A San Luis Obispo superior court judge ruled against the validity of the Measure J initiative Thursday night, saying in a written court document that the issue was “purely a question of law.”
According to Judge Roger Picquet’s ruling, the initiative conflicts with county land use and state law, mainly the State Aeronautics Act, since the land is close to the San Luis Obispo County Airport. The law requires local airport land-use commissions to establish plans for safety around airfields.
The measure passed in the Nov. 7, 2006 countywide ballot with 65 percent of voters in favor.
Cal Poly business graduate student Billy Jencks voted to pass Measure J in 1006 but now feels indifferent.
“It’s hard because I don’t see a huge problem with development . it would definitely have an effect on downtown businesses but would also bring a lot of jobs into the area,” Jencks said.
Measure J dealt with the proposed shopping property at the south end of Madonna Road and west of U.S. Highway 101. It was going to be used for a shopping center complex possibly consisting of stores such as Target and Lowe’s Home Improvement and would be built on the 131 acres of land owned by rancher-developer Ernie Dalidio.
Jencks feels that a Target store coming to San Luis Obispo is somewhat inevitable with or without the land use of Dalidio’s property.
Dalidio Ranch’s plan consisted of 530,000 square feet for retail, a business park, a hotel, 60 units of housing and other developments that will no longer be built.
Citizens for Planning Responsibly and the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County were the plaintiffs against Measure J, claiming that it exceeds the limits of what citizens can do through an initiative.
“We are very excited to win but we never know what is next,” said Morgan Rafferty, executive director of the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County.
“We joined the case because the inititive was written in such a way without going through environmental review.”
Dalidio’s attorney Michael Morris could not be reached for comment.
But Rafferty could not be happier about the judge’s ruling, saying that it “stands as a great precedent.”
This decision also creates barriers to other plans such as building and financing an overpass from Prado Road over U.S. Highway 101 to Dalidio Drive. Dalidio agreed to pay $4 million and donate land worth $4 million under Measure J, but this is a small amount compared to the total estimates that run as high as $60 million.