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Sunny Acres owner not interested in selling property

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Posted at 4:36 AM, Sep 12, 2021

Prospective buyers reached out to local recovery community Sunny Acres offering to purchase the San Luis Obispo property, bring it up to code and help it carry out its mission, but the owner says he isn't interested.

Owner and founder of Sunny Acres Dan DeVaul says the property off Foothill Boulevard is a clean and sober community where men can go to address housing needs while agreeing to give up drugs and alcohol.

Recently, the county conducted a code enforcement inspection on the ranch after neighbors complained about conditions there.

It’s been an ongoing battle between DeVaul and county administrators, who say the buildings and conditions are not safe or up to code.

"I'm just scared, and there's a lot of people who are scared that the county is going to take the ranch and do away with Sunny Acres," DeVaul told KSBY News, adding that he is afraid the next step will be the county taking over the property.

"I'm fighting with everything that I've got to keep that from happening," DeVaul said.

San Luis Obispo County 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg says the county has no intention of taking over, they just want to fix the issues with the property so that it's safe for the residents.

"Everyone else has to follow the code. That's just what this is about," Ortiz-Legg said.

The County supports DeVaul's mission, but Ortiz-Legg says it needs to be done in a safe manner with clean drinking water, a sewage system in place and acceptable housing conditions, just like any other facility in the county.

"We just need to fix these items so residents can be safe," she said.

On Tuesday, the county held a meeting with Sunny Acres representatives during which they mandated the actions that need to be taken to address the code violations.

During that meeting, potential buyers Cheryl and Mike Cole of Santa Margarita said they were interested in buying the property and fixing the violations so that Sunny Acres could continue to carry out its mission. According to attorney Jeff Stein, a proposal was tentatively reached for the Cole's to purchase the ranch, but DeVaul ultimately refused to sell.

Devaul said it was never a question because he is not interested.

"It wasn't a question of deciding not to sell to them. We talked about many things. We never even really discussed a price," DeVaul said.

Ortiz-Legg says Tuesday's meeting had been planned weeks in advance with no mention of a prospective buyer — the county didn’t learn of it until the morning of the meeting. The meeting's purpose was always about bringing the ranch and the buildings current on safety code violations, she said.

"I want to take people off the street, get them off of drugs and alcohol," DeVaul said, something both parties agree on.

"So you know that's the next step, so that he understands that and perhaps he will be willing to come back to the table and try and work with everybody," Ortiz-Legg added.

The county did not give Sunny Acres a set date by which the items need to be completed -- but they have asked for continual communication from Sunny Acres representatives throughout the duration of this project.