Preserve the Reserve
SAVE THE OAK WOODLANDS, MARITIME CHAPARRAL, RARE PLANTS AND ANIMALS OF THE NIPOMO MESA
Proposed Dana Reserve Project Should be Substantially Reduced in Size or Rejected
What is the project?
According to the recently released Draft EIR, The Dana Reserve Specific Plan (DRSP) project proposes development of 1,289 residential units and 110,000-203,000 sq. ft. of commercial development on a 288-acres located southeast of Willow Road and Hetrick Avenue on the Nipomo Mesa. The project is situated at the very eastern edge of the Callender coastal sand dune complex, an area that contains unique resources, some of which are found nowhere else in the County. As presently conceived, the project threatens thousands of mature coast live oak trees with destruction. Five of the proposed neighborhoods, including 637 residential units, are located within existing oak woodland or chaparral habitats.
What about the mature Coast Live Oak Trees?
The project is seeking a Conditional Use Permit to authorize the removal of over 3,400 coast live oak trees under the County’s Oak Woodland Ordinance. The project proposes to impact 21.7 acres of coast live oak forest and 75.3 acres of coast live oak woodland (97 acres total). The Draft EIR identifies these impacts to oak woodlands, oak forest and individual oak trees as significant and unavoidable, Class I.
In addition to this loss of oak woodlands, the proposed project would significantly impact Burton Mesa Chaparral, including several rare and/or CNPS special status plants. This is a recognized natural community in the Manual of California Vegetation and is one of the rarest in San Luis Obispo County. The habitat is rapidly decreasing on the Nipomo Mesa. CNPS was successful in having this community recognized as occurring onsite. These impacts are identified in the DEIR as significant and unavoidable, Class I.
What about those 388 acres of “Mitigation?”
Initially, the applicant was proposing the permanent conservation of 388 acres of oak woodlands “or similar habitat” located offsite, in an area identified as Dana Ridge as “mitigation” for the loss of the habitats on the project site. Most of this proposed area is not even visible from Nipomo. Because the CNPS NOP letter was successful in arguing that the on-site habitat was in fact Burton Mesa chaparral, the proposed mitigation site no longer is recognized as “like-for-like” mitigation for chaparral habitats. However, 187 acres of oak woodland and 67.5 acres of oak forest on this site is still being proposed as a mitigation for loss of oak trees, oak forest and oak woodlands. We still believe this to be a vastly inappropriate mitigation for the loss of more than 3,000 oak trees and 97 acres of oak woodlands. The offsite location is in an entirely different watershed and is not threatened with development.
Are there other issues?
YES. Additional serious issues include water availability and exacerbation of existing traffic effects. Some of these can be mitigated. However, the DEIR indicates that, in addition to the biological impacts discussed above, there would also be Class I impacts in the following Issue Areas: Air Quality, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Land Use, Population and Housing, Transportation, and Growth-Inducement. The proposal contrasts significantly with surrounding residential development, and is inconsistent with several County policies, including the South County Area Plan and the County Land Use Ordinance.
CNPS SLO response to the NOP
You can read the CNPS SLO response to the Notice of Preparation here. Our conservation team is currently reviewing the Draft EIR in detail, including the Alternatives section, which identifies the Environmentally Superior Alternative as Alternative 3, the Residential Rural Cluster Subdivision alternative. This alternative, although not defined in detail, nor shown graphically in the DEIR, would remove the commercial development portion of the project and substantially reduce the number of residential units. Under this alternative, impacts related to biological resources, GHG emissions, land use and planning, population and housing, and public services would be reduced.
What can you do?
We urge you to talk about this project with your friends and neighbors. Contact your Supervisorial representatives. Please join us in opposing this vastly oversized project and arguing for a much-reduced alternative that avoids the significant impact to oaks, maritime chaparral, and rare plant species.
We will update this page as our analysis proceeds. You can get more information at the County’s website: https://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Planning-Building/Grid-Items/Community-Engagement/Active-Planning-Projects/Dana-Reserve-Specific-Plan.aspx.