live in unpermitted structures including sheds and RVs that are hooked up to unpermitted plumbing, gas, electricity, and sewer. In addition, it alleges DeVaul has increased the amount of outdoor storage at the site, added unpermitted improvements to the electricity, plumbing and sewer systems, and moved approximately 150,000 cubic yards of dirt within a Special Flood Hazard Area without a permit.

According to the lawsuit, the Sunny Acres property has a history of code enforcement violations dating back to 2001.

In 2010, the county filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against DeVaul and Sunny Acres which resulted in the appointment of a court-appointed receiver and a permanent injunction.

Later, Sunny Acres got a building permit for a 14-bed residence and detached bathroom but never received a Certificate of Occupancy from the county allowing people to move in because the water source on the property does not meet safety standards for nitrates and E. coli.

On June 23, 2021, the county inspected the property and found that, among other violations, people were living in the 14-bed residence and other unpermitted structures.

The county issued a Notice of Violation on July 22, 2021. According to the lawsuit, some progress has been made since then, but DeVaul has not fully complied. The suit claims people are still living in unpermitted structures, water does not meet safe drinking water standards, unpermitted utilities remain in use, there is a substantial amount of accumulated "junk," and there is no permanent solution to address the grading of the floodplain.

"Given the history of the Property and Defendants' track record and obstinance," the lawsuit reads, "Plaintiffs have zero faith that Defendants will actually remedy the violations on the Property let alone remedy them within a reasonably timely fashion."

DeVaul told KSBY News on Wednesday that he has worked to clean up the property, including removing more than three dozen vehicles and 200 tons of scrap metal. He says he also tried to evict many of the residents but they refuse to leave.

The lawsuit seeks an order appointing a receiver to take full control of the property and make necessary repairs and asks a judge to find DeVaul and Sunny Acres in contempt of court for violating the permanent injunction.